Sanderson an Olympic Champion

<b>ATHENS, Greece --</b> Cael Sanderson is an Olympic Champion! The former Iowa State four-time undefeated NCAA champion beat Korean Moon Eiu-Jae, 3-1 to win the Gold Medal in the 84kg (185-pound) in the freestyle wrestling finals Saturday evening. He will return to Iowa next week after spending a few days with family in Greece. Iowa State head coach and head Olympic coach Bobby Douglas will return to Iowa Monday night.

"I'm happy," Sanderson said. "It's been a long road. It's a tough tournament and I'm glad to be here. It's just a great experience. I had fun even when I was behind in my matches."

Again, Sanderson came from behind to win. Down 1-0 in the Gold Medal match, Sanderson scored on a two-point exposure move at the 4:23 mark of his match and sealed the victory with a takedown at the 5:05 mark.

"He (Moon) was real strong and real smart, and he was wrestling a really good match," Sanderson said. "I knew I had to get something going or it was going to slip away."

Sanderson was the aggressor throughout the match. His two-point move was reviewed by the officials to ensure the proper awarding of points.

"You never know what you're going to get, especially in a situation like that," Sanderson said, "so to get two points out of that was big."

Known for his calm demeanor on and off the mat, Sanderson left the celebration to the coaching staff. "(National team Coach and former ISU All-American Kevin) Jackson and (U.S. Olympic head coach and Iowa State head) Coach (Bobby) Douglas are such great coaches," said Sanderson. "You want to win for them so bad. To see them excited and happy like that -- it's an undescribable feeling."

Asked what his plans are now that he's won the gold, Sanderson replied, "I'm just going to relax, and spend some time with my wife and dogs. I'm planning to stay at Iowa State and help with the wrestling program. But other than that, I'm just enjoying life right now."

Sanderson is the fifth Iowa State wrestler to win an Olympic Gold Medal, the first since Jackson at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Douglas was in Sanderson's corner for the match, just as he was for Jackson in Barcelona.

Sanderson reached the gold medal match by defeating Cuba's Yoel Romero, 3-2, in the semifinals. It was his first career win over Romero.

Iowa State's Olympic Medal Winners (Wrestling)

1948 (London): Glen Brand – Gold
1972 (Munich): Dan Gable – Gold
1972 (Munich): Ben Peterson – Gold
1972 (Munich): Chris Taylor - Bronze (Greco-Roman)
1976 (Montreal): Ben Peterson – Silver
1988 (Seoul): Nate Carr – Bronze
1992 (Barcelona): Kevin Jackson – Gold
2004 (Athens): Cael Sanderson - Gold


by Gary Abbott/USA Wrestling

Cael Sanderson (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) won the gold medal at 84 kg/185 lbs in men's freestyle wrestling at the Ano Liossia Olympic Hall in Athens, Greece, Saturday, August 28.

Claiming a silver medal after losses in the finals were Stephen Abas (Fresno, Calif. /Sunkist Kids) at 55 kg/121 lbs. and Jamill Kelly (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Sanderson, a 2003 World silver medalist, defeated 2000 Olympic silver medalist Moon Eui Jae of Korea in the finals by a 3-1 margin.

There was no scoring in the first period, although Sanderson pressed the action and Moon was hit with two passivity calls. In the clinch to start the second period, Sanderson released his lock in the first seven seconds, giving a point to Moon and trailed 1-0. With a minute and a half left in the period, Sanderson hit a leg attack for a takedown in which there was a scramble situation. Officials reviewed the videotape and awarded Sanderson two points, indicating that he achieved exposure during the action. With 54 seconds left in the match, Sanderson completed a leg attack takedown for a 3-0 lead, which held until time ran out.

Sanderson becomes the first U.S. wrestler to win a gold medal in wrestling during the Athens Olympic Games. The United States has now won six medals (one gold, three silvers, two bronzes). This includes three in men's freestyle, two in women's freestyle and one in men's Greco-Roman. There is one day of competition remaining in wrestling, and the U.S. has a chance to add to this medal count on Sunday.

Sanderson defined perfection in college, going 159-0 and winning four NCAA titles at Iowa State, then winning a World silver medal in 2003 in freestyle wrestling. He is originally from Heber City, Utah.

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