Thursday, August 14, 2008

Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling 84k/96k Finals

Beijing, China—Andrea Minguzzi of Italy took a few deep breaths and smiled as he stepped up to the podium to receive his Olympic gold medal. Victory gleamed in his eyes as he put his arm around the Chinese escort girl and kissed her on cheek in front of swarms of cameras. Suddenly, Ara Abrahamian of Sweden snatched his Bronze medal from around his own neck, threw it down in the center of the ring, and stormed out of the arena.

The 84 Kilo Bronze Medal Freestyle Wrestling bout of the 2008 Olympics saw Melonin Noumonvi of France face off with Ara Abrahamian of Sweden. Off the whistle, France jockeyed for underhooks and tried to create space for a hip-toss, but Sweden pushed him out of bounds. Sweden went down and France struggled to lift him over for a point. The second period saw little action as Sweden went down and defended for thirty seconds to win the Bronze Medal by points. France refused to shake Sweden's hand.

The United State's Adam Wheeler stepped up to the mat on a mission to fight Korea's Tae-Young Han for the Bronze Medal in the 96 Kilo match. Adam pushed his opponent around, man-handling him relentlessly on his feet. When Korea went down, Adam attempted to turn him from a high chest-lock instead of a gut-wrench, which Korea took advantage of by spinning and ending up on top of him. Then Adam went down and Korea attempted a turn from the gut-wrench, but Adam slipped out of it and ended up on top for near-fall as well. "USA! USA!” cheered fans as Adam Wheeler became the only American to medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling, and in his first Olympics nonetheless!

For the 84 Kilo Gold Medal, Hungary's Zoltan Fodor went toe-to-toe with Andrea Minguzzi of Italy. Right off the bat, Italy went after an arm-drag, while an aggressive Hungary shucked him by. Italy went down and pretty much scooted out of bounds, no points were awarded. Then Hungary went down while Italy smacked him against the mat repeatedly attempting for a lift. A bit of unnecessary roughness maybe seeing as Hungary only scooted out of bounds as well. The score remained tied at 1-1 in the first period.

Second period, Italy worked a gut-wrench on the mat attempting a lift unsuccessfully, while Hungary leapt out from under him, only to be pounced on again by Italy. Still no points awarded. They slapped hands into the third period.

Jockeying for hand control and underhooks, they stood shoulder to shoulder with little activity until Italy went down. Taking Hungary's strategy, Italy leapt up from bottom and scrambled back to neutral. Hungary went down and Italy exploded into an amazing back-suplex sending Hungary's feet flying in a wide arc over his head! Italy jumped up and down as the ref raised his hand, and both wrestlers hugged in a gesture of good sportsmanship.

After his grueling match, Andrea Minguzzi of Italy flew into a back flip and took a victory lap around the mats to his countrymen singing his national anthem, holding his flag above him like a flying badge of honor as he ran. Though exhausted and sweating buckets, the look of joy and relief on his face was amazing. This was his moment in the spotlight, he was a star, and as he jumped onto the railings to shake the Chinese audience members' hands, I thought of how cool it must have been to be there in person to see him become an Olympic Champion.

Live coverage of Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling continues on Previous results are posted on my blog at

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