Cejudo wins freestyle 55kg, Batirov takes 60kg gold

AFP
Aug 19, 2008 at 05:21pm IST

Beijing: Henry Cejudo, a son of illegal immigrants from Mexico, completed his American dream on Tuesday by crushing Japan's hopes of their first Olympic men's wrestling gold medal in two decades.

The 21-year-old Cejudo edged the first period and then scored a three-point takedown to sweep aside Japan's Asian champion Tomohiro Matsunaga for his first global crown in the freestyle 55kg final.

Russia's world champion Maviet Batirov meanwhile won his second straight Olympic title by beating Ukraine's Vasyl Fedoryshyn in the 60kg final on the opening day of the three-day men's freestyle competition.

DREAM FULFILLED: USA's Henry Cejudo celebrates his gold in 55kilogram freestyle wrestling division after defeating Japan's Tomohiro Matsunaga.

Batirov, 24, the 55kg champion in Athens four years ago, narrowly outpointed the three-time European champion in each of two rounds.

"I'm living the American Dream," said Cejudo, the sixth of seven children born to immigrant parents who separated due to criminal involvement in Los Angeles on his father's part.

His mother, Nelly Rico, took the family off to New Mexico and Arizona.

"The United States has given me a lot of opportunities," he said.

Cejudo said he had had no specific strategy for the final. "I just kept calm and tried to let the other guy score points in the second period."

Only 31st at last year's world championships, Cejudo stunned Velikov, the 2006 world champion, in overtime in the last 16 round on his way to the final.

Matsunaga, only 26th at last year's world championships, also upset Kudukhov with a fall in the semi-finals.

Japan last won a men's Olympic wrestling gold through Mitsuru Sato in the freestyle 55kg at the 1988 Seoul Games.

In contrast, Japan's women wrestlers have collected two golds, one silver and one bronze here as they did in Athens when their sport made its Olympic debut.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Russia who won five of the six world freestyle titles last year.

In the Greco-Roman competition earlier at the Games, Russia took three golds and one silver, compared with their two-gold haul in Athens.

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