U.S. wrestler Helen Maroulis was named USA Wrestling’s Women’s Wrestler of the Year, while her coach, Valentin Kalika, has been named the 2016 Women’s Coach of the Year.
It is the first time either one of them have won their respective awards.
Maroulis was the first American woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal in wrestling by capturing the 53 kg gold-medal at the Rio Olympic Games.In the gold medal match at the Rio Games, Maroulis defeated three-time Olympic champion and 13-time World champion Saori Yoshida of Japan, 4-1.
Kalika was the personal coach of Maroulis at last summer’s Rio Olympics and also coached two-time Olympian Elena Pirozhkova, who placed fifth at 63 kg in Rio. He has been a coach for over 35 years in Ukraine, Israel and now the U.S. In addition to coaching Maroulis and Pirozhkova, he became a coach for Columbia University’s New York City Regional Training Center earlier this year.
[More from Excelle Sports: Helen Maroulis is relishing America’s first-ever women’s wrestling Olympic gold]
As a wrestler, Kalika excelled in Greco-Roman wrestling, where he was a Ukrainian national champion and was also a Soviet Union U.S.S.R. University champion. He left Ukraine in 1991, and spent three years in Israel, where he was a National Team coach and club coach there. He was able to emigrate to the United States in 1994, and lived in Orange County, Calif. for more than 20 years.