The United States captured numerous medals in wrestling competition on Thursday at the 2020 Olympics, including David Taylor walking away with gold.
The former Penn State standout nicknamed “The Magic Man” had an epic back-and-forth battle with two-time World Champion Hassan Yazdani Charati from Iran in their third meeting in an all-time series.
While Taylor was 2-0 in previous meetings with the Iranian wrestler, he was in trouble in the third match with time running down in the gold medal match after Yazdani secured a late lead.
Yazdani was holding onto a 3-2 lead late into the six-minute match when Taylor exploded forward with a clutch takedown with just a second remaining to score the crucial two points in order to win. With Taylor up 4-3, Yazdani was unable to scramble for any last second points and the match was decided.
Taylor had been dominant in his run through the Olympics up to the rematch with Yazdani, with the former NCAA champion scoring three technical falls in his previous matches with scores of 11-0, 12-2 and 10-0. Now Taylor celebrates a gold medal victory in the finals at 86kg on Thursday.
Meanwhile at 74kg, Kyle Dake suffered a stunning upset defeat in his bid to become an Olympic champion after he fell 11-0 to Mahamedkhabib Kadzimahamedau from Belarus.
Dake already had a tough match to start the day, although he eventually won with a 4-0 score but things just went from bad to worse for the former Cornell wrestler while taking on Kadzimahamedau in the quarterfinals.
Once Kadzimahamedau scored to gain an early lead over the American, Dake struggled to put together any kind of offense and the points just kept adding up until the match was stopped due to a technical fall.
A four-time NCAA champion at four different weight classes, Dake entered the tournament as the favorite to leave with a gold medal but now he’ll have to wait until Friday’s competition to see if he’s able to secure a bronze instead.
At heavyweight, 21-year-old phenom Gable Steveson earned his way into a gold medal match on Thursday after he decimated the competition in Tokyo.
The University of Minnesota star was poised for a potential run through the Olympics but with a lack of overall experience at the international level it was still unknown just how far Steveson would make it. He quickly answered those questions with a shutout 10-0 performance over Aiaal Lazarev from Kyrgyzstan and then made jaws drop after he blanked 2016 Olympic champion Taha Akgul from Turkey with an 8-0 victory in the quarterfinals.
Steveson then punched his ticket into the gold medal match with a 5-0 win over Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur from Mongolia.
He will now clash with 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Geno Petriashvili from Georgia with a gold medal on the line Friday.
The U.S. team also secured a bronze medal at 57kg after former Iowa wrestler Thomas Gilman tore through Reza Atrinagharchi with a 9-1 victory. Gilman suffered a heartbreaking loss earlier in the tournament, which forced him into the repechage rounds where he quickly dispatched two opponents to capture the bronze medal.
2016 Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis also won a bronze medal with a perfect 11-0 victory over Khongorzul Boldsaikhan from Mongolia. Maroulis was placed into the bronze medal match after she fell 2-1 to eventual gold medalist Risako Kawai from Japan in the semifinals.
Maroulis is now the first woman in American wrestling history to capture two medals in Olympic competition.
She’s also the second woman to capture a medal at the 2020 games after Tamyra Mensah-Stock won gold at 68kg earlier in the week. With the win, Mensah-Stock became the first Black woman in U.S. wrestling history to capture a gold medal.