Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - Page 19 News List

London 2012 Olympics: Japan and US claim titles on the final day of freestyle wrestling

Reuters, LONDON

Japan’s Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, right, fights with Canada’s Haislan Garcia in the men’s 66kg freestyle wrestling competition at the Excel Centre in London on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Japan won their fourth wrestling gold of the London Olympics on Sunday to record their best finish since 1968, while the US clinched a second to end the Games in fifth spot on the wrestling medals table.

Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu ended India’s dream of their first Olympic wrestling gold when he beat railway worker Sushil Kumar in the 66kg freestyle final.

Japan’s dominant women wrestlers won three golds and the men also picked up two bronzes to finish second in the final medals table, just behind Russia.

“I was lucky. It is impossible to do it just with my strength,” Yonemitsu said. “It’s because of a combination of luck, good condition, good performance and everything.”

India’s Kumar took India’s first silver in Olympic wrestling and said a stomach illness took the edge off his performance.

“Without the stomach infection, I could have tried harder,” said Kumar, who was India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.

US wrestler Jake Varner dominated Ukraine’s Valerii Andriitsev to win the 96kg freestyle final and give the US their first pair of wrestling golds since Sydney in 2000.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I expect to win every time I step on the mat. I smiled more than I usually do.”

Asked how he would celebrate, Varner added: “I don’t know, probably some chocolate milk or something like that.”

After winning the bout, the California-based wrestler sank to his knees as supporters in the packed arena roared, and waved the Stars and Stripes.

It was an upbeat end to the Games for the US team after they missed out on gold in the Greco-Roman discipline and in the women’s freestyle.

Jordan Burroughs won the other gold in the 74kg freestyle.

“Greco had a rough tournament and women had a rough one, but that’s how it goes sometimes, that’s how the cookie crumbles,” Varner said. “We went out there and did our job.”

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