Teen girl beats boys to make history


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Heaven Fitch

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Heaven hugging her coach Chris Waddell immediately following her win

Girls-only wrestling is not recognised in North Carolina.

As is the case in many states across the US, there are not enough girls wrestling in secondary schools for a division to be formed.

So when Heaven Fitch set her sights on becoming a wrestling champion, it was always going to mean facing a field made up of mostly boys.

On 22 February, she became the first girl to win a North Carolina High School Wrestling State Championship.

Heaven follows in the footsteps of Michaela Hutchison, who became the first girl to ever win a state-wide secondary school title in 2006.

In an Instagram post about the victory, Heaven proudly said: “I did it again, I made history.”

But when she spoke to the BBC, the 16-year-old struggled to show anything other than modesty when discussing her success.

“I’m just like any other person,” she said, before clarifying, “outside of wrestling”.

“Last year I was the first girl to reach second place in North Carolina, but I never expected to win it. Just to place last year was crazy in itself – all I wanted was to place higher.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”

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Chris Waddell

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Heaven with coach Chris after her win

If her words leave you in any doubt of her talents, you need only speak to Chris Waddell, who has been her coach for the past two years.

“There hasn’t been anyone like her in North Carolina,” he told the BBC. “I’ve never coached anyone like her.

“Heaven’s an exceptional wrestler and she’s making history. It’s an outstanding achievement – she’s just that good.”

“All around,” he explained, “she’s probably the most talented kid I’ve ever coached.

“I always tell her she’s a unicorn – because she’s so special.”

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Heaven Fitch

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Heaven with her hand held high after the win – and coach Chris looking on

In the days since her victory, a video of Heaven’s win has been viewed more than 250,000 times on social media, and she has made headlines across the country for “making history”.

It will perhaps not surprise you to learn that the teenager was down-to-earth when reflecting on the amount of press coverage her success has received.

“It’s been really surreal,” she said. “I didn’t expect it to go this far, it’s become this big thing.”

And although it took some convincing, when pressed on what she thinks about the “making history” tag she’s been given by the press, Heaven finally allowed a bit of swagger to seep through.

“I do see it like that,” she said with a laugh. “I am the first female to place, so it is history for North Carolina.

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Heaven Fitch

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Heaven competing in an invitational tournament in 2019

And coach Chris hopes her win may lead to the creation of a girls-only division in North Carolina in the next few years.

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