|Saturday, December 8
Gardner beats two-time bronze medalist Saldadse
PATRAS, Greece -- Olympic champion Rulon Gardner advanced to the quarterfinals of the Greco-Roman Wrestling World Championships, defeating Ukraine's Georgiy Saldadse on Saturday.
Saldadse, a two-time bronze medalist in the worlds, lost a 3-0 decision in the 286-pound category.
"I was not properly prepared," he said. "Wrestling doesn't forgive mistakes like that."
Gardner, of Afton, Wyo., shocked three-time gold medalist Alexander Karelin at the Sydney Olympics. Karelin hadn't lost since 1985.
These championships had been planned for New York but were postponed and moved after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bulgaria held the freestyle events last month.
Russia's Alexandre Bezroutchkine won his first world championship title, overpowering Cuba's Ernesto Pena. The Russian scored six unanswered points in the first two minutes to win the 213}-pound title 7-0.
"The final score may show an easy victory, but a final can never be easy," Bezroutchkine said.
Turkey's Mehmet Ozal won bronze after his 7-5 victory over Petru Sudureak, the Romanian silver medalist at the 1995 worlds.
In the 119-pound event, Iran's Hassan Rangraz also won his first world title, topping American Brandon Paulson 8-4. Rangraz celebrated by running around the mat, waving his country's flag and doing backflips.
Cuba's Lazaro Rivas, a silver medalist at Sydney, won the bronze, defeating Kyrgyzstan's Uran Kalilov 3-1.
Ara Abrahamian of Sweden captured the 167½-pound title after pinning Russia's Alexei Mishine in overtime to win 5-0. The bout was a rematch of the final in the European Championships in Turkey in May, when the Russian won.
The bronze went to South Korea's Kim Jin-soo, who defeated Ukraine's Sergeij Solodkij 3-0 six seconds into overtime.
Armenia's Vagninak Galustyan recovered from a 2-0 deficit to win the 138}-pound category. He won 8-3, beating South Korea's Kim In-sub, the 1999 world champion and Sydney silver medalist.
Israel's Michael Beilin flipped Cuba's Juan Maren seven seconds into overtime to win 3-0 and take the bronze.
Earlier, at 127} pounds, Bulgaria's Armen Nazaryan beat Hungary's Istvan Majoros 4-0 and Japan's Katsuhiko Nagata defeated Venezuela's Endrix Arteaga 4-1 in their bout at 152 pounds.
Also advancing out of their pools were Olympic medalists in the 187¼-pound competition, including Matt Lindland of the United States, Hamza Yerlikaya of Turkey and Sandor Bardosi of Hungary.