Ben Provisor dropped his opening match at the Olympic Games (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Team USA's Ben Provisor and Robby Smith were knocked out of medal contention in their opening-round matches in Day 2 of Greco-Roman competition at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro Monday.
Provisor, 26, wrestling at 85 kilograms/187 pounds, lost to No. 2 seed Rustam Assakolov of Uzbekistan, 6-3. The match had been 2-1 when the defending World silver medalist scored a four-point throw to make the score 6-1. Provisor added two points later in the bout, but it wasn't enough for the Stevens Point, Wisconsin native to reverse the outcome.
"I have to hope that I can come back in four years and do it again," said Provisor. "It sucks that I didn't have the chance to go as far in this tournament than I wanted to but it is a live-and-learn process. The last three or four years, I have not been able to be on this stage. Now that I have gotten on this stage, I know I can wrestle and bang with these guys as well as I can. I made one mistake. I let the refs get to me a little bit and it is what it is."
Robby Smith fell to Sabah Shariati of Azerbaijan (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Smith, 29, the U.S. representative at 130 kilograms/286 pounds, fell to Sabah Shariati of Azerbaijan, 8-2. The California big man put points on the board first with a two-point arm throw to make the score 2-0. The No. 15-ranked Shariati scored a takedown and three gut-wrench turns to erase Smith's lead, and win by six points.
"I was prepared for this day," Smith said after his match. "This is the day I have been looking for my whole entire life. I was very excited to wrestle. I was in the best condition in my life. I thought I wrestled a very good match. I was prepared to go four matches today. It didn't happen."
Neither Provisor nor Smith qualified for the repechage after their opening-round rivals lost in the next round of competition.
Today's losses -- coupled with Sunday's disappointing results for Jesse Thielke and Andy Bisek at 59 kilograms/130 pounds and 75 kilograms/165 pounds respectively, and having no wrestlers qualify for action Tuesday at 66 kg and 98 kg -- mean that the U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers will have failed to earn a medal at a second consecutive Olympics, having left London without any hardware in 2012 and now Rio in 2016. Adam Wheeler was the last American to medal in Greco-Roman at the Olympics, earning a bronze in 2008.
"They have done everything I asked them to do," said U.S. head coach Matt Lindland. "We have got to continue doing what we are doing. I fell in love with the team, the guys. They are a part of each other's lives. They are more than a team; they are a family."
The gold-medal match at 85 kg will feature defending World champion and top-ranked Zhan Beleniuk of Ukraine taking on Russia's David Chavketadze, ranked No. 3 in the world. At 130 kg, it'll be a battle of two big men who carried the flags for their respective nations at the Opening Ceremonies last weekend in Rio. Top-ranked Riza Kayaalp of Turkey will tangle with Cuba's Mijain Lopez Nunez, ranked No. 2, for the gold at 130 kilograms.