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J'den Cox Wins Bronze, Team USA’s First Men’s Freestyle Medal Of Rio Games

By Megan Ellisor | Aug. 20, 2016, 5:38 p.m. (ET)

J'den Cox celebrates victory over Reineris Salas Perez of Cuba in the men's freestyle 86 kg. bronze-medal bout at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 2 on Aug. 20, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.


After falling in the semifinal round to Turkey’s Selim Yasar, No. 9-ranked J'den Cox came back to win the bronze medal in the men's wrestling 86 kg. weight class at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Saturday evening. His win gave Team USA its first men’s freestyle medal in Rio.

The two-time NCAA champion from Missouri scored a 3-1 decision over Cuba's Reineris Salas Perez in dramatic fashion. Cox was put on a shot clock and had 30 seconds to take down Salas Perez. The referee on the mat at first did not award Cox the takedown, prompting U.S. wrestling coach Bill Zadick to throw down the challenge stuffed animal (Rio’s mascot, Vinicius). Upon video review, the referee awarded Cox two points, giving him the lead with six seconds remaining.

Salas Perez refused to return to the mat to finish the bout, leading to his disqualification and solidifying Cox’s victory.

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