Olympics roundup: Wrestler Varner shows he's 'the man'
LONDON — Cael Sanderson spent the past seven years teaching Jake Varner how to be a world champion — and he was there when Varner joined him as an Olympic gold medalist.
With the Penn State wrestling coach watching Sunday, Varner defeated Valerie Andriitsev of Ukraine, 1-0, 1-0, to win gold in the men's 96-kilogram freestyle.
Coupled with Jordan Burroughs' win at 74 kilograms Friday, it gave the Americans multiple gold medalists in men's wrestling for the first time since 1996.
“Still not sure I'm in his league, but it's awesome to be coached by a guy like that,” Varner said of Sanderson, a gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Varner and Sanderson's relationship began in 2005 at Iowa State, where Sanderson coached before jumping to Penn State. The day after Varner graduated in 2010, he drove 15 hours to Pennsylvania to train full-time with Sanderson.
Sanderson said last week that Varner had pounded on him during training sessions leading up to the Olympics. Varner showed that form by winning four straight matches for gold.
“He was going to get me to my ultimate goal, which was to win a gold medal at the Olympics — and that's what he did,” Varner said.
Sanderson said Varner was the same in the final as in any other match.
“That's one of the reasons he's so good,” he said. “He has great composure. That, in addition to just living the lifestyle for a long time. He's the man.”
Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda surged ahead late to capture his country's first medal of the Games.
Kiprotich finished in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second, holding off the Kenyan duo of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang. Kirui finished 26 seconds behind Kiprotich; Kipsang, the leader most of the race, faded late but held on for bronze just ahead of American Meb Keflezighi.
“People didn't expect Uganda. They thought Kenya, Ethiopia,” Kiprotich said. “Being unknown, now I'm known.”
Britain's final gold went to super heavyweight Anthony Joshua, who rallied from a late deficit to upset defending champ Roberto Cammarelle of Italy on a tiebreaker.
Joshua's big finish in the tournament's glamour division allowed him to match the titles won by bantamweight Luke Campbell and women's flyweight Nicola Adams, part of Britain's five-medal boxing haul.
Also winning divisions were Ukrainian lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, flyweight Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba, welterweight Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan and Russian light heavyweight Egor Mekhontsev.
Russia won its first gold in 32 years by rallying past Brazil.
Second-ranked Russia dropped the first two sets and faced two match points before putting together an impressive comeback in a 19-25, 20-25, 29-27, 25-22, 15-9 victory, paced by 7-foot-2 middle blocker Dmitriy Muserskiy's 31 points.
It was Russia's fourth gold in the event, most of any nation. Italy won its fourth medal in the past five Olympics by beating Bulgaria for the bronze.
The Russians won their fourth straight gold in the group event, easily beating Belarus. With Evgeniya Kanaeva winning the individual all-around Saturday, Russia won both rhythmic titles at every Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games.
Around the Games
Alexei Shved scored 25 points as Russia won its first medal in men's basketball with an 81-77 win over Argentina in the bronze-medal game. ... Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic won a two-man sprint to take gold in the men's mountain bike race. ... France won its second consecutive gold in men's handball with a 22-21 win over Sweden. ... Croatia won its first gold in men's water polo, pulling away from Italy for an 8-6 win. ... Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu topped the men's 66-kilogram freestyle wrestling division, giving the Japanese their first Olympic title in the sport in 24 years.