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Williams named TheMat.com Athlete of the Week



Joe Williams (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) named TheMat.com Athlete of the Week for the week of January 27-Feb. 2. Each week, TheMat.com will select an Athlete of the Week, based upon performance within wrestling for that week. The selection committee will consider any level of wrestling, from youth programs through the Senior level. The announcement will be made each week on Wednesday. Williams won a gold medal at 74 kg/163 lbs. at the Freestyle Olympic Qualifying event held in Bratislava, Slovakia, Feb. 1-2. The top five wrestlers in each weight division at this event qualified their nations to compete at that weight in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Williams won the gold medal with a 3-0 win over 2003 Pan American Championships gold medalist Ivan Fundora of Cuba. In the semifinals, he defeated past World champion Arayik Gevorgyan of Armenia 9-4. To clinch the qualification spot, Williams posted a thrilling 4-3 quarterfinal win over Krystian Brzozowski. Williams fell behind 3-0 on points scored off of Williams' throw attempt. Williams fired back with four second-period points to earn the win and qualify the United States for the 2004 Olympic Games at his weight class. Williams defeated Habib Mohmed of Qatar 3-2 and Eugen Preda of Romania in pool competition. "I am glad I qualified the weight class. Now I can focus on making the Olympic team and realizing my lifelong dream," Williams said. The U.S. also qualified an Olympic spot at 66 kg/145.5 pounds when Chris Bono placed third. The U.S. now has qualified a full seven-athlete freestyle team for the Athens Games, as the other five weight classes were previously qualified. "We are pleased with this performance," said USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson. "We came here to get a job done - qualify our final two weight classes for the Olympics. We did that. Now we can go home and begin preparations for Nationals, Trials and the Olympics." Williams was a 2001 World bronze medalist, and placed fourth in the 1999 World Championships. He also competed at the 2003 World Championships. He won a gold medal at the 1999 and 2003 Pan American Games and boasts four World Cup gold medals (2000-03). He has won four U.S. Nationals titles Williams was a three-time NCAA Div. I champion for the Univ. of Iowa. He attended Mt. Carmel High School in Illinois, where he was the ASICS Tiger High School Wrestler of the Year. THEMAT.COM ATHLETES OF THE WEEK FOR 2004 January 27-February 2 - Joe Williams (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) January 20-26 - Sara McMann (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids)
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