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Yazdani vs. Danko is the new “Bout of the Week” on USA Wrestling Audio/Video website



USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .

The featured match this week is the 2006 Reza Yazdani vs. Taras Danko bronze medal match at 84 kg/185 lbs. in men's freestyle at the World Wrestling Championships in Guangzhou, China.

Winning a World medal for the first time is a very memorable experience for an international wrestler. In many cases, it takes an athlete many years on the Senior international scene before that first medal has been captured. Once a wrestler breaks through for a World medal, the task at hand is winning one again, and hopefully winning many more. Taras Danko of Ukraine, who won his first World medal in 2005, faced Reza Yazdani of Iran, who was competing in his first World meet in 2006 for a bronze medal at the 2006 World Championships in China. The result of this match would either give Danko his second straight World medal or allow Yazdani to become a first-time medalist.

By the 2006 World Championships, Danko had certainly paid his dues on the international level, first on the age-group levels, then on the Senior level. Between 1996 and 2000, Danko represented Ukraine on the Cadet and Junior levels at eight major events, including the European Championships and World Championships. Five of those times Danko brought home a medal. He was a 1996 Cadet World bronze medalist, a 1999 Junior World silver medalist and a 2000 Junior World bronze medalist.

Danko's first major Senior competition came in 2000, when he placed fifth at the World Cup. At the time, Ukraine had a deep field of 84 kg wrestlers within its program. During the 2001-04 Olympic cycle, Ukraine tried three different athletes at this weight class, with none of them winning a medal: David Bichinashvili, Eldar Assanov and Alik Musaev. When the 2004 Olympic Games came along, Ukraine brought Danko to compete in Athens, where he finished seventh in his weight class.

Danko's big Senior-level breakthrough came in 2005, when he started the season with a gold-medal performance at the European Championships, then followed that up with a bronze medal at the 2005 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Danko's only loss in the World meet came to former World champion Yoel Romero of Cuba in the semifinals. He beat Radoslav Horbik of Poland to capture that first World bronze medal. He reached this milestone at the age of 25.

Over in Iran, Reza Yazdani is only a recent addition to their international teams. His only major age-group appearance came in 2004 at the Asian Junior Championships, where he won a bronze medal. In 2005, Iran entered Feridon Ghanbaripisar at the World Championships, who placed 14th in the World meet.

Yazdani got his chance on the Senior level in 2006, winning a bronze medal at the World Cup. His big breakthrough later that season was a gold medal at the FILA Final Golden Grand Prix held in Uzbekistan. Although he was only 22 years old, Yazdani was Iran's choice for the 2006 World Championships in Guangzhou, China.

Danko's road to another World medal match included three straight wins over Sayed Naeinian of Australia, Samatbek Tolubaev of Kyrgysztan and Serhat Balci of Turkey. In the semifinals, Danko was defeated by 2003 World champion Sajid Sajidov of Russia, which placed him into the bronze-medal round.

Yazdani was on the same side at Danko of the draw, and won his first match over Coenraad DeVilliers of South Africa. In the second round, he lost to Sajidov. When Sajidov beat Danko to make the finals, it drew Yazdani back into the wrestlebacks. Yazdani came back strong, beating Travis Cross of Canada and Radoslaw Horbik of Poland to reach the bronze-medal showdown with Danko.

The bronze medal went to Yazdani, the younger and less experienced wrestler, while Danko ended up fifth, missing out on a second World medal. Since then, Yazdani won a gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games, another indication that he is one of the top young wrestlers, not only in Iran but also in the world.

This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history. Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page was the 2006 Mavlet Batirov vs. Yogeshwar Dutt bronze medal match at 55 kg/121 lbs. in men's freestyle at the World Wrestling Championships in Guangzhou, China. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.
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