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Sunday, December 9
Gardner takes 286-pound title in overtime

Associated Press

PATRAS, Greece -- American Olympic champion Rulon Gardner added a world title to his trophy collection Sunday, capturing the gold medal at the Greco-Roman Wrestling World Championships.

Gardner took the 286-pound title, defeating Hungary's Mihaly Deak-Bardos 2-0 at the end of overtime.

"I feel quite happy because luck and technique gave me the gold medal," said the 30-year-old native of Afton, Wyo., wearing a victory wreath of olive leaves on his head.

Gardner shot to fame last year, when he beat three-time Olympic champion Alexander Karelin of Russia for the gold at the Sydney Games.

"I am not the new Karenin," Gardner said Sunday. "He was the god of wrestling."

Greece hosted the Greco-Roman championships after the event was moved from New York because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Gardner said he would visit U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. "I won't celebrate my victory," he said. "I will go back to my country, and after that I am planning a trip to Asia to visit and encourage the American troops there."

On Sunday, he became the third American to win gold at the worlds. Dennis Hall won in 1995 and Michael Houck in 1985.

Cuba finished first in the team standings with 54 points and Russia second with 38. For the first time, the United States placed third overall, with 33 points. Previously, its best position had been fourth, in 1995.

With music from the "Zorba the Greek" playing, Greece's Xenofon Koutsioubas captured the 286-pound bronze against Bulgaria's Serguey Moreyko.

The Greek, at his first worlds, won 8-0 and brought the crowd to its feet as he ran around the mat with the host country's flag.

Matt Lindland, the American Olympic silver medalist, against took second place at 187¼ pounds. He lost to Georgia's Mukhran Vakhtangadze 2-1 at the end of overtime.

"I touched (the gold medal) but at the last minute it slipped out of my hands," Lindland said.

Oleksandr Daragan of Ukraine won the bronze, winning 3-2 in overtime against the Russian Alexandre Mentshikov.

At 127¾ pounds, Uzbekistan's Dilshod Aripov scored six unanswered points to snatch the world championship title from Karen Mnatsakanyan of Armenia 6-3.

Armen Nazaryan, the two-time Olympic champion from Bulgaria, was shut out after losing the bronze to Cuba's Roberto Monzon 3-1 in overtime.

Cuba's two-time Olympic gold medalist Filiberto Azcuy shut out Russia's Alexei Gloushkov 4-0 to take the 152-pound title.

"I am very happy for winning the gold medal," Azcuy said. "It was the only one that I didn't have in my collection." He won silver in 1998 and bronze at the 1997 worlds.

Ukraine's Rustam Adzhy took the bronze after pinning Sweden's Jimmy Samuelson in 1:28.

"I didn't expect such an easy victory," Adzhy said. "I would like to participate in the 2004 Olympics in Athens but I will be too old then."

The championships were held at Demetrios Tophalos stadium in the port of Patras, 130 miles west of Athens. Bulgaria hosted the freestyle events for the world championships last month.

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