SYDNEY, Australia — There was no arguing Matt Lindland's loss in his Greco-Roman gold-medal match.
"I was second to a Russian," Lindland said Tuesday after losing, 3-0, to Mourat Kardanov for the gold medal at 167 1/2 pounds. "That's not bad for an Olympics, but I wanted to be first."
The man who always finishes first--three-time Olympic champion Alexander Karelin of Russia--goes for a fourth gold medal today. For the second consecutive Olympics, an American stands in his way.
Rulon Gardner, of Afton, Wyo., so wore down Juri Yevseychyc of Israel that the final point in overtime today came on a fleeing-the-hold call that decided the 3-2 semifinal victory. Gardner trailed, 2-1, entering the three-minute overtime at 286 pounds.
"I've never burned out anybody that badly in my life," Gardner said. "I couldn't believe how easily he started folding."
Karelin, as usual, did not allow a point--he has yielded only one in 10 years--in beating Georgi Saldadze of the Ukraine, 4-0, in the quarterfinals and Dmitri Debelka of Bulgaria, 3-0, in the semifinals.
The 33-year-old Karelin is the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler ever, winning the past 13 world-level championships he has entered. He is so strong--he once carried a refrigerator up seven flights of stairs rather than ask for help--that opponents simply cannot create any leverage to put themselves in scoring position.
Gardner, 29, has wrestled Karelin only once, losing in overtime. The gold-medal match will be Karelin's third of the day and Gardner's second.