TAMPERE, Finland – Maya Nelson became the first Junior women’s World championship for the United States since 2010, defeating Yuliana Yaneva for gold on Friday night at the Junior World Championships in Tampere, Finland.
“I am elated,” the newly crowned World champ Nelson said. “I am so happy right now. First and foremost, all the glory goes to God. Without Him and without my faith, I would not be here.”
Nelson (Denver, Colo./Sunkist Kids WC) took on Bulgaria’s Yaneva in the 63 kg/139 lbs. finals, a match the American controlled from start to finish.
Early in the match, Nelson scored on a leg attack takedown and carried a 2-0 lead into the break.
With her constant pressure on the Bulgarian, Nelson was able to score on a reshot near the edge of the mat, executing a double to put Yaneva to her back for four points.
The American stayed solid in the final minute of the match to win her first World title with a decisive 6-0 win.
“Once I got my hands on her and I snapped her down the first time, I was like, ‘I got this,’” Nelson said. “I moved her around and I got my offense off so that was exciting for me. Erin (Vandiver) was just yelling, ‘Take your shot. Take your double. Blast through her.’ I just went for that double and she was right.”
The last woman to win World gold for the Red, White and Blue was Victoria Anthony at 48 kg/106 lbs. in the 2010 Junior Worlds in Budapest, Hungary. The last time the U.S. had a finalist was Erin Golston at 44 kg/96 lbs. at the 2013 Junior Worlds in Sophia, Bulgaria.
Nelson’s road to the finals was dominant as she teched 2017 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist Ying Zhang of China, before taking out 2017 Pan American Champion Nicole Depa of Canada with a second-period pin.
In the semis, she controlled Maria Kuznetsova of Russia in a 4-0 win. It was the second time the two have met up at the Junior World Championships with Nelson taking a 9-4 win in the 2016 bronze-medal match.
McKayla Campbell, Ronna Heaton and Rachel Watters also represented the USA on Friday but were unable to qualify for the medal rounds.