BEIRUT

Olympics

U.S. beats Iran in men's 74kg freestyle wrestling for gold

  • Iran's Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi wrestles U.S.' Jordan Ernest Burroughs in their Men's 74kg Freestyle gold medal match on August 10, 2012 during the wrestling event of the London 2012 Olympic Games. (AFP PHOTO/YURI CORTEZ)

  • US' Jordan Ernest Burroughs celebrates after defeating Iran's Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi in their Men's 74kg Freestyle gold medal match on August 10, 2012 during the wrestling event of the London 2012 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO / YURI CORTEZ

LONDON: Jordan Burroughs, the poster boy of American wrestling, lived up to all the pre-London 2012 hype by adding Olympic gold to his world title in the men's 74kg freestyle category on Thursday.

The 24-year-old from New Jersey, whose Twitter handle is alliseeisgold, was too fast for Iran's Sadegh Gourdazi at the Excel Arena, saving his best for last as he won 3-0 in a repeat of last year's world championship final.

The bronze medals went to Russia's Denis Tsargush and Soslan Tigiev of Uzbekistan.

Burroughs, who only started competing at international level two years ago, had been promised a cheque for $250,000 by USA Wrestling if he won in London.

Sporting contests between the United States and Iran have often had an extra element of tension because of the fraught political relations between the two countries for the past 30 years.

But the agile Burroughs established an early lead and, with 10 seconds of the contest remaining, drove Sadegh to the mat to set the seal on his victory with the Iranian unable to take advantage of a cut above Burroughs's left eye which had worsened throughout the day.

After making light work of the early rounds, Burroughs overcame a tricky quarter-final opponent in Canada's Matthew Gentry 3-1.

In the semi-finals he faced Russia's two-time world champion Denis Tsargush.

The Russian took an early lead with a force-out but Burroughs, displaying his trademark speed and agility, hit back with a takedown and force out of his own to make sure of the second period.

The American then made sure of the third period and the 24-year-old closed out victory despite a last-gasp flurry by his familiar foe.

Gourdazi, also beaten by Tsargush in the 2010 world final, defeated Hungary's Gabor Hatos 3-0 in his semi-final.

Earlier, Dzhamal Otarsultanov rewarded the Russian selectors with Olympic gold when he took the 55kg freestyle title.

Otarsultanov, a three-time European champion, was picked ahead of Viktor Lebedev after defeating the two-time world champion and followed that up with victory in the Olympic final over Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia.

Khinchegashvili, runner-up to Otarsultanov at last year's European Championships in Dortmund and a double world junior champion, pushed the Russian hard with coaches of both wrestlers challenging the referee's award of points.

But the 25-year-old Otarsultanov ultimately won 3-1.

Khinchegashvili overcame a tough semi-final contest with Japan's Shinichi Yumoto, one of the bronze medallists along with North Korea's Yang Kyong-Il.

The Japanese rolled the Georgian several times in the first period and Khinchegashvili needed treatment for what appeared to be an ankle injury.

But he hit back with a third period takedown to book his place in the final.

Khinchegashvili's victory gave India's Amit Kumar, his beaten opponent in the last eight, a chance to fight for a bronze medal through the repechage.

But after both periods of his bout with Bulgaria's Radoslav Velikov -- runner-up at last year's world championships -- ended scoreless, Kumar lost on extra-time leg-grabs.

 

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