Goodwill Games: Russians wrestle way back: Hosts wrest golds from arch rivals

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The Independent Online
RUSSIA collected six of the 10 gold medals at the three-day wrestling event in St Petersburg to mark their return as a world force in the sport, with the United States only winning two. Bruce Baumgartner can attest to their resurrection. The twice world and Olympic champion had to settle for a bronze medal yesterday.

'It's the best I've seen the Russians wrestle in a couple of years,' Baumgartner said. 'I hope that they've peaked for this and we're still peaking for next month's World Championships. I know that's what the coaches had in mind.'

Baumgartner lost his first-round match to Russia's Andre Shumilin 1-0 after five regulation minutes and a three-minute overtime. It was Shumilin, the world bronze medallist, who last beat Baumgartner in March, 1993, at the World Cup.

'I've beaten him before, it's just that he's the last guy to beat me - two times,' said the American, who beat Nadar Ghanbari, of Iran, 12-1 to win a bronze medal.

The two United States golds went to a pair of Arizona neighbours, Zeke Jones and Townsend Saunders. 'Townsend and I live about five miles apart on Ray Road in Phoenix,' said Jones, who won at 52 kilos (114.5 pounds) in a 11-0 decision over Janali Khosrow of Iran yesterday. Saunders' win came on Saturday at 68 kilos (149.5 pounds).

Yesterday's other two gold medals went to Turkey's Ismail Zurnaci in an upset, pinning Russia Bagaudin Umachanov in 2:25 at 57 kilos (125.5 pounds). In Baumgartner's 130-kilo (286-pound) division, the Georgian Zaza Turmanidze beat Shumilin 1-0 in overtime.

The Americans finished with eight medals - two gold, three silver and three bronze. The Russians added three silver medals to their six gold, showing their best wrestling since the break-up of the Soviet Union three years ago. They will be favourites to dethrone the United States at the World Championships later this month in Istanbul.