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David Taylor Wins Gold, Helen Maroulis And Thomas Gilman Bronze On Big Day For U.S. Wrestlers

By Karen Price | Aug. 05, 2021, 9:39 a.m. (ET)

David Taylor celebrates at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo. 


The “Magic Man” David Taylor is an Olympic champion, Helen Maroulis’ long journey brought her to the bronze medal and first-time Olympian David Gilman earned bronze as well in a big night for U.S. wrestlers in Tokyo on Thursday.

Making his much-anticipated Olympic debut, Taylor was an unstoppable force throughout the tournament in the 86 kg. classification. He won his first three matches by technical fall before facing top-seeded Hassan “The Greatest” Yazdanicharati, the defending gold medalist from Iran. Taylor came in with a 2-0 advantage, including a win at the 2018 world championships, and despite falling behind early on the Magic Man turned it on with a takedown to tie it. Yazdanicharati earned a point but Taylor’s second takedown with 20 seconds remaining put him up 4-3 before the final seconds ticked off the clock. Taylor, 30, of Penn State fame, is now undefeated in 52 consecutive international matches.

Helen Maroulis competes at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.


Maroulis made history five years ago in Rio by becoming the first U.S. woman to ever win wrestling gold at the Olympic Games, but this bronze medal may be even more meaningful.

The 29-year-old from Rockville, Maryland, battled through a series of injuries in recent years, including two concussions and a neck injury that left her with noise and light sensitivity, fatigue and anxiety stemming from post-traumatic stress disorder. She even retired from the sport for a short time. 

On Wednesday, she lost a close semifinal match, 2-1, at 57 kg. to Japan’s Risako Kawai, the 2016 Olympic champion at 62 kg. Maroulis won her Olympic title at 53 kg. On Thursday, she faced 20-year-old Khongorzul Boldsaikhan of Mongolia for the bronze. Between Maroulis’ experience and a 2-on-1 offensive move for which Boldsaikhan had no answer, the match was over just before time ran out. Maroulis took a 4-0 lead into the break and with just over a minute and a half remaining in the match was up 9-0, a point away from a win via technical superiority. She appeared to get it with 38 seconds left but Mongolia won a challenge to continue the match. It was only by seconds, though, and Maroulis finished things off shortly after. 

Thomas Gilman reacts at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.


Gilman, meanwhile, lost his very first match of Olympic competition to two-time defending world champion and No. 2 seed Zaur Uguev of the Russian Olympic Committee at 57 kg. He came through the repechage on Thursday morning, however, beating Gulomjon Abdullaev of Uzbekistan, 11-1, to advance to the bronze-medal match. 

The 26-year-old from Council Bluffs, Iowa, faced Iran’s Reza Atrinagharchi for the hardware. Atrinagharchi never gained ground against the former University of Iowa star as Gilman, who sprinted to the mat to start the competition, cruised to the podium with a 9-1 win. 

Also on Thursday, Gable Steveson advance to the gold-medal match with his semifinal win over Mongolia’s Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur at 125 kg., while two-time world champion Kyle Dake lost in the quarterfinal by technical fall to Mahamedkhabib Kadzimahamedau of Belarus. Dake will compete in Friday’s repechage round since Kadzimahamedau beat Italy’s Frank Chamizo in the semifinal. 

Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo2020 to view the medal table, results and competition schedule.

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.