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Americans Angle, Cross Capture Wrestling Golds

By Athelia Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, Aug. 1, 1996; Page D01

ATLANTA, July 31U.S. wrestlers Kendall Cross and Kurt Angle won Olympic gold medals and teammate Townsend Saunders earned a silver medal in freestyle wrestling tonight.

Cross, of Raleigh, N.C., defeated Giuvi Sissaouri of Canada, 5-3, on a three-point throw and a two-point tilt to win in the 57 kg (125.5 pounds) weight class. Yong Sam Ri of North Korea defeated Harun Dogan of Turkey for the bronze medal in the 125.5 pound division.

Cross, who finished sixth at the 1992 Olympics in the same weight division, said that the gold medal win "was very comforting. The process has come to an end. I chased a dream and . . . it came out golden."

Pittsburgh's Angle, the 1995 world champion, defeated Abbas Jadidi of Iran on a controversial officials' decision in the 100 kg (220 pounds) division. After the match, Angle, the only member of the U.S. Olympic team who wrestles for the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club, dropped to his knees in prayer on the mat.

Meanwhile Jadidi, who thought he had won and had even raised his arm in victory before the decision was announced, got on his knees in front of officials seated at a table near the mat to appeal Angle's victory. During the medal ceremony, Jadidi was still protesting the ruling even as the silver medal was draped around his neck.

Arawat Sabejew of Germany earned the bronze medal in the 100 kg class.

Saunders, of Phoenix, lost a close match to Vadim Bogiyev of Russia on a 1-1 referee's decision in the 68 kg (149.5 pounds) weight class. Zaza Zazirov of Ukraine won the bronze medal.

Saunders and Angle were tied 1-1 with their opponents when their matches ended, so the decision in each match was left up to the referee.

In Saunders's case, the referee declared Bogiyev the winner because Saunders had been called three times for passivity, while Bogiyev had two calls for passivity.

"I wanted the gold real bad," said Saunders, who had defeated the 1995 world champion, Arayik Gevorgyan of Armenia, in the semifinals earlier today to advance to the gold medal round. "I'm a little disappointed. He [Bogiyev] is a real good wrestler. He deserves it."

In Angle's match, the score was tied at 1 and the two wrestlers were equal in passivity. So the three officials then made the decision, giving the victory to Angle, the 1995 world champion.

Angle said he was more aggressive than Jadidi was throughout the match, which included a three-minute overtime period.

"It was up to the officials," he said. "I think the last shot really helped me. . . . I'm the proudest man in the world. If I died today, I would be a happy man."

Perhaps the loudest cheers from the capacity crowd of 7,284 were for Angle, thanks in part to his affiliation with the Schultz club. The club is named in honor of Angle's deceased friend and teammate, Dave Schultz, who was killed Jan. 26 outside of his home on a Newton Square, Pa., estate where he was training for the Olympics with Team Foxcatcher. The estate owner and team sponsor, John E. du Pont, has been charged with Schultz's murder and is in jail while he awaits trial.

Angle wrestled with Schultz on Team Foxcatcher, but after Schultz's death, Angle and other teammates left Foxcatcher and formed the Schultz club. Schultz's widow, Nancy, helps to run the club. She was here tonight with her two children, Danielle and Alexander, to cheer on Angle and the other U.S. wrestlers, all of whom are wearing black bands on the left strap of their uniforms in memory of Schultz.

Angle said that he was thinking about Schultz when he stood on the victory stand. "Dave had a big impact on my life. Now I know what he felt when he won" the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, Angle said. "He was my idol."

Meanwhile, Jadidi said that he felt like he won the match by a score of 3-1. "I was upset because they took what was mime," Jadidi said of the officials' decision. "I respect him [Angle] as a human being, but I don't respect him as an Olympic champion. The gold medal that he has hanging on his neck is mine and I feel they took that from me."

In the 48 kg (105.5 pounds) class, Il Kim of North Korea defeated Armen Mkrchyan of Armenia to win the gold medal. Alexis Vila Perdomo of Cuba earned the bronze medal. U.S. wrestler Rob Eiter, of Clarion, Pa., placed eighth.

In 82 kg (180.5 pounds division), Khadzhimurad Magomedov of Russia won the gold medal over Hyun Mo Yang of South Korea. Amir Reza Khadem Azghadi of Iran earned the bronze medal. U.S. wrestler Les Gutches, of Corvallis, Ore., placed seventh. At the 1992 Games in Barcelona, the U.S. freestyle wrestling team took home a total of six medals, including three gold medals.

The second half of freestyle wrestling competition in five other weight divisions, including the heavyweight class that features two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Bruce Baumgartner, will take place on Thursday and Friday.

© 1996 The Washington Post Company

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