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Wrestling at the 2012 London Summer Games:

Men's Welterweight, 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: JPN Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu
Silver: IND Sushil Kumar
Bronze: CUB Liván López
KAZ Akzhurek Tanatarov


[Mehdi Taghavi] of Iran was the reigning World and Asian Champion in men’s welterweight freestyle wrestling, titles he had also won in 2009, and was considered the favorite to win the Olympic crown at the 2012 Games. The defending Olympic champion was [Ramazan Şahin] of Turkey, who had been World Champion in 2007 and European Champion in 2008, but had little to show on the international stage since his victory in Beijing. This left the final open for challengers such as [Sushil Kumar], a bronze medalist from the 2008 Games and India’s first World Champion wrestler, having won the title in 2010 along with the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Championships. There was also a threat from Russia’s [Alan Gogayev], reigning European Champion and runner-up at the 2010 World Championships.

Taghavi and Gogayev were both drawn in the same bracket, but shockingly lost their first rounds to [Liván López] of Cuba and [Zalimkhan Yusupov] of Tajikistan respectively. Both were unheralded wrestlers who were not expected to contend for a medal (although López had bronze from the 2011 World Championships) paving the way for [Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu] of Japan, 2010 Asian Games Champion and runner up at the most recent World Championships and the 2009 Asian Championships, to battle for gold. López and Yusupov’s eventual elimination meant that neither Taghavi nor Gogayev would compete for a medal. In the top half, Kumar defeated Şahin in his opening round and went on to win the bracket and challenge Yonemitsu. The first period of the final was somewhat tame, with the Japanese wrestler scoring the lone point to win. In the second round, Yonemitsu was able to lift the Indian and toss him on his back, scoring three points. Although Kumar was able to score one point, the period, and the gold medal, went to Japan. Neither wrestler went home without a place in the history books, however, as Yonemitsu was Japan’s first male wrestling gold medalist since in 1988 and Kumar was the first Indian wrestler to reach an Olympic final.

In the first bronze medal match, Şahin met [Akzhurek Tanatarov] of Kazakhstan, who had never reached the podium at a major international event. Şahin was the favorite in the match and lived up to expectations by outscoring Tanatarov 4-1 in the opening period. Tanatarov came back in the second round, however, when, with the score tied 1-1 in the final 10 seconds, scored a winning point with a takedown that gave him a 3-1 victory following an unsuccessful challenge from the Turkish coaches. The first half of the final period was intense, with the Kazakh outscoring the Turk 4-2, sufficient in the end to win him the round and the bronze medal. For the final podium spot, López battled [Cəbrayıl Həsənov] of Azerbaijan, European Champion in 2010 and 2011, runner-up in 2009, and bronze medalist at the last two World Championships. Həsənov won the first round with three points in the final 15 seconds, but López came back strong in the final two periods scoring two unanswered points for his first victory and pinning his opponent in the final 15 seconds of the match for the bronze.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu 25 Japan JPN Gold
2 Sushil Kumar 29 India IND Silver
3T Akzhurek Tanatarov 25 Kazakhstan KAZ Bronze
3T Liván López 30 Cuba CUB Bronze
5T Cəbrayıl Həsənov 22 Azerbaijan AZE
5T Ramazan Şahin 29 Turkey TUR
7 Haislan Garcia 29 Canada CAN
8 Davit Safaryan 22 Armenia ARM
9 Ikhtiyor Navruzov 23 Uzbekistan UZB
10 Ali Shabanov 22 Belarus BLR
11 Zelimkhon Yusufov 28 Tajikistan TJK
12 Otar Tushishvili 34 Georgia GEO
13 Andriy Kviatkovskiy 22 Ukraine UKR
14T Mehdi Taghavi 25 Iran IRI
14T Leonid Bazan 27 Bulgaria BUL
16 Alan Gogayev 22 Russia RUS
17 Jared Frayer 33 United States USA