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Taylor to battle 2016 Olympic champion Yazdani of Iran in Olympic finals; Gilman pulled back into repechage

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

David Taylor (USA) celebrates his Olympic Games semifinals win at 86 kg. Photo by John Sachs,

MAKUHARI, Chiba, Japan – 2018 World champion David Taylor (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) powered through the semifinals with his third technical fall of the day, and will compete for a gold medal at 86 kg on Thursday night at the Makuhari Messe Hall A..

Taylor dispatched 2019 World silver medalist and No. 2 seed Deepak Punia of India, 10-0 in the semifinals, and will face 2016 Olympic champion Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran in the gold-medal finals.

Against Punia, Taylor got his first point after Punia was placed on the shot clock and did not score. Taylor followed with a takedown and two turns to extend his lead to 7-0. Another Taylor takedown made it 9-0, and he finished off the technical fall with a step out point.

Wrestling fans will anxiously await the finals battle between these two major international wrestling heroes. Taylor defeated Yazdanicharati, also a 2017 World champion, in the first round of the 2018 World Championships, before powering through the field for his first World title. Taylor missed the 2019 season with a knee injury, and Yazdanicharati came back to win the World title that year.

On Wednesday morning, Taylor scored a pair of dominant technical falls. In the first round, Taylor dismantled four-time World medalist Ali Shabanau of Belarus, 11-0. In the quarterfinals, Taylor took out the No. 3 seed, American-born Myles Amine of San Marino, 12-2.

In 2018, Taylor won gold in his first World Championships appearance and was named UWW’s Men’s Freestyle Wrestler of the Year. The next spring, Taylor suffered a season-ending injury, which ultimately kept him out of the 2019 Worlds. Taylor’s comeback began in 2020 when he earned gold at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier to qualify the USA for the Tokyo Games. Taylor hails from St. Paris, Ohio, and competed collegiately at Penn State.

2017 World silver medalist Thomas Gilman (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) will compete in the repechage round at 57 kg on Thursday morning,

Gilman dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to two-time defending World champion and No. 2 seed Zaur Uguev of ROC in the opening round. The match was not decided until the end, when Ugaev scored an exposure with five seconds left to win.

After scoring a last-second win in the quarterfinals, Ugaev competed tonight in the semifinals against Reza Atrinagharchi of Iran. Although the match was close for most of the bout, Ugaev opened it up at the end and scored an 8-3 victory.

Gilman will face Gulomjon Abdullaev of Uzbekistan in repechage on Thursday morning, and if he wins, he will compete in a bronze medal match against Atrinagharchi.

Gilman represented the U.S. at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. In his World debut, he secured the silver medal, and in 2018, he advanced to a medal match, but lost for a fifth-place finish. At the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier, Gilman beat out U23 World champion Reineri Andreu Ortega of Cuba to earn a quota spot for the USA. In the Olympic Trials, Gilman secured his spot on the Olympic Team, defeating 2019 Junior World silver medalist Vitali Arujau in the Olympic Trials finals. Originally from Omaha, Neb., Gilman was a star for the University of Iowa.

Group One U.S. men’s freestyle results

57 kg – Thomas Gilman (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC)

LOSS Zaur Uguev (Russia), 5-4

Repechage – Gulomjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan)

86 kg – David Taylor (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC)

WIN Ali Shabanau (Belarus), tech. fall 11-0

WIN Myles Amine (San Marino), tech fall 12-2

WIN Deepak Punia (India), tech. fall 10-0

Gold Medal Finals – Vs. Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran)

Group 1 men’s freestyle finals pairings

57 kg - Kumar Ravi (India) vs. Zavur Ugaev (Russia)

86 kg - Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran) vs. David Taylor (USA)

Group 1 men’s freestyle semifinal results

57 kg

Kumar Ravi (India) pin Nurislam Sanayev (Kazakhstan), 4:21

Zavur Ugaev (Russia) dec. Reza Atrinagharchi (Iran), 8-3

86 kg

Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran) dec. Artur Naifonov (Russia), 7-1

David Taylor (USA) tech. fall Deepak Punia (India), 10-0

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