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Taymazov repeat freestyle 120 kg gold medalist

Aug. 21, 2008, 8:03 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan repeated as the Olympic freestyle wrestling champion at 120 kilograms (264 1/2 pounds), denying Russia its seventh wrestling gold medal in Beijing by defeating Bakhityar Akhmedov 3-0, 1-0 on Thursday.

Taymazov joined Russia's Mavlet Batirov (60 kg, 132 pounds) and Buvaysa Saytiev (74 kg, 163 pounds) as repeat freestyle gold medalists from Athens.

Taymazov, 29, was a silver medalist in 2000 and has three medals, none worse than silver, in the last three Olympics.

Taymazov also won world championships in 2003 and 2006.

The bronzes went to 2000 gold medalist David Musulbes of Slovakia and Marid Mutalimov of Kazakhstan.

The 21-year-old Akhmedov, one of two Russian finalists Thursday who are 23 or younger, moved onto the national team earlier this year when 2007 world champion Beylai Makhov developed health issues related to what Russian news outlets reported was mercury poisoning.

Akhmedov made an uncommon jump, from junior wrestling to the Olympic finals in only one year, only to be denied a gold by one of the most skillful and seasoned super heavyweights to wrestle in any Olympics.

Akhmedov narrowly got past Steve Mocco of the United States 0-1, 1-0, 2-0 in the quarterfinals when he threw Mocco out of a clinch to begin the overtime.

Mocco went into the bronze medal bracket, but twice gave up 3-point throws and was beaten 3-1, 4-1 by Fardin Masoumi of Iran in the first of two matches he needed to win for a bronze.

Mocco was a longtime runner-up in major U.S. championships - four times finishing second in nationals - before winning the Olympic trials.

"Winning by one (in the first period), we weren't able to put our shutdown defense out there," U.S. coach Kevin Jackson said. "Steve just wasn't reacting out there and did some things that were out of character. ... He said he didn't know where his head was at."

The United States left Beijing with three wrestling medals, Henry Cejudo's freestyle gold medal at 55 kg (121 pounds) and bronzes by Adam Wheeler (99 kg, 211 1/2 pounds) in Greco-Roman and Randi Miller (63 kg, 138 3/4 pounds) in women's wrestling.

It was America's worst wrestling showing since it managed two medals, both silvers in freestyle, in 1968. The freestyle team hadn't produced as few as one medal since getting only a bronze in Tokyo in 1964.

"We need to be more like the Russians, the other countries that put a lot of money into this sport," Jackson said. "A Russian gets $500,000 for a gold, an American gets $50,000. Who do you think is going to put more into trying to win?"

Russia's six golds, including one at 96 kg (211 1/2 pounds) on Thursday by the 23-year-old Shirvani Muradov, were one more than it won in Athens in 2004. Russia won three of the seven freestyle weights after taking six of seven in last year's world championships.