Olympic Wrestler Adeline Gray Hates To Be Called ‘Too Pretty To Wrestle’

August 4, 2016
Photo: Wrestler Adeline Maria Gray (AP Photo)AP
Adeline Maria Gray celebrates after defeating Zhou Qian, of China, during their 75 kilogram women’s freestyle gold-medal match at the wrestling world championships Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, in Las Vegas. 

In the world of female wrestling, Adeline Gray is a star. She's competed in every world championship since 2011 and she's taken home three gold medals and two bronze.

Gray will make her Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro this month and thinks she has a good shot at gold there, too.

As part of our coverage of Coloradans competing in Rio, CPR's Andrea Dukakis spoke with Gray a few weeks ago while she was training in Spain. Gray, who graduated from Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, now lives in Colorado Springs.     

On why she loves wrestling:

"It's a pretty amazing kind of combat sport that has taught me a lot about personal space and how to invade it.  

On people who say she doesn't look like a wrestler:

"I think it just kind of shocks them that I have long hair, I think it shocks them that I'm wearing make-up and a skirt and that I don't look like Helga who lifts too many weights." 

On competing in an aggressive sport as a woman:

"Wrestling does have some aggression in it that isn't kind of standard for females.  You know, females are taught we're not supposed to fight, we're not supposed to get angry and we're not supposed to be, you know, in a combat kind of situation and so many of our social norms kind of fit in with that."   

On being a confident woman: 

"You're supposed to be very confident and believe in yourself, but you're also supposed to be humble and never openly state anything ... and so [there] definitely is a fine line between that and I think I cross it from time to time but ... I truly believe that I'm the best girl that's going to step on that mat that day [and] I've proved it in the past."  

On the challenge of getting a major sponsor in a sport like wrestling:

"I would love to have some of those highlight sponsors like Visa and Wheaties and some of those Olympic sponsors step up and support me because I think that I'm doing something special out here on the wrestling mat for not just female wrestlers and for wrestling in general, but for women in sports.