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  • Photo: Larry Slater

    Photo: Larry Slater

    David Taylor to Wrestle for Olympic Gold

    David Taylor made the Olympic finals after three techs (Photo courtesy of Larry Slater; LBSphoto.smugmug.com)

    A pair of American's were in action in the second session of the day from the Makuhari Messe Event Hall on day four of the Olympic Games. Both suffered different fates, as David Taylor rolled to the gold medal match, while Helen Maroulis suffered a heartbreaking defeat.

    Wrestling in his first Olympic Games, Taylor squared off with Indian sensation Deepak Punia. In 2019, Punia was a Junior world champion and a silver medalist at the Senior World Championships. The second-seeded Punia proved to be an awkward matchup initially for Taylor. As the shot clock expired, in Taylor's favor, the American got in on a leg attack and earned a takedown. From the takedown, Taylor transitioned into a trapped-arm gut and got two turns. In the blink of an eye, Taylor was up 7-0. A short time later, after garnering another takedown and a step-out, Taylor ended the bout 10-0 on technical superiority. All before the first period ended.

    Taylor's win guaranteed another chapter in the history between himself and Iranian star Hassan Yazdani. A 2016 Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion, Yazdani has met Taylor on two occasions and lost both times. In each of those matchups, Yazdani jumped out to early leads, but crumbled under Taylor's constant pressure.

    Maroulis was in a super match of her own against fellow 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Risako Kawai of Japan. Kawai was able to slow down Maroulis for the bulk of the match and neither was able to generate an offensive point. The official deemed Maroulis was passive in the opening stanza and put her on the shot clock. After :30 seconds, Kawai got the only point of the first period. After little action early on in the second, the official made the unusual decision to put Maroulis on the shot clock, again. She would trail 2-0 after a second shot clock violation. With under a minute remaining in the second period, Kawai finally went on the clock, herself. Like the remainder of the bout, Maroulis was unable to penetrate the defense of her Japanese counterpart and she fell, 2-1.

    Since Maroulis was in the semifinals, she'll automatically drop into the bronze medal contest. There she'll face the winner between Fatoumata Camara (Guinea) and Khongorzul Boldsaikhan (Mongolia). Kawai defeated Camara 8-2 and Boldsaikhan 7-0.

    Also of note for American fans, Taylor's win pulls Michigan four-time All-American Myles Amine (San Marino) into repechage. He'll face four-time world medalist Ali Shabanau (Belarus).

    At 57 kg, two-time world champion Zavur Uguev (ROC) advanced to the gold medal bout after an 8-3 win over Reza Atrina (Iran). That win pulls Thomas Gilman into repechage. He'll need to go through Gulomjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan) and then Atrina for the bronze medal.

    American Results

    86 kg Men's Freestyle

    David Taylor (USA) over Deepak Punia (India) 10-0

    57 kg Women's Freestyle

    Risako Kawai (Japan) over Helen Maroulis (USA) 2-1

    Finals Matchups

    57 kg Men's Freestyle

    Zavur Uguev (ROC) vs. Ravi Kumar (India)

    86 kg Men's Freestyle

    David Taylor (USA) vs. Hassan Yazdani (Iran)

    57 kg Women's Freestyle

    Risako Kawai (Japan) vs. Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus)

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