VINDICATED U.S. wrestler Patricia Miranda, who won a silver medal
in the 105.5-pound class at the World Championships of Freestyle
Wrestling in New York City on Sunday. Miranda, 24, a Phi Beta
Kappa graduate of Stanford, deferred enrollment at Yale Law
School in order to train for the championships and the 2004
Athens Games, where women's wrestling will make its Olympic
debut. She did so against the wishes of her father, Jose, a
physician, who used to sneak into Patricia's matches against boys
at Saratoga (Calif.) High to scratch her name off the entry
lists. "It wasn't a gender thing with him," Patricia says. "He
just thought it wasn't the place for his daughter to spend her
time when she could be getting an education."
Patricia agreed to drop wrestling if her GPA ever fell below 4.0,
but it never did. Like most of the girls wrestling in high school
(there are 3,000 today), she competed on the boys' team and was
twice named captain. At Stanford, where there was no women's
program--only six colleges now have one--Miranda, an economics
major, wrestled for four years but rarely cracked the lineup. In
her senior season she won her first match against a male foe
after 20 tries, despite weighing 110 pounds, 15 below the
lightest men's weight. That was the year the IOC announced it was
adding women's wrestling to the Olympics.
In New York, Miranda led her final match 3-1 but dropped a 5-4
decision to Ukraine's Irini Merleni, a two-time world champion.
U.S. women won medals in all seven weight classes, with two
bronzes, four silvers and 147.5-pound Kristie Marano's gold. "Now
we have this amazing opportunity to prove all the naysayers
wrong," says Miranda. Even those who are close to home.