Commonwealth champion Blessing Oborududu on Monday made history as the first Nigerian to reach the final of a wrestling event at the Olympics, after recording an impressive 7-2 victory against 2012 bronze medalist Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia in the last four clash. The 10-time African champion Oborududu will face top seed Tamyra Stock Mensah in Tuesday’s final, after the American World champion overpowered Ukraine’s Alla Cherkasova 10-4 in the first semi-final.
Following her passage to the final, the 32-year-old is guaranteed a silver, at least – the first wrestling medal in the country’s history at the Olympics. On her way to the final, Oborududu made light work of Elis Manolova in the round of 16, thrashing the Azerbaijani 13-2 via technical superiority, before securing a hard-fought 3-2 win against Meerim Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan in the quarter-finals.
After a cagey opening moment in her semi-final bout against the 2015 World champion Soronzonbold, the energetic Oborududu burst into action, taking down the 31-year-old Mongolian thrice to eventually win the first round 7-0. A late fight back saw Soronzonbold score two points, but Oborududu was never going to be denied a place in history as she ran out with a comfortable 7-2 win. The 2nd seed Oborududu will renew her rivalry with old foe Mensah, as they battle for the ultimate prize – gold medal, with the pair expected to get on the mat around 11.15am Nigerian time.
They last met at the 2019 World championships in Kazakhstan, with the American getting the better of Oborududu on her way to the title.