Batirov Wins in New Weight Class

APBatirov standing during his gold-medal match with Fedoryshyn on Tuesday.
BEIJING -- Mavlet Batirov of Russia repeated as an Olympic champion by moving up a weight class to win the 60-kilogram freestyle wrestling gold medal, defeating Vasyl Fedoryshyn of Ukraine on Tuesday.

Batirov, last year's world champion, won both periods in the best-of-three match, 1-0 on a clinch in overtime in the first period and 2-1 in the second. Fedoryshyn was fourth at the Athens Olympics, when Batirov won at 55 kilograms.

"I felt better in the 60 kilograms here," Batirov said. "It felt easier."

Batirov is Russia's fourth wrestling gold medalist in Beijing, joining three Greco-Roman winners. Last year, Russia won six of seven weight classes in the freestyle world championships, though it must win the remaining five weights in Beijing to match that.

"Russia's wrestlers are very strong," Batirov said. "We will win more golds in Beijing."

Russia let one slip away Tuesday as 55-kilogram favorite Besik Kudukhov was upset in the semifinals, allowing Henry Cejudo to win the United States' first wrestling gold in Beijing.

The 60-kilogram bronzes were won by Seyedmorad Mohammadi of Iran and Kenichi Yumoto of Japan. Mohammadi's medal was Iran's first in Beijing.

"It is so hard to win, so I am very proud," Mohammadi said.

Alexander Karelin was in the middle of Batirov's cheering section, wearing one of the bright red and white T-shirts given all the team members.

Maybe Karelin was cheering for Batirov, 24, to go for a third consecutive gold in London in 2012. Batirov promised more Russian medals, but he wouldn't promise that he'll try for another himself.

"I may end my career," he said. "I'm not sure [about London]."

Even if doesn't keep his career going -- he'd be 28 in those Olympics, a peak age for wrestlers -- there's no doubt Russia will plug an excellent athlete in his place. Kudukhov is already hinting he may move up.

"I'm very disappointed," said Fedoryshyn, who will try for London. "But I didn't expect to have such a strong opponent."

Every opponent in every freestyle weight class in Beijing had better expect one from Russia. Among those to come: two-time Olympic champion Buvaysa Saitiev, who goes for his third gold at 74 kilograms on Wednesday.

Batirov didn't win any of his four matches by big margins, starting with a 1-0, 1-1, 4-0 win over Yandro Quintana of Cuba, the winner in Athens. Batirov then defeated Muzad Ramazanov of Macedonia 1-0, 2-0 and Seyedmorad Mohammadi of Iran 1-0, 1-0.

A lot of scoring isn't needed when a wrestler is as technically proficient and defensively sound as Batirov, who gave up only two points in four matches.

"I think it is very complicated," said Fedoryshyn, who scored one of those two points. "I don't know what happened in my match. I just did what I could do. I came here for the gold but I was defeated, but I have nothing to complain about."