Dremiel Byers wins silver medal in Greco-Roman wrestling at the World Championships
HERNING, Denmark – Dremiel Byers took one step off the medal podium and quickly pulled the medal off that he had draped around his neck.
The 35-year-old Byers turned in one of the best performances of his life on Sunday at the World Championships, but that didn’t make coming up short in the finals any easier for him.
Byers wanted to fly across the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow with his second gold medal.
Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) fought gamely, but fell short against Cuban superstar Mijain Lopez in the Greco-Roman finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. at the MesseCenter Herning. Byers won a silver medal.
Byers, a 2002 World champion and 2007 World bronze medalist, joins past U.S. heavyweight Matt Ghaffari with the most World medals in U.S. Greco-Roman history.
“I just wanted to fight. I didn't go out there to wrestle, I went out there and wanted to fight this guy,” Byers said back in the warmup area after the match. “I started pummeling and ended up getting a point, shortly thereafter, I knew how badly this guy would want to put on a show, and get close and attack the body and go for one of the big throws he could.”
Lopez, 27, won his third World title, to go with earlier titles in 2005 and 2007. He won Olympic gold in 2008. He also won a World silver medal in 2006.
Byers won the only Greco-Roman medal for the U.S. in Herning.
In the finals matchup, Byers was on top in the par terre in the final 30 seconds of the period. The powerful, 6-foot-5 Lopez stepped over a gut-wrench attempt by Byers to score a one-point reversal.
In the second period, the 6-foot-2 Byers grabbed the lead with a one-point pushout. Lopez came storming back, body-locking Byers to his back for the pin with just over a minute left in the period.
Byers dug down deep earlier in the day, winning two matches about 15 minutes apart in the quarterfinals and semifinals. He beat Sweden's Jalmar Sjoeberg in the quarters and Germany's Nico Schmidt in the semis. He avenged a loss to Sjoeberg from the 2008 Olympic Games.
Byers, a native of Kings Mountain, N.C., beat five-time World silver medalist Mihaly Deak-Bardos of Hungary in the second round. Byers competes for the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
Byers and Lopez won back-to-back matches in 2007 that gave the U.S. its only World team title in Greco-Roman wrestling. Byers won his bronze match and then Lopez won gold to give the U.S. a one-point win over Russia.
Byers and Lopez met earlier this year in Cuba, with Lopez winning the match. Byers has one career win against Lopez.
Byers hoped to win the World title in memory of his beloved and late grandfather, Theodore Byers.
Byers will receive a $25,000 bonus from the Living the Dream Medal Fund for winning a silver medal.
Americans Harry Lester (74 kg/163 lbs.) and Faruk Sahin (66 kg/145.5 lbs.) fell short of placing on Sunday. Lester, a two-time World bronze medalist, went 0-2. Sahin, who made his first World Team, went 1-1.
Lester lost a controversial first-round match to eventual silver medalist Mark Madsen of Denmark. Lester was called for a caution and one for apparently grabbing the hand while defending in par terre.
Turkey won the team title with 44 points, followed by Iran (39) and Azerbaijan (38). The U.S., which won the last World team title in 2007, finished 15th with 11 points.
“We’ve just got to get better. We’re not that good yet,” U.S. National Coach Steve Fraser said. “We've got some young guys and we've got some experienced guys, but we've got to continue to prepare properly and that means matches. International matches, we need lots of them.”
The U.S. finished with three overall medals in the seven-day tournament. Jake Herbert won a silver medal and Tervel Dlagnev won bronze five days ago.