Sanderson to Olympic Semis

<b>ATHENS --</b> Former Iowa State undefeated (159-0) NCAA champion and 2003 world freestyle champion runner-up Cael Sanderson scored a takedown with an ankle pick move at 6:14 of overtime Friday, to defeat Iranian Majid Khodael, 6-5 and advance to the semifinals of the 84kg (185-pound) weight class in the Olympic Games.

The win advances Sanderson to a match against Yoel Romero of Cuba. That match will start at 1:30 a.m. Iowa Time Saturday. Sanderson's next match after that would be at around 11 a.m. Iowa time Saturday. A win over Romero would put Sanderson in the gold medal match.

"Cael wrestled a great match against Khodael," said Iowa State and Olympic coach Bobby Douglas. "Cael used his superior conditioning to win. He is climbing the mountain."

In the other semifinal, Sazhid Sazhidov of Russia will take on Moon Eiv-Jae of Korea.

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Sanderson won the World silver medal in 2003, his first time at the World Championships. He was not able to wrestle in the 2001 and 2002 World meets, which he qualified for. In 2001, the Sept. 11 attack moved the World Championships into his college season. In 2002, Sanderson and all of his teammates missed the World meet in Iran due to threats of violence. Internationally, he has past losses to Sajidov and Romero. Put on the lights, and Sanderson is a winner, proven in his undefeated college career and in his only World appearance. Sanderson relies on speed and great offensive techniques from the feet.

Romero was a 1999 World champion, and lost to (a different Russian) in the finals of the 2000 Olympics and 2002 World Championships. Romero also won a bronze at the 2001 World meet. Before Sanderson came along, he had a big rivalry with U.S. star Les Gutches, a 1997 World Champion. Romero was just sixth at the 2003 World meet in New York. He is an amazing athlete, with strength and power, and seems to be ready when the big meets come around.

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