Williams wins bronze medal at World Championships

Joe Williams (Ames, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) won a bronze medal at 74 kg/163 lbs. in freestyle wrestling at the World Championships of Wrestling in Budapest, Hungary, September 27.

Williams defeated  Alexandru Burca of Muldova, 3-0, 0-3, 3-1 in the bronze medal match. It was the second World bronze medal of Williams career, to go along with a bronze medal at the 2001 World Championships.


Williams scored a three-point double leg takedown in the first period to win that period, 3-0. In the second period, Burca had a takedown and a two-point gutwrench for a 3-0 period victory, and to tie the bout at one period each. In the deciding third period, a three-point double leg takedown by Williams gave him the margin of victory. Burca's takedown with 30 seconds left was not enough, with the period ending at 3-1.


Williams' goal of winning the gold medal was haulted in the semifinals, when he lost a 1-0, 1-0 decision to hometown favorite Arpad Ritter of Hungary. The partisan crowd was loud in support of the local hero.


In the first period, Ritter scored a one-point takedown for a 1-0 win. In the second period, with less than a minute left in the period, a scramble occurred on the edge of the mat. After reviewing the video tape, officials decided that Williams stepped out first, and Ritter was awarded the point, the only point of the tournament.


Williams qualified for the semifinals in his first match of the night session, with a 0-1, 1-0, 1-0 win over Soslan Tigiev of Uzbekistan. Tigiev won the first period by scoring a takedown on the leg clinch after the first period ended at 0-0. Williams rebounded by scoring a takedown in the second period for a 1-0 win. In the final period, no athlete scored a takedown and it went to another leg clinch. Tigiev won the flip and secured the leg hold. However, in the 30-second overtime, Tigiev could not score, giving the defensive wrestler Williams the one point and the victory.


The other two wrestlers for the U.S. were unable to wrestle back after they lost a match: Mo Lawal (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 84 kg/185 lbs. and Daniel Cormier (Stillwater, Okla./Gator WC) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.


Lawal ended up placing seventh in his weight class. Cormier missed on placing in the top 10 by one placement, and did not score any team points for the United States.


Lawal qualified for the quarterfinals with two wins on Tuesday morning. He was defeated by 2003 World Champion and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Sazhid Sazhidov of Russia, 1-0, 0-1, 1-1 in a controversial quarterfinal bout in the quarterfinals at the beginning of the evening session.


Sazhidov won the first period on a takedown, 1-0. In the second period, Lawal rebounded for a 1-0 win, when Sazhidov stepped out of bounds during an exchange.


In the deciding third period, Lawal scored the only takedown of the period with a single leg with 45 seconds to go. However, when Sazhidov pressed the action late in the match, officials penalized Lawal with one second left on the clock with a caution for fleeing the match. The one-point penalty made the score 1-1, and Sazhidov won the period for scoring the last point.


When Sazhidov lost in the semifinals in an upset to Revaz Mindorashvili of Georgia, Lawal was unable to advance into the wrestleback rounds. Only athletes who lose to a gold-medal finalist are able to compete in the wrestlebacks for the bronze medal under the new rules of international wrestling.


Cormier lost his match on Tuesday morning, but still had a chance to advance if the athlete who beat him, Aleksei Krupnykov of Kyrgyzstan, made the gold-medal finals. However, Krupnykov was defeated in the semifinals, thus eliminating Cormier from the competition.


Williams was the first U.S. wrestler to win a medal after two days of competition and six of the seven weight classes contested. There is one more freestyle wrestler in the competition for the U.S. on Wednesday, Tolly Thompson (Cedar Falls, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. The men's freestyle tournament ends Wednesday. In addition, the first two weight classes in women's freestyle wrestling begin on Wednesday.




74 kg/163 lbs. – Joe Williams, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)

"It was the kind of a situation, I didn't wrestle one match. I started late, got caught in a couple of situations and got scored on. I tried to finish on a positive note and listened to the coaches."


"Anytime you don't reach your goals, it is tough. You get the courage to go for the next best thing. A tournament like this, you wrestle for the best place possible. With the great coaches we have, it was easier to get up for the bronze medal match."


(about the future) "I need to take some time and re-evaluate a lot of things."


"All of our guys were prepared. A lot of people might look at this and say the freestyle team ought to do well. We came prepared. We wrestled against the best guys in the world. Here, one mistake will cost you the match. Our guys were in situations to win matches. Our coaches did there jobs, as did the athletes. We put together a great coaching staff."


 U.S. World Team Coach Joe Seay (after Lawal's match)

"We won the match. They didn't come close to scoring. We scored the only offensive attack. Mo  Lawal won the match. There is no doubth he won that match."


National Freestyle Coach Kevin Jackson (after Lawal's match)

"It is hard enough to score points without the refs giving away points. That was unbelievable."


National Coach Kevin Jackson (after Williams' loss in semifinals)

"We had two similar situations. The problem is I don't disagree with the way Joe Williams match was scored. Mo Lawal had a technical point and outwrestled him. Joe let the match go to the clinch. We can't allow it to go to the clinch and give away points. They replayed the point in the second period on video. They had a better view. I am pretty sure Joe stepped out on the edge."

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