CUP Alum Abdurakhmonov Wins Olympic Bronze in Freestyle Wrestling in Toyko

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — In 2016, Clarion University alum Bekzod Abdurakhmonov fell just short of a freestyle wrestling medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for his home country, Uzbekistan.

It was a long, five-year wait for Abdurakhmonov to get another shot.

Friday it came.

Abdurakhmonov dominated Kazakhstan’s Daniyar Kaisanov in the 74kg bronze medal match in Tokyo, winning 13-2.

A 2012 Clarion University graduate with a degree in sports management, Abdurakhmonov came very close to a bronze medal in 2016.

The highlight of his Olympics in Rio was an 11-1 win over former gold medalist Jordan Burroughs of the United States. Abdurakhmonov, though, fell in the bronze medal match in Rio to Jabrayil Hasanov of Azerbaijan, losing by just two points, 9-7.

“It stinks to come that close and miss it by so little,” Abdurakhmonov told ESPN in an interview in 2018.

He all but gave up on another quest for the Olympics and instead refocused on his burgeoning MMA career. It was a promising 7-0 start for Abdurakhmonov, but in the same ESPN interview in 2018, he said fighting just wasn’t for him.

He wanted to go back to his roots. He wanted to wrestle.

“I trained for a few months and there was a lot of money in it,” he told ESPN, “but I decided that isn’t the priority for me.”

He immersed himself into training again for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. But when they were delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Abdurakhmonov, 31, had to patiently wait again for another chance at an Olympic medal.

When he finally arrived in Tokyo a few weeks ago, he was on a mission.

He began his Olympics with a dominating 10-0 victory. But in his second match, he lost 13-6 to Zaurbek Sidakov of the Russian Federation.

Sidakov went on to win the gold medal at 74kg Friday.

Meanwhile, Abdurakhmonov battled back with another 10-0 win and then the big triumph for a bronze medal.

Abdurakhmonov spent two years at Clarion University and made an immediate impact on the wrestling program.

During his senior year, he went 36-5 at 165 pounds, won the Eastern Wrestling League and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships, and was 5-1 at the NCAA Division I Nationals to place third.

Abdurakhmonov was 74-17 in his career with two PSAC titles.

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