Brands Goes Gold, Baumgartner Gets Revenge
Aug. 02, 1996
ATLANTA (AP) _ Tom Brands got the Olympic championship his brother was favored to win. Bruce Baumgartner got revenge and a record _ but not the gold.
With his world champion twin cheering him on, Brands fulfilled the promise he made to himself as an undersized fifth grader by winning an Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medal Friday.
Brands beat surprise finalist Jang Jae-sung of South Korea 7-0 at 136 1/2 pounds, becoming the third U.S. wrestler to go golden in these games.
``This is it. This is the pinnacle,'' said Brands, a 1993 world champion who slipped to ninth place last year. ``This is what I've worked for my whole life.
But the biggest favorite, Baumgartner, settled for the bronze at 286 pounds _ his record fourth Olympic wrestling medal.
Baumgartner avenged Thursday's 6-1 loss to Russian Andrei Shumilin with a judges' decision assured only by his one-point takedown with 16 seconds remaining in the eight-minute match. Shumilin led 1-0 at the time, but had been warned for passivity, the first tie-breaking criteria
``This is huge. This is big,'' U.S. national coach Bruce Burnett said. ``Maybe Bruce didn't get the gold, but he got a medal, and nobody's ever won 13 medals before in world championships.''
Unlike other U.S. gold medalists Kurt Angle and Kendall Cross, Brands didn't cry on the victory stand. Maybe he blew out his emotion after brother Terry, a two-time world champion, was upset by Cross at 125 1/2 pounds in the U.S. trials.
``Terry was here for me, and that means a lot,'' said Brands, who wrote in his school notebook 15 years ago that he would win the Olympics. ``He told me this was the moment I'd waited for my entire life.''
The Brands brothers grew up in Iowa, perhaps the only state where wrestling doesn't take a backseat to basketball. They toughened each other by throwing themselves around on the living room carpet _ and, once, even through a wall.
They were combative and intense, and, as Tom said, ``The Brands brothers aren't the most popular people in the world.'' Their motto at the University of Iowa was ``Intense Legal Pain.''
But as much as their rivalry often divided them _ they still live on opposite sides of Iowa City _ it also strengthened them into two of the world's best wrestlers.
``It wasn't always a love-love relationship. But he'd go to the grave for me and I'd go for him, and not even your best friend will do that,'' Tom Brands said. ``I know it hurts him like heck not to make the Olympics, but he's a man and he'll get over it.''
Iowa coach Dan Gable, a former Olympic champion, was the first man to hug Brands as he stepped off the mat. The two practiced together for weeks before the Olympics, working on Brands' technique and drawing up game plans for possible opponents.
``He had me so prepared,'' said the 5-foot-5 Brands, whose toughness shielded him from any childhood teasing about his size. ``Just because of him, you can't help but think about winning an Olympic gold medal if you're a wrestler in Iowa.''
Brands was criticized for accepting money from Team Foxcatcher even after sponsor John E. du Pont was charged with murdering former Olympic champion Dave Schultz. But Brands cut his ties to the club last month.
``Could I have won this without his support? I could have won this if I'd been in the gutter,'' Brands said. ``That's how bad I wanted it. I didn't have any contact with Mr. du Pont. Nobody said anything until the media made a big stink about it.''
Also Friday, seven-time world champion Valentin Jordanov beat Azerbaijan's Namik Abdullaev 4-3 in overtime at 114 1/2 pounds for his first Olympic gold.
Abdullaev sat stubbornly on the mat for nearly a minute to protest the decisive takedown point, and his coach shoved Jordanov.
Russia's Makharbek Khadartsev was denied his third consecutive gold medal at 198 pounds, losing 3-0 to world champion Rasul Khadem of Iran.
Baumgartner's 13th world championship medal broke the record he shared with Russia's Alexander Medved. Thanks to Khadartsev's loss, Medved remains the only three-time Olympic wrestling champion.
Americans Melvin Douglas and Kenny Monday, a two-time Olympic medalist, failed to win a medal. Monday was attempting a comeback after a long layoff.