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Greco-Roman Team Set to Take World Stage: Americans Come In As Underdogs



Sydney, Australia - If you survey the media or insiders around these Olympics, they are all projecting that the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman Team will fail to win a medal when competition begins September 24 at The Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour. This fact provides motivational fodder to Team USA as it quests to once again show it can compete internationally in an Olympic Greco-Roman tournament filled with depth at every weight division. In 1996, the U.S. Olympic Team surprised all by capturing three silver medals, a feat it will attempt to repeat to better here at the Sydney Games. All three medalists from the Atlanta Games, Matt Ghaffari, Brandon Paulson and Dennis Hall were defeated at this year's Olympic Trials in Dallas. Rulon Gardner (Afton, Wyo.) defeated Matt Ghaffari and Jim Gruenwald (Milwaukee, Wis.) defeated Dennis Hall, winning two out of three matches while Steven Mays (Pensacola, Fl.) had defeated Brandon Paulson in two in a row for the right to represent the U.S. Down Under. After the Dallas Trials and through the Pre-Olympic Training Camp in Colorado Springs, coaches have been swooning over the overall teams depth for the Sydney Games. "Everyone on this team is entering the Games thinking they can win a medal" said national Teams Coach Steve Fraser, he himself one of only two Americans to ever win an Olympic Gold Medal (along with Jeff Blatnick). "We look to surprise. Our preparation has gone well." U.S. Greco-Roman Development Coach Ike Anderson said today: "A few guys have looked extremely well during the final preparation camp in Canberra, Australia. Quincy Clark, Jim Gruenwald and the big guy, Rulon Gardner, have all looked real good. That is not to say the whole team (hasn't stepped it up). " The Greco-Roman Team arrived a few days ago in Sydney from their training camp in Canberra, three hours southwest of Sydney. The entire Greco-Roman Team are first time Olympians. That doesn't phase veterans of the world circuit like Kevin Bracken, who has competed in major tournaments in Cuba, France, Russia, and Sweden in preparation for the Olympics. "I lost to the former World Champion (Nicoloi Monov) of Russia 4-3 in a controversial loss a the Poddoubny Tournament in Russia last month and I've beaten him 7-6, so, yeah, I think I can win a Gold Medal. I feel my preparation has been very good. Conditioning wise, I feel I am in better shape that anyone else in the world at my weight division. I always have that in the back of my mind." Veteran Matt Lindland perhaps has the most International experience of the remainder of the team, which includes Steven Mays, Heath Simms, and young upstart Garrett Lowney. " I think I have the potential to defeat anyone in the world." said Lowney, unfazed at walking onto the world's biggest sporting stage this week. "The International Tournament in Russia (Poddoubny) proved one thing ---- everyone is beatable. I just can't make any mistakes. But I am ready for a good fight." that type of confidence has been prevalent among the Greco-Roman Team as they enter the Sydney Games, which can only assist the U.S. performance beginning Sunday at The Exhibition Centre. As one team insider said: " This is a team of unknown's. Anything can happen. They are a bit inexperienced but aggressive and confident. Any one of these guys could medal." Tournament Schedule: - September 24, Session 1 = 54kg, 63kg, 76kg, 97kg preliminaries, pool elimination - September 24, Session 2 = 54kg, 63kg, 76kg, 97kg preliminaries, pool elimination - September 25, Session 3 = 54kg, 63kg, 76kg, 97kg Quarter-finals, 58kg, 69kg, 85kg, 130kg preliminaries, pool elimination - September 25, Session 4 = 54kg, 63kg, 76kg, 97kg Semi-finals, 58kg, 69kg, 85kg, 130kg preliminaries, pool elimination - September 26, Session 5 = 54kg, 63kg, 76kg, 97kg Finals, 58kg, 69kg, 85kg, 130kg preliminaries, pool elimination - September 26, Session 6 = 54kg, 63kg, 76kg, 97kg Bronze & Gold Medal Matches - September 27, Session 7 = 58kg, 69kg, 85kg, 130kg Quarter & Semi Finals - September 27, Session 8 = 58kg, 69kg, 85kg, 130kg Bronze & Gold Medal Matches
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