LONDON (AFP) –
Uzbekistan’s Artur Taymazov completed a hat-trick of Olympic heavyweight freestyle wrestling titles after defeating Georgia’s Davit Modzmanashvili in the 120 kg final.
But Saturday’s penultimate day of freestyle wrestling action was also notable for an Azerbaijan double with Sharif Sharifov (84kg) and Toghrul Asgarov (60kg) taking the other two gold medals on offer.
The 33-year-old Taymazov, also the silver medallist in Sydney, had too much guile for Modzmanashvili, eight years his junior, and won 3-0.
Bronze medals went to Iran’s Komeil Ghasemi and Russia’s Bilyal Makhov, a three-time world champion.
Taymazov began his campaign with convincing 3-0 wins over Germany’s Nick Matuhin and Iran’s Komeil Ghasemi.
And in the semi-final Taymazov was too strong for the USA’s Tervel Dlagnev, producing a superb pinning move and hold down after the Bulgarian-born American beat world champion Aleksei Shemarov of Belarus in the quarter-finals.
Earlier, Sharifov added Olympic gold to the world title he won last year with a convincing win over Jaime Espinal, the first Puerto Rican to reach a Games wrestling final.
An elated Sharifov paid tribute to Espinal by saying: “I was surprised by him. This is the Olympic Games. The opponents here are all serious.
Espinal added the “surprise factor” had been a key part of his success.
“I came to give all I have inside my heart and I’ve done that. That’s why I’m celebrating my silver medal.”
“I have the surprise factor. Nobody hoped we’d have a medal in wrestling.”
In the 60kg final, Asgarov upset the formbook as this year’s European champion and last year’s world junior title winner defeated the reigning world champion, Besik Kudukhov of Russia.
“I’m so glad,” said Asgarov. “I put everything into being Olympic champion.”
Meanwhile there was no silver lining for Beijing bronze medallist Kudukhov who first up beat Puerto Rico’s Franklin Gomez in a repeat of last year’s world championship final as there is no seeding in Olympic wrestling.
“No, that was no step forward,” Kudukhov said. “The gold medal would have been a step forward.”
Bronze medals went to Coleman Scott of the United States and India’s Yogeshwar Dutt, the Asian champion, who came through the repechage after an early loss to Kudukhov.
“My group was very tough and I had to fight with the world champion,” said Dutt. “I wanted to win and I had practised a lot for it.”
“I was very down after I lost in the morning, but when I got the chance to compete in the repechage the whole country wanted a medal from me.
“I didn’t want to lose this occasion.”