Jake Varner learned to wrestle in Bakersfield, Calif. From his father, Steve. From his cousin, Andy, who coached Jake to two California high school state championships and who still coaches at Bakersfield High.
“It’s in my blood,” said Varner, who now has something Steve and Andy don’t have.
An Olympic gold medal.
Varner, 26, tripped up Valerii Andriitsev of Ukraine, 1-0, 1-0, in Sunday’s 96-kilogram freestyle wrestling final at the Excel Centre on the final day of Olympic competition. For the first time since 1996 in Atlanta, the U.S. team won two gold medals in men’s wrestling. New Jersey’s Jordan Burroughs won Friday night.
And maybe not coincidentally, this is the first Olympics where medalists get an extra cash prize from a foundation called “Living the Dream Medal Fund,” that was established in 2009 and offers Olympic wrestling gold medalists $250,000.
Uganda picked up its first and only medal of the games when Stephen Kiprotich easily captured the Olympic marathon.
Kiprotich finished in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second, holding off the Kenyan duo of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang. Kirui finished 26 seconds behind Kiprotich, while Kipsang, the leader much of the race, faded late but held on for bronze just ahead of American Meb Keflezighi.
On an extremely warm afternoon, the marathoners wound their way through a scenic route packed with swarms of fans. Kiprotich had such a big lead near the finish that he grabbed a flag from the stands and wore it on his way to the finish.
Britain’s final gold of the games went to super heavyweight Anthony Joshua, who rallied from a late deficit to upset defending champ Roberto Cammarelle of Italy on a tiebreaker.
Joshua’s big finish in the tournament’s glamour division allowed him to match the titles won by bantamweight Luke Campbell and women’s flyweight Nicola Adams, part of Britain’s five-medal boxing haul that included Freddie Evans’ welterweight silver from Sunday.
Also winning divisions were: Ukrainian lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko, flyweight Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba, welterweight Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan and Russian light havyweight Egor Mekhontsev. Sapiyev was honored as the tournament’s best boxer.
Russia won its first men’s volleyball gold in 32 years by rallying past Brazil in five sets.
Second-ranked Russia dropped the first two sets and faced two match points before putting together an impressive comeback in a 19-25, 20-25, 29-27, 25-22, 15-9 victory, paced by 7-foot-2 middle blocker Dmitriy Muserskiy’s 31 points.
The Russians thought they had won it on Muserskiy’s kill in the fifth set and began to celebrate, but the officials awarded the point to top-ranked Brazil. After regrouping, Muserskiy came right back to spike match point.
It was Russia’s fourth gold medal in the event, most of any nation.
Italy won its fourth men’s volleyball medal in the last five Olympics by beating Bulgaria in four sets for the bronze.
The Russians won their fourth straight Olympic gold medal in the group event, easily beating Belarus. With Evgeniya Kanaeva winning the individual all-around Saturday, Russia has now won both rhythmic titles at every Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games.
The Russians didn’t even bother waiting for the final standings, exchanging hugs and blowing kisses at the camera before the score of Ukraine, the last team to perform, was announced.
Italy was third after appearing to make mistakes on both its routines.
The group event involves five gymnasts using two sets of apparatuses — five balls, and three ribbons and two hoops — in routines designed to showcase unison, flexibility and artistic skill.
World champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic won a two-man sprint to take the gold medal in the men’s mountain bike race.
Kulhavy made the most of a final steep ascent on the technical circuit in the English countryside to move ahead of Nino Schurter of Switzerland and then sprinted to the line.
Schurter won the silver medal and Marco Aurelio Fontana of Italy took bronze.
Kulhavy, whose sole objective this season was the Olympic gold, put his hands on his head as if he couldn’t believe he won. He then tied a Czech flag around his neck like a cape.