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Wrestling at the 2012 London Summer Games:

Men's Heavyweight, Freestyle

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Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): ExCeL, Newham, London
Date Started: August 12, 2012
Date Finished: August 12, 2012
Format: Single elimination tournament. Competitors losing to the finalists entered repechage tournament for bronze medals.

Gold: USA Jake Varner
Silver: UKR Valeriy Andriitsev
Bronze: AZE Xetaq Qazyumov
GEO Giorgi Gogshelidze


[Reza Yazdani] of Iran was the reigning World Champion in men’s heavyweight freestyle wrestling, but he had also found success as a light-heavyweight earlier in his career, with two World Championship bronze medals (2006 and 2007) and an Asian Games title from 2006. He had switched to heavyweight in 2010 and again won a gold medal in the Asian Games, as well as at that year’s Asian Championships. Yazdani was a favorite, but he was expected to be challenged by [Abdusalam Gadisov] who, as the 2012 European Champion, represented the strong Russian presence in this event, as Russian wrestlers had won the past two Olympics. These two were the favorites and, when they were drawn into the same bracket, the question of who would challenge for gold remained an elusive one.

Yazdani and Gadisov met in the 1/8th finals, where Yazdani emerged victorious and moved on to the semi-finals, where he experienced intense pain from an old knee injury in the first period fight against [Valeriy Andriitsev] of Ukraine and had to be taken out of the arena in a wheelchair. Andriitsev was the runner-up at the most recent European Championships and met [Jake Varner] of the United States in the gold medal match, who was a bronze medalist from the 2011 World Championships. The two were ferocious, but evenly-matched, in the final but Varner was able to score just one point in each period to earn the Olympic crown.

The first bronze medal bout was contested between [Kurban Kurbanov] of Uzbekistan,2011 Asian Champion, runner-up at the 2010 Asian Games, and bronze medalist at the 2007 World Championships, and [Giorgi Gogshelidze] of Georgia, a former competitor for Russia who was a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, 2001 World Champion, and 2008 European Champion among a host of other accolades. Kurbanov managed to push Gogshelidze out of the ring in the first period to win it, but the Georgian got his revenge by scoring four unanswered points in the first minute of the second round. In the final period, Gogshelidze continued to be dominant and evoked little response from the Uzbek, winning the bronze medal with a score of 2-0. The battle for the final podium spot would ostensibly have been between Yazdani and the winner of repêchage round two but, with the Iranian injured, the true deciding match was the repêchage, fought between [Rustam Iskandari] of Tajikistan, a rookie, and [Xetaq Qazyumov] of Azerbaijan, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, 2010 World Champion, 2009 world runner-up, and thrice European Champion (2009-2011). Qazyumov was the overwhelming favorite and did not disappoint; although Iskandari scored the first point, he was not able to repeat it, losing 1-3 and 0-3 to give the Azerbaijani his second Olympic bronze.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Jake Varner 26 United States USA Gold
2 Valeriy Andriitsev 25 Ukraine UKR Silver
3T Xetaq Qazyumov 29 Azerbaijan AZE Bronze
3T Giorgi Gogshelidze 32 Georgia GEO Bronze
5T Reza Yazdani 27 Iran IRI
5T Kurban Kurbanov 27 Uzbekistan UZB
7 Magomed Musayev 23 Kyrgyzstan KGZ
8 Takao Isokawa 28 Japan JPN
9 Abdusalam Gadisov 23 Russia RUS
10 Khetag Pliev 28 Canada CAN
11 Nicolai Ceban 26 Moldova MDA
12 Rustam Iskandari 20 Tajikistan TJK
13 Javier Cortina 25 Cuba CUB
14T Taymuraz Tigiyev 30 Kazakhstan KAZ
14T Sinivie Boltic 30 Nigeria NGR
16 Serhat Balcı 30 Turkey TUR
17 Ruslan Sheykhov 35 Belarus BLR