LONDON — Jake Varner, a graduate of Bakersfield High School who now trains under U.S. wrestling great Cael Sanderson at the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club in State College, Pa., won an Olympic gold medal Sunday at the ExCel Center. He beat Valeri Andriitsev of Ukraine.
Varner, 26, had advanced to the gold-medal match by coming from behind in the 211.5-pound class of freestyle wrestling to beat 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Giorgi Gogshelidze of Georgia in the semifinals.
It was expected that 2011 world champion Rez Yazdani of Iran would be in the finals, but Yazdani had to be taken off the mat during his semifinal because of a leg injury against Andriitsev and was unable to continue.
Varner had been beaten by Yazdani at a World Cup meet in May. He'd never wrestled Andriitsev, who was second in the European Championships this year and is a former junior world champion.