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|Tough draws, tough day for U.S. on Day 2 of Olympic wrestling competition
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Dremiel Byers battles World champion Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the Olympic quarterfinals. Larry Slater photo.
LONDON – Tough draws led to a tough day for the U.S. Greco-Roman Team on Day 2 of the Olympic wrestling competition.
The U.S. fell short of winning a medal on the second straight day of competition before a sellout crowd of 6,500 fans Monday at the ExCel North Arena 2
World champion Dremiel Byers opened by sweeping Uzbekistan’s Muminjon Abdullaev at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. before falling in two periods to 2011 World champion Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the quarterfinals.
Byers was unable to turn the Turk in par terre in the first period before Kayaalp scored a pushout to win the second period 1-0.
“I knew what kind of match to expect,” Byers said. “I trained for it. I didn’t fire as much as I wanted to, especially when I was on top. He tries to push you out on your feet – that’s what he does. I am supposed to be able to stop that.”
Byers was eliminated when three-time World champion and 2008 Olympic champion Mijain Lopez of Cuba beat Kayaalp in the semifinals. Kayaalp, who beat Lopez in the 2011 World finals in Turkey, needed to reach the finals here to pull Byers back in for the repechage.
Byers, who turns 38 next month, has been a fixture at heavyweight for the U.S. He won World gold, silver and bronze medals, and led the American team to the World team title in 2007. He fell short of winning a medal at the Olympics for the second straight time.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Byers said. “It just hurts. It didn’t work out the way I needed it to. I tried to leave it all out there, but just came up short.”
American Ellis Coleman fell to 2011 World bronze medalist Ivo Angelov of Bulgaria in the first round at 60 kg/132 lbs. Coleman was unable to turn Angelov in par terre in the first period before coming up short in the second period.
Coleman was eliminated when Angelov fell short of the finals after losing to 2011 World champion Omid Noroozi of Iran in the second round.
Coleman, 20, a two-time Junior World bronze medalist, was competing in his first Olympics.
“I did everything right in my preparation,” Coleman said. “I tried as hard as I could. It could have been my weight cut or could’ve been nerves. I just didn’t go out there and compete. I was hoping to win instead of wanting to win.”
American Chas Betts rolled to a win over Micronesia’s Keitani Graham in the first round at 84 kg/185 lbs. before falling to 2010 World silver medalist Pablo Shorey Hernandez of Cuba. Hernandez won 1-0, 1-0.
Betts beat the Cuban in the Pan American Championships earlier this year before falling to him later in the season in the finals of the Pan American Olympic Qualifier.
Betts was eliminated when Hernandez was pinned in the quarterfinals by 2011 World silver medalist Damian Janikowski of Poland. Betts, a 2009 World Team member, was competing in his first Olympic Games.
“The loss is tough, and it’s even tougher to have to sit and watch your guy try to carry you through,” Betts said. “I was pretty confident in him getting to the finals, but it didn’t work out. It’s pretty disappointing. The Olympics never go the way you expect them to. It’s a pretty eye-opening experience.”
The U.S. is now 4-6 in Greco-Roman competition heading into the final day for that style of wrestling.
"Obviously, we're disappointed," U.S. National Coach Steve Fraser said. "We didn't come here to not win a lot of medals. It's no easy task here. We just didn't do it, but we have one more chance tomorrow."
Day 3 of the eight-day Olympic wrestling tournament is scheduled for Tuesday at the ExCel Center. Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. (8 a.m. Eastern Time) in London. Fans can watch a live webcast of the event on nbcolympics.com.
American Justin Lester (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) is scheduled to compete at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. on Tuesday. Lester is a two-time World bronze medalist who placed fifth in the World in 2011. He is competing in his first Olympics.
"We think Lester can win a gold medal," Fraser said. "I'm excited to see what he can do for us."
ExCel Center, London, England
60 kg/132 lbs.
Gold – Omid Noroozi (Iran)
Silver – Revaz Lashki (Georgia)
Bronze – Zaur Kuramagomedov (Russia)
Bronze – Ryutaro Matsumoto (Japan)
84 kg/180.5 lbs.
Gold – Alan Khugaev (Russia)
Silver – Karam Gaber (Egypt)
Bronze – Danjel Gajiyev (Kazakhstan)
Bronze – Damian Janikowski (Poland)
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Gold – Mijian Lopez (Cuba)
Silver – Heiki Nabi (Estonia)
Bronze – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)
Bronze – Johan Euren (Sweden)
60 kg/132 lbs.
Omid Noroozi (Iran) dec. Revaz Lashki (Georgia), 1-0, 1-0
84 kg/185 lbs.
Alan Khugaev (Russia) dec. Karam Gaber (Egypt), 1-0, 1-0
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Mijian Lopez (Cuba) dec. Heiki Nabi (Estonia), 2-0, 1-0
60 kg/132 lbs. – Ellis Coleman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
LOSS Ivo Angelov (Bulgaria), 0-1, 1-7
84 kg/185 lbs. – Chas Betts, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Minnesota Storm) - 9th
WIN Keitani Graham (Micronesia), 6-0, 1-0
LOSS Pablo Shorey Hernandez (Cuba), 0-1, 0-1
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Dremiel Byers, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army) - 9th
WIN Muminjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan), 1-0, 2-0
LOSS Riza Kayaalp (Turkey), 0-1, 0-1