U.S. middleweight Claressa Shields won the Olympic gold medal Thursday, capping her swift rise to the top of women's boxing with a 19-12 victory over Russia's Nadezda Torlopova.
The 17-year-old Shields shuffled, danced and slugged her way past her 33-year-old opponent, showing off the free-spirited style and brute strength that made her unbeatable at the London Games.
Shields even stuck her tongue out at Torlopova after ducking a few punches in the final round.
The teenager won the 12-member American team's only gold medal in London. The winningest nation in Olympic boxing history got no medals from its men's team for the first time, and flyweight Marlen Esparza won a bronze.
Shields has been on the international boxing scene for less than two years, but the Flint, Mich., native is among its fastest-rising stars. She lost early in the world championships, yet still qualified for the Olympics.
Meanwhile, Flint officials helped hometown fans share the love as their teen boxing sensation Claressa Shields punched her way to an Olympic gold medal.
Flint's mayor Dayne Walling invited the public to come together Thursday to watch the 17-year-old's gold medal match. Walling and City Councilman Bryant Nolden backed the free viewing event at Blackstone's in downtown Flint, urging fans to wear red white or blue.
Shields is now the second-youngest boxer to ever win gold.
Following the gold medal performance, Flint schools superintendent Linda Thompson and Northwestern High School principal Cheryl Adkins released these two statements:
"We are extremely proud of Claressa's accomplishments at the London 2012 Summer Games. Not only did she display magnificent boxing skills, but she's also an outstanding ambassador of goodwill and sportsmanship for our country, our city and our school district.
"Here at Flint Community Schools, we are full of pride to see one of our bright students perform so well on the international stage. She exemplifies the characteristics we strive to cultivate in all of our students – high expectations, dedication and perseverance. We expect all of our students to be their very best.
"This young lady gave her very best and showed the world that even in a city like Flint, Michigan – despite its challenges – there are good, smart and decent young people that have dreams and ambitions. Given an opportunity and support, they can and will be positive influences and contributors to our world.
"Claressa is poised for a very bright future, as her gold-medal performance is certain to open many doors of opportunity. We are looking forward to Claressa completing her senior year at Northwestern High School and moving onto college as she continues to strive for new heights in her boxing career and life."
From Northwestern High School Principal Cheryl Adkins:
"For our students, Claressa has shown what's possible if you're prepared to work, endure and sacrifice. She envisioned a path for herself, which was to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and how she was going to accomplish it.
"For our young ladies, she has demonstrated that you can do what young men can do if you set your mind to it. Gender is no longer a barrier for whatever you want to accomplish.
"The Northwestern family and community are all very proud of her."
Copyright 2012 by WNEM (Meredith Corporation) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.