LONDON -- On the last day of the Olympics, the USA's Jake Varner qualified for the gold medal match Sunday in the 211.5-pound class of freestyle wrestling. He won't face the reigning world champion from Iran that he anticipated meeting.
In the semifinals, Varner battled back to defeat 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Giorgi Gogshelidze of Georgia. In the Olympics, it's best-of-three periods. After losing the first period 2-0, Varner won the next two 1-0, 1-0.
Iran's Reza Yazdani was the 2011 world champion in the weight class. In his semifinal, which followed Varner's, Yazdani suffered a leg injury while wrestling against Valeri Andriitsev of Ukraine. Yazdani was unable to continue. He was taken off the arena floor in a wheelchair.
So Varner, beaten by Tazdani at the World Cup in May, will instead meet Andriitsev in the final. They have not faced one another previously. Varner was a world bronze medalist last year. Andriitsev was second in the European championships this year, and he is a former junior world champion.
Varner, 26, was a two-time NCAA champion at Iowa State. He trains with the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club at Penn State. Cael Sanderson, 2004 Olympic champion and now coach at Penn State, was in Varner's corner Sunday. Before Sanderson took the Penn State job, he coached Varner at Iowa State.
Jared Frayer, who represented the USA at 145.5 pounds Sunday, was eliminated from medal contention. He lost his opener to Ali Sharbano of Belarus and was eliminated from contention for bronze when Sharbano failed to reach the final.