Coleman Scott with the other 60-kilo medalists (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
LONDON -- U.S. freestyle coach Zeke Jones called the latter part of Saturday's first session a "train wreck" for the U.S. men's freestyle team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
After winning its first five matches and pushing two wrestlers into the semifinals, the U.S. suffered three straight losses and all hope for a gold medal on Saturday was dashed in a span of 30 minutes.
Still, the U.S. entered Saturday night's session with a chance to earn three bronze medals, but went 1-2, with only Coleman Scott winning and claiming a bronze medal at 60 kilos.
Tervel Dlagnev lost in the bronze-medal match at 120 kilos, while Jake Herbert fell in the repechage at 84 kilos. The U.S. finished the day 6-5.
"We couldn't close today like we wanted to," said Jones. "I think we were close, but close doesn't count. I think we just need to close a little bit more."
Coleman Scott moments after winning the Olympic bronze medal (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Scott, who was wrestling in his first world-level event, dug deep in the bronze-medal match, scoring with a low double leg in the final 15 seconds to defeat Japan's Kenichi Yumoto 0-1, 3-0, 3-1.
"It wasn't what I came here for, but it's better than nothing, I guess," said Scott. "That's what was going through my head at the end there. I'm not walking away with nothing to show for it. It was good to end on a win."
The victory came three hours after Scott suffered a heartbreaking semifinal loss to Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan. Asgarov took the first period 1-0. Scott was on the verge of winning the second period, getting in deep on a shot before the Azerbaijan wrestler countered and scored exposure points. The U.S. challenged the call, but it stood and Scott lost 4-0.
The 19-year-old Asgarov went on to earn the Olympic gold medal, defeating four-time World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia in the finals.
"I feel like I left something on the mat," said Scott of his semifinal loss. "The kid is a great kid from Azerbaijan, but I don't think he's better than I really am. I left it out there. I waited too long. It is what it is. I had to come back and get bronze. I'm glad I can wear that podium uniform now."
Coleman Scott gets in on a shot against Seung-Chul Lee of Korea (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Scott, a native of Waynesburg, Pa., had close to 100 supporters in London cheering him on, including several of his former coaches. He said the bronze medal was for them.
"They put so much time and so many hours and followed me around and have taken me here," said Scott. "I think this is a little bit that I can give back to them. That's the way I was looking at it. They've earned the right to it."
Scott becomes the 30th Olympic medalist for Oklahoma State and 16th for the Cowboy wrestling program. Two former Cowboys great, John Smith and Kenny Monday, serve as Scott's coaches and mentors.
"I couldn't ask for better people to be around day in and day out," said Scott of Smith and Monday. "Arguably two of the best Americans to ever to come through. I'm with them every day. I'm picking their brains every day. I'm hanging out with them every day, every night. I think that was a lot of it. I just aspired to be like them, and to do what they have done. I haven't achieved it yet. They're Olympic champs. I've got to wait another four years, I guess."
Scott was the final wrestler to make the U.S. Olympic Team when he defeated past U.S. World Team members Reece Humphrey and Shawn Bunch in a special wrestle-off held in Times Square on June 7. The other six members of the U.S. men's freestyle team earned their spots 45 days earlier at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City.
"It's an uphill battle just to make the team," said John Smith. "Through that process it made him stronger, tougher ... It gave him an opportunity to win a gold medal. He just happened to settle for a bronze, but a bronze that was earned. I'm excited for him."
Tervel Dlagnev defeated Egypt's Eldesoky Shaban 6-2, 1-0 in his first match (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Dlagnev, like Scott, reached the semifinals after two victories on Saturday afternoon. His second victory came over 2011 World champion Alexei Shemarov of Belarus 2-0, 3-1, avenging a loss from last year's World Championships.
In the semifinals Dlagnev battled Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan, now a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and was pinned in a cradle late in the first period. Dlagnev then lost in the bronze-medal match to Iran's Komeil Ghasemi, 0-4, 1-0, 0-1.
"I didn't perform," said Dlagnev, a 2009 bronze medalist. "That's it."
Herbert, a 2009 World silver medalist, reached the quarterfinals by defeating Cuba's Humberto Arencibia before falling to eventual gold medalist Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan 1-4, 0-6, in a match in which Herbert came out on the wrong end of questionable call in the second period on a scramble situation. The U.S. coaches felt that Herbert should have been up 3-2 after the scramble, but instead Sharifov was given a 5-0 lead, and then an additional point for the unsuccessful challenge, which made it 6-0 and ended the match.
