While Gabby Douglas has become an American darling with her two Olympic gold medals in gymnastics, another teenager has returned home with the prize, also breaking ground not only for blacks but also for all Americans.
Hundreds of fans turned out Tuesday to welcome home Claressa Shields, who became the first U.S. woman ever to win a gold medal in boxing.
Claressa, 17, defeated Nadezda Torlopova of Russia 19-12 in the women’s boxing Middleweight final of the 2012 London Olympic Games at the ExCel Arena Aug. 9, in London, the Associated Press reported.
National Public Radio reported Tuesday that a crowd gathered in her hometown Flint, Mich., to welcome back the Northwestern High School student, complete with a marching band from her school and a motorcycle escort.
From the airport, she got a limousine ride and a police escort to take her to Berston Field House, where she trained as a boxer.
According to the AP, Clarissa shuffled, danced and slugged her way past Torlopova, who, at 33, is almost twice her age. She even stuck her tongue out at her opponent after ducking a few punches in the final round, the AP reported.
She has been on the international boxing scene for less than two years but is among the sport’s fastest-rising stars, the AP said. She lost early in the world championships, yet still qualified for the Olympics.
Back in Flint, she told reporters her victory meant a lot not only to her but also to Flint, an economically devastated and violence ravaged city.
“I won Flint’s hope,” NPR quoted her as saying. “I kind of brung them together, you know? And I just made myself happy. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I hadn’t gotten the gold medal. Because I worked so hard, so I wanted nothing but gold.”
“People look at Flint as a bad place. But, you know, whenever Flint decides to come together, we make a huge impact. So I feel that we should stay together. And then some of the violence would stop, and just drop all the stuff that’s been going on,” she said.
She said she was already feeling the pressure of being an Olympic gold medalist.
“I know that everybody wants just a little piece of me,” she said. “I’m just going to pray about it. I like for, when people see me, that they’re happy to see me. But I don’t want them all over me, like I’m Beyonce or something.”
Photo: Clareesa Shields