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Wheeler wins bronze medal at 96 kg in Greco-Roman for the first U.S. wrestling medal

Aug. 14, 2008, 2:34 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING, CHINA - Adam Wheeler (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) won a bronze medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. on the final day of Greco-Roman wrestling at the China Agricultural University Gymnasium on Thursday evening.

He defeated Han Tae-Young of Korea in the bronze medal match, 3-1, 4-1. It was the first medal won by the United States in wrestling at the Beijing Games.

Wheeler won the first period after scoring two-points on a high gut wrench during the final par terre position. In the second period, Wheeler scored a two-point reversal from the bottom in the final par terre position to clinch the victory.

"My wife and my mother are here," said Wheeler during his press conference after the victory. "We have 19 people who came here for me, and it can't get any better than that."

Han was a 2006 Asian Games champion. His best finish at the World Championships was his 10th place performance at the 2006 World Championships in Guangzhou, China.

During the morning session, Wheeler won his first two matches, then was defeated in the semifinals by Mirko Englich of Germany, which placed him into the bronze-medal match.

"I am very happy for Adam," said National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser. "He has worked hard for many years, especially the last few months. "He has a great attitude. He is a wonderful, coachable kid."

Wheeler is competing on his first U.S. Senior World-level team after a number of years on the national scene. He is originally from Lancaster, Calif. Wheeler competed for the U.S. Navy, then the USOEC program at Northern Michigan Univ. before becoming a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

It was the final day of Greco-Roman competition at the Olympics. Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), who was eliminated on Thursday morning at 120 kg/264.5 lbs., placed seventh in his weight class. Two-time Olympian Brad Vering (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC), finished in 12th at 84 kg/185 lbs.

The wrestling competition resumes on Saturday, August 16 with the beginning of the women's freestyle tournament.