Jake Herbert with U.S. coaches Zeke Jones and Sean Bormet (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Herbert then dropped the bronze-medal match to Turkey's Ibrahim Bolukasi 1-0, 1-4, 5-4, and once again came up on the short end of a questionable call. Herbert held Bolukasi on his back in the third period and appeared to be on his way to winning the match before the referee awarded Bolukasi three points for Herbert exposing his back.
"You turn a guy. You hold him on his back and he gets three points for it," said Herbert. "That's tough for anybody to come back and win. That's half a tech fall. They just gave it to him."
Herbert said it's unfortunate that matches are often times decided by favorable or unfavorable calls.
"That's how the sport is," said Herbert. "It's unfortunate that it comes down to that right now. I wish they could find a more fair way for it. Some people are going to be in the ref's favor, and some people aren't. I'm living in the United States of America and it's the greatest country in the world, and these guys are all mad about that."
Jake Herbert supporters (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)Herbert, like Scott, had a large group of supporters in London, many of them waving yellow "terrible towels."
"They're amazing," said Herbert of his supporters. "I'm just sorry I let them all down. I know they'll say I didn't, but I wanted to come out of here with hardware, and I'm not leaving with it. So it sucks."
Jared Frayer (66 kilos) and Jake Varner (96 kilos) will compete for the U.S. on Sunday, the final day of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Frayer, the oldest member of the U.S. men's freestyle team, faces Ali Shabanau of Belarus in his first match. A win would put him against the winner of a match between 2010 World bronze medalist Jabrail Hasanov of Azerbaijan and Leonid Bazan of Bulgaria.
Varner, a 2011 World bronze medalist, drew Kurban Kurbanov of Uzbekistan in his first match. Assuming Varner gets past the Uzbekistan wrestler he will meet the winner of a match between Javier Cortina of Cuba and Khetag Pliev of Canada. Pliev attended high school in the U.S. at Lakota East in Ohio, where he won two state titles and an NHSA Nationals title. He was sixth at the 2010 World Championships.
Wrestling gets underway on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. London time, 3:30 a.m. ET.
Taymazov wins rare third Olympic gold medal
Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan, the wrestler who defeated Tervel Dlagnev in the semifinals, cemented his name among the all-time freestyle greats by becoming a three-time Olympic gold medalist. His victory in the gold-medal match at 120 kilos came over Davit Modzmanashvili of Georgia.
Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan on the award stand after winning a rare third Olympic gold medalOnly two other freestyle wrestlers in history have won three Olympic gold medals: Aleksandr Medved and Buvaisar Saitiev.
Taymazov talked about staying motivated to win a third Olympic gold medal at age 33.
"I lived for it," said Taymazov. "I think about it all the time. I've got a silver and two gold medals and I wanted to get the third gold. There was also a time pressure, because I am 33. But it was my time."
Taymazov said we have not seen the last of him.
"I don't plan to retire yet but for six months I'll take time off," said Taymazov. "Rest assured, for six months I'm not going to do anything."
Day 7 Olympic Wrestling Placewinners (Men's Freestyle)
Gold: Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan)
Silver: Besik Kudukov (Russia)
Bronze: Coleman Scott (USA)
Bronze: Yogeshwar Dutt (India)
5th: Kenichi Yumoto (Japan)
5th: Ri Jong Myong (North Korea)
7th: Masoud Esmailpourjouybari (Iran)
8th: Hassan Ibrahim Madani (Egypt)
9th: Malkhaz Zarkua (Georgia)
10th: Tim Schleicher (Germany)
Gold: Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan)
Silver: Jaime Espinal (Puerto Rico)
Bronze: Dato Marsagishvili (Georgia)
Bronze: Ehsan Lashgari (Iran)
5th: Soslan Gattsiev (Belarus)
5th: Ibrahim Bolukbasi (Turkey)
7th: Jake Herbert (USA)
8th: Anzor Urishev (Russia)
9th: Ibragim Aldatov (Ukraine)
10th: Armands Zvirbulis (Latvia)
Gold: Artur Taymazov (Uzbekistan)
Silver: Davit Modzmanashvili (Georgia)
Bronze: Komeil Ghasemi (Iran)
Bronze: Bilyal Makhov (Russia)
5th: Tervel Dlagnev (USA)
5th: Daulet Shabanbay (Kazakhstan)
7th: Chuluunbat Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia)
8th: Alexei Shemarov (Belarus)
9th: Taha Akgul (Turkey)
10th: Rares Chintoan (Romania)