For the third straight year, Armenia's Artur Aleksanyan has won a major global title. The two-time reigning world champion defeated Cuba's Yasmany Lugo in the final round of the 98kg Greco-Roman wrestling tournament to win his first Olympic gold medal.
Aleksanyan got on the board by turning Lugo from the par terre position for two points in the opening period. With the score at 2-0, Lugo had a chance to score from par terre in the second period but couldn't convert. Aleksanyan added another point to take a 3-0 victory.
"The Cuban is very strong fighting upright and this is how he usually scores," Aleksanyan said of the Gold Medal Match. "Therefore I had to be careful. But I followed the advice of my coaches."
It's the second Olympic medal in total for Aleksanyan, who earned bronze four years ago in London. He is now the first Armenian athlete in any sport to win multiple Olympic medals.
It's also Armenia's first Olympic gold medal since 1996 and just the country's second gold medal all-time. Its previous gold also came in wrestling.
"Right now, I do not have any emotions left," Aleksanyan said when asked to sum up his feelings about the day.
After a 5-2 victory in his first match, Aleksanyan did not give up a single point in his final three bouts from the quarterfinals onward. He was particularly dominant in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, ending both matches early with a pair of victories by technical fall.
As for Lugo, the silver medalist became the third Cuban to reach a Gold Medal Match in three days of wrestling competition. With the Greco-Roman phase of Olympic wrestling now complete, Cuba leads all countries in number of finalists and is tied with Russia for total wrestling medals with three.
"It's been a dream of mine to win an Olympic medal and now that I've realized that dream, it's a great feeling," Lugo said. "I was able to learn a lot from this experience and from my past wrestling experience. I hope to compete again in Tokyo."
Turkey's Cenk Ildem, the world No. 6, earned the first bronze after winning his medal match with Romania's Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu by a score of 4-0.
The other Bronze Medal Match was won by 2012 Olympic champion Ghasem Rezaei of Iran. Rezaei trailed Sweden's Fredrik Schoen 4-0 at the end of the first period, but when the wrestlers went into par terre in the second period, Rezaei was able to turn Schoen twice to tie the match and take the advantage on criteria. The score held up, giving the Iranian his second Olympic medal.
"I believe that it was a technical mistake that I made during the match, but I was able to recover very quickly," Rezaei said afterward. "It was from previous experience knowing that in the Olympics one move could make a difference. I wanted to make sure I could come back and I did."
98kg Greco-Roman quarterfinals
Aleksanyan (ARM) wins by tech fall 8-0 vs. Alexuc-Ciurariu (ROU)
Ildem (TUR) wins on criteria 1-1 vs. Magomedov (RUS)
Lugo (CUB) wins 4-0 vs. Rezaei (IRI)
Schoen (SWE) wins by tech fall 9-0 vs. Guri (BUL)
98kg Greco-Roman semifinals
Aleksanyan (ARM) wins by tech fall 9-0 vs. Ildem (TUR)
Lugo (CUB) wins 2-0 vs. Schoen (SWE)
98kg Greco-Roman repechage
Alexuc-Ciurariu (ROU) wins 3-0 vs. Timoncini (ITA)
Rezaei (IRI) wins 7-0 vs. Xiao (CHN)
98kg Greco-Roman Bronze Medal Matches
Ildem (TUR) wins 4-0 vs. Alexuc-Ciurariu (ROU)
Rezaei (IRI) wins on criteria 4-4 vs. Schoen (SWE)
98kg Greco-Roman Gold Medal Match
Aleksanyan (ARM) wins 3-0 vs. Lugo (CUB)