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Disappointing finish for U.S. women's freestyle team

Andrew Hipps

8/9/2012
Andrew Hipps, InterMat Senior Editor
andrew@intermatwrestle.com, Twitter: @InterMat

Related Content: 2012 Olympic Games Coverage Section

Kelsey Cambell went 0-2, getting knocke out in the repechage (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)


LONDON -- A day after Clarissa Chun won the first medal for the U.S at the 2012 Olympic Games, Kelsey Campbell (55 kilos) and Ali Bernard (72 kilos) bowed out prior to the medal rounds on the final day of Olympic women's freestyle competition Thursday at the ExCel Center in London.

Aside from Chun's bronze medal performance, the other three U.S. women's freestyle wrestlers went a combined 0-4 at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Terry Steiner (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
"We have a great group of athletes, but we definitely never got the best of them here," said U.S. women's freestyle coach Terry Steiner. "Clarissa performed very well. Other than that I think that we didn't perform well at all."

Steiner talked about the U.S. women's freestyle program needing to make changes to move forward.

"We've got to go back and look at everything and what we need to make changes on within the senior level program. We also need to start focusing on the development. The countries that are doing well here have been focusing on their Cadets and Juniors extensively for years."

Campbell drew the short straw when the brackets were released on Wednesday and she was paired with Saori Yoshida of Japan, now a three-time Olympic champion and nine-time World champion. The Japanese wrestling legend defeated Campbell in two periods, 1-0, 1-0. Yoshida scored in the first period by countering a Campbell leg attack, and then scored off a leg attack of her own in the second period.

"The Yoshida match had to be a tactical match," said Steiner. "She's got too much speed to deal with. We had to be tactical. Once she got ahead in those periods, then we had to throw tactics out of the window, wrestle, and get our point back."

Saori Yoshida defeated Kelsey Campbell in two periods (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
Campbell said she felt prepared for Yoshida, but a few costly mistakes proved to be the difference in the match.

"There was about three to four seconds of each period that I just made some mistakes and it cost me that one point," said Campbell. "With some opponents you can get away with that, but not with an opponent like Yoshida. You can't get it back. There's nothing I could have done differently in preparation. It just didn't come together the way I wanted it to."

Campbell was pulled through to Thursday night's repechage after Yoshida reached the gold-medal match. In the repechage Campbell faced 2009 World champion Yulia Ratkevich of Azerbaijan, and lost in two periods, 4-0, 1-0.

Ratkevich scored her first point off a pushout and held a 1-0 lead late into the first period before Campbell attacked and was close to scoring a pushout, which would have given her the period victory, but Ratkevich countered and scored a two-point exposure. The U.S. challenged the call, but it held up and Ratkevich was given an additional point for the unsuccessful challenge. Ratkevich needed just a one-point takedown to win the second period 1-0 and close out the victory over Campbell.

Kelsey Campbell get in on the leg of Yulia Ratkevich (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
Campbell didn't want to make excuses about the controversial call at the end of the first period that did not go her way.

"I can be upset about that or I can just recognize the fact that I gave up a point and I kind of allowed myself to be in that situation," said Campbell. "You can't make excuses. When you're down a point, there's a reason that you're down. It shouldn't have come to that. It should never come to that where it's an official making a decision."

Bernard, who was competing in her second Olympic Games after finishing fifth in 2008, fell in her first match to Sweden's Jenny Fransson, a wrestler she owned several wins over throughout her career.

Fransson won the first period 3-0, scoring with a headlock in the closing seconds of the period. Fransson struck first in the second period, scoring with a throw-by to take a 1-0 lead. Bernard responded with a takedown of her own to make the score 1-1, giving her the lead by scoring last. But just as the second period was coming to close, Fransson got in on Bernard's legs and scored a takedown to steal the period and win the match.

Ali Bernard dropped her opening match to Jenny Fransson (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
"I'm pretty upset," said Bernard. "It sucks. I came all this way. I've been training all this time. I got a second chance and I messed it up in good terms, I guess. It is what it is. I came out, wrestled four minutes, and didn't do the job. I can either sit and ponder about it or move on."

Bernard was placed on the U.S. Olympic Team after the wrestler who defeated her at the Olympic Team Trials, Stephany Lee, failed a drug test and accepted a one-year suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

"It was an emotional roller coaster with a terrible ending," said Bernard. "It's over. The ride is over. But it was worth it."

The three-day men's freestyle competition begins on Friday in London. Sam Hazewinkel (55 kilos) and Jordan Burroughs (74 kilos) will take to the mats for the U.S.

Hazewinkel opens with returning World bronze medalist Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan. If he gets past Niyazbekov, Hazewinkel will face the winner of Ahmet Peker of Turkey and David Tremblay of Canada.

Burroughs, a 2011 World champion, faces Francisco Soler of Puerto Rico. A win would put him against either Matt Gentry of Canada or Narsingh Yadav of India. Two-time World champion Denis Tsargush is also on Burroughs' side of the bracket.

Yoshida wins third gold, Vorobieva pins Zlateva

Saori Yoshida of Japan won her third gold medal, defeating Canada's Tonya Verbeek 3-0, 2-0 in the gold-medal match at 55 kilos. The other Olympic gold medalist crowned on Thursday night was Russia's Natalia Vorobieva at 72 kilos. Vorobieva pinned Bulgaria's Stanka Zlateva after losing the first period.

Day 5 Olympic Wrestling Placewinners (Women's Freestyle)

55 kilos:
Gold: Saori Yoshida (Japan)
Silver: Tonya Verbeek (Canada)
Bronze: Jackeline Renteria (Colombia)
Bronze: Yulia Ratkevich (Azerbaijan)
5th: Tetyana Lazareva (Ukraine)
5th: Valeria Zholobova (Russia)
7th: Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)
8th: Marwa Amri (Tunisia)
9th: Lissette Antes Castillo (Ecuador)
10th: Kum Ok Han (North Korea)

72 kilos:
Gold: Natalia Vorobieva (Russia)
Silver: Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria)
Bronze: Gouzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan)
Bronze: Madier Unda Gonzales (Spain)
5th: Jiao Wang (China)
5th: Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus)
7th: Laure Ali Annabel (Cameroon)
8th: Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia)
9th: Jenny Fransson (Sweden)
10th: Svetlana Saenco (Moldova)

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