Feb. 2, 2004
BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA –
The United States sent two wrestlers to Slovakia hoping to qualify the final two men’s freestyle weight classes for the 2004 Olympic Games. Early Sunday morning, Chris Bono (Gilbert, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) and Joe Williams (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) were able to accomplish that goal with thrilling quarterfinal wins at the first Olympic qualifier.
“We are pleased with this performance,” stated USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson. “We came here to get a job done – qualify our final two weight classes for the Olympics. We did that. Now we can go home and begin preparations for Nationals, Trials and the Olympics.”
“We had a lot of help from your support staff, Dr. Robert Heinz, Jamill Kelly and Ramico Blackmon. We want to thank them for their help,” Jackson added.
At 74 kg/163 lbs., Williams won the gold medal with a 3-0 win over 2003 Pan American Championships gold medalist Ivan Fundora of Cuba.
Williams, a 2001 World bronze medalist, posted a thrilling 4-3 quarterfinal win over Krystian Brzozowski of Poland before defeating Armenia’s Arayik Gevorgyan 9-4 in the semifinals.
Against Brzozowski, Williams fell behind 3-0 on points scored off of Williams’ throw attempt. Williams fired back with four second-period points to earn the win and qualify the United States for the 2004 Olympic Games at his weight class.
“I am glad I qualified the weight class. Now I can focus on making the Olympic team and realizing my lifelong dream,” Williams said.
In order to qualify the weight class for the 2004 Olympic Games, wrestlers must place in the top five at their respective weight class.
Wrestlers qualifying for the Olympic Games only qualify their weight class for their nation. Olympic Team athlete selection varies by country. Positions on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Teams will be determined at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Wrestling in Indianapolis, Ind., May 21-23.
Men’s Freestyle Olympic Qualification Tournament
at Bratislava, Slovakia
Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2004
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Chris Bono, Gilbert, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Sergei Demtchenko (Belarus), 4-1
WIN Ahto Raska (Estonia), 5-3
WIN Ali Reza Dabir (Iran), 2-2, ot, 9:00
LOSS Leonid Spiridonov (Kazakhstan), 6-2
WIN Jin-Kuk Baek (Korea), by inj. default
74 kg/163 lbs. – Joe Williams, Iowa City, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Habib Mohmed (Qatar), 3-2
WIN Eugen Preda (Romania), 5-0
WIN Krystian Brzozowski (Poland), 4-3
WIN Arayik Gevorgyan (Armenia), 9-4
WIN Ivan Fundora (Cuba), 3-0
By John Fuller, USA Wrestling