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Russia dominates Olympic men's Greco-Roman wrestling
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21:44, August 14, 2008

Russia dominated the Olympic men's Greco-Roman wrestling which ended here on Thursday evening, gaining three gold medals and one silver of the most eye-catching super heavyweight competition.

Continuing the momentum of gaining two golds, in both 55kg and 60kg, on the first day of Greco-Roman wrestling, Russian Aslanbek Khushtov defeated German Mirko Englich in the men's 96kg class.

Khushtov overwhelmed his rival for the comfortable victory of two bouts after both Athens Olympic gold medalist Karam Gaber of Egypt and silver medalist Ramaz Nozadze of Georgia were knocked out early in the competition. The winning Khushtov said, "It was a long way for me to win this medal, and I think it was God's award for all my suffering and hard work."

After confessing his disappointment of being the second, Englich said, "Anyway, I felt something heavy (the silver medal) on my neck now, so I cannot complain more."

In the 120kg super heavyweight fight, defending Olympic champion Khasan Baroev of Russia was frustrated by world champion Mijain Lopez, who won Cuba its first gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Lopez said, "No one can beat Khasan except me. Both of us were in good form. Though he lost, entering the final competition was surely the great thing."

The losing Russian said, "Lopez is the best in the world. But if I had one more chance, I would have beaten him."

Italian wrestler Andrea Minguzzi won the gold medal in the men's 84kg category after a disputed semifinal fight with Swedish Ara Abrahamian.

With a brilliant throw of silver medalist Zoltan Fodor of Hungary to the passivity zone, Minguzzi unquestionably won the title in the final.

Minguzzi said, "To me, it is worth the world. I'm ecstatic right now. I couldn't be happier."

Fodor said, "I'm quite disappointed and today is Minguzzi's lucky day. He made the right action at the right moment. He is not stronger than me, but lucky."

The most frustrated wrestler on Thursday was obviously not the Hungarian. Abrahamian was enraged after being judged losing points to Minguzzi in the semifinal Thursday morning. The Swedish even posed physical threats to the head referee after failed verbal appeals.

Abrahamian, silver medalist in the Athens Olympics, continued showing his uncontrolled rage by refusing the bronze medal he won later and walking down from the podium a few seconds into the victory ceremony.

When commenting on Abrahamian refusal to accept the Olympic bronze, Minguzzi said "his action did spoil the victory ceremony. I understand he was dissatisfied with the referee given that one point was deducted. But in sports I think it is appropriate to show sportsmanship."

The Swedish said "I think that my semifinal loss was totally unjustified." The furious wrestler was persuaded by his friends to compete in the bronze medal competition.

"I didn't want to let them down, so I wrestled, but I don't care about this (bronze) medal," Abrahamian said. "This will be my last match."

China also made a breakthrough in the Olympic men's Greco-Roman wrestling. Chang Yongxiang of 74kg won China the first men's wrestling silver. Before that, the best results were the three Olympic bronze medals obtained by Sheng Zetian, who is now head coach of the Chinese national wrestling team.


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 Final ranking of Greco-Roman 96kg wrestling
1 China 22 7 5 34
2 USA 10 9 14 33
3 South Korea 6 6 1 13
5 Germany 6 1 3 10
4 Australia 5 4 7 16
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