Karla Godinez Gonzalez claimed Canada's first medal at the 2022 World Wrestling Championships with bronze in the women's 55-kilogram weight division on Tuesday in Belgrade, Serbia.
The Coquitlam, B.C., native defeated Moldova's Mariana Dragutan 6-2 in the bronze-medal match. Gonzalez, from the Burnaby Mountain Wrestling Club, scored three two-point takedowns in the opening period and secured a 6-2 lead before the break.
In the second period, the 24-year-old appeared to suffer a knee injury but was able to hang on for her first World Championship medal.
"I think I was fighting with myself a bit," said Godinez Gonzalez. "I work really hard but when it comes to competitions — I think I fight with my own thoughts. I want to control every little thing, but I have to just let it go because doing that is how I lost [in the semifinal].
"I decided to just go for it, and the results happened."
This is the third international medal for Godinez Gonzalez this year after she won gold at the Pan-American Championships and silver at the Grand Prix of Spain.
"[This year] hasn't sunk in yet," she said. "When I think about this I am like 'wow' yes, I wanted the gold but winning the bronze just shows that I am growing and that is a huge deal. I have only been wrestling for six years, so I have to put triple the time in to catch up to these girls.
"I am constantly working."
Godinez Gonzalez opened the tournament with a 5-2 win over Shokhida Akhmedova of Uzbekistan in the round of 16 before a 2-1 victory against Romania's Andreea Ana in the quarter-finals.
In her semifinal match with Ukraine's Oleksandra Khomenets, Godinez Gonzalez led 1-0 at the break but fell behind in the second period following a four-point takedown by Khomenets.
Godinez Gonzalez was unable to reclaim the lead despite a second-period takedown. The 5-3 loss forced her to compete for bronze.
There are 20 athletes representing Canada at the world championships from Sept. 10-18., including all 12 of the 2022 Commonwealth Games team members who captured 12 out of a possible 12 medals in Birmingham, England, alongside eight wrestlers who earned their spot at the Non-Olympic Weight Class Trials on June 30 in Summerside, P.E.I.