David Taylor defeats Hassan Yazdani to retain 86kg freestyle crown

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Olympic champion David Taylor successfully defended his 86kg freestyle crown by defeating his archrival Hassan Yazdani at its end in the World Wrestling Championship 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sunday (September 17).

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Taylor has won three of his last four 86kg freestyle world finals and both wrestlers have three world titles each. The duo have a vice-like grip on the weight class, combining to win every major title since 2017.

The ‘Magic Man’ led 5-3 before extending his lead to four with just over a minute remaining. The American then dealt the decisive blow by pinning the Iranian with just three seconds left.

Taylor had won four of her previous five fights, including a dramatic victory in the Tokyo 2020 final (in 2021).

Yazdani, who won 74kg gold at Rio 2016, successfully moved up to the 86kg category with world titles in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

“When you’re younger, you think you can do everything on your own: I’m good, I’m the best,” Taylor told Olympics.com after his latest victory in Belgrade.

“But as I’ve gotten older, it’s honestly not like that. It’s my team that surrounds me. I’m so grateful for them, my wife, my amazing support system, my daughters.

“My daughter just started playing soft-strike (wrestling) and she gave me her first medal saying, ‘Dad, I want you to watch this every day and I want you to be a champion.’ That is a priceless moment.

“I miss them a lot, but I also do it for them. I want them to be proud of their father, for having some heart and courage, something that in society you can’t do very often.


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