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2012 SUMMER OLYMPICS --- FINAL DAY ROUNDUP: Varner gives U.S. second gold in wrestling; Ugandan runner stuns field, wins marathon

Jake Varner of the United States celebrates after defeating Valerii Andriitsev of Ukraine, right, in gold medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Sunday,

Jake Varner of the United States celebrates after defeating Valerii Andriitsev of Ukraine, right, in gold medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Sunday,

LONDON — Cael Sanderson spent the past seven years teaching Jake Varner how to be a world champion — and he was there Sunday when Varner joined him as an Olympic gold medalist.

With Sanderson watching, Varner defeated Valerie Andriitsev of Ukraine 1-0, 1-0 to win gold in men's 96-kilogram freestyle.

Coupled with Jordan Burroughs' win in the 74 kilograms Friday night, it gave the American team multiple Olympic gold medalists in men's wrestling for the first time since 1996.

"Still not sure I'm in his league, but it's awesome to be coached by a guy like that," Varner said of Sanderson, a gold medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics. "I owe him a lot. It means a lot to have him with me."

Varner and Sanderson's relationship began in 2005 at Iowa State, where Sanderson coached before jumping to Penn State. The day after Varner graduated in 2010, he piled up the car and drove 15 hours to Pennsylvania to train full-time with Sanderson.

Sanderson said last week that Varner had pounded on him during training sessions leading up to the Olympics. Varner showed that good form by winning four straight matches for gold.

"He was going to get me to my ultimate goal, which was to win a gold medal at the Olympics — and that's what he did," Varner said.

Varner will also collect a $250,000 bonus from the Living the Dream fund, which supports American wrestling.

Sanderson said Varner was the same in the finals as in any other match.

"That's one of the reasons he's so good," Sanderson said. "He has great composure. That, in addition to just living the lifestyle for a long time. He's the man."

Throughout the Olympic tournament, the U.S. wrestlers received unfavorable draws in their unseeded brackets. They finally got lucky with Varner.

Most of the top medal contenders were on the other side of the bracket, and Varner opened with a three-period win over Kurban Kurbanov of Uzbekistan and a decisive victory over Canadian Khetag Pliev.

George Gogshelidze of Georgia beat Varner in the first period of the semifinals, and Varner appeared to be in serious trouble when the second period stayed scoreless after two minutes.

But the ball draw that decided who would be on offense for the period tiebreaker went Varner's way. Varner took advantage of his good fortune with a takedown to force a third period in just one second.

Varner then scored on a pushout to advance to the finals, where he he turned a potential deficit near the edge of the mat into the winning point.

Andriitsev was the underdog against Iranian world champion Reza Yazdani in the other semifinal, but Yazdani hurt his leg just 28 seconds into the first period.

Yazdani got off the mat in obvious pain, but he waved off the stretcher, to the delight of the large Iranian section of the crowd. He clearly wasn't OK, though, and the match was called because of injury after 77 seconds.

Yazdani was the favorite. But it was apparent from the opening match that Varner was going to have a major say in who won gold.

Varner fell to his knees once the clock ticked down to zero, soaking in the fact that he'd just accomplished the biggest goal of his life. He soon found Sanderson, embracing the friend who helped make it all possible with a leaping bear hug.

"Jake watched Cael win a gold medal as a kid. Came to Iowa State because he had that same goal. When they were there, Cael mentored him, coached him and became his friend," U.S. freestyle coach Zeke Jones said.

"From that moment, they had a dream together that said, 'I want to be the best in the world. I want to be the best in the world. And Jake did — and Cael got to be a part of that."

Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu of Japan also won wrestling gold Sunday in men's 66-kilogram freestyle, beating Sushil Kumar of India to give the Japanese their first Olympic title in the sport in 24 years.

Yonemitsu, runner-up at the world championships in 2011, beat Kumar 1-0, 3-1 in the first gold-medal match featuring an Indian wrestler. The win was Japan's fourth gold of the London Games. Three Japanese women won gold medals earlier this week.

"It's unbelievable that I really did it," Yonemitsu said. "I think that every day's training paid off. If you did your best just on the day, it would not work. You need to train step by step."


UGANDA'S KIPROTICH WINS MARATHON:

LONDON — A runner named Kiprotich winning the Olympic marathon? Hardly a surprise.

That he was the one from Uganda and not Kenya? Major surprise.

Stephen Kiprotich rounded a corner with three miles left and simply took off, turning the last mile into a victory lap as he easily captured the marathon Sunday, along with the first medal for Uganda at the London Games.

"People didn't expect Uganda. They thought Kenya, Ethiopia," Kiprotich said. "Being unknown, now I'm known."

Sure is.

Kiprotich won in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second as he pulled away from the Kenyan duo of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kiprotich Kipsang, who was the "Kiprotich" favored in this race. Kirui ended up with the silver while Kipsang held on for bronze just ahead of American Meb Keflezighi.

On a warm afternoon, the marathoners wound their way through a scenic route packed with swarms of fans, breezing past Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, London Bridge and the Tower of London before finishing near Buckingham Palace.

And by the time he neared the finish line, Stephen Kiprotich had such a commanding lead that he grabbed a flag from the stands and wore it on his way to gold.

After finishing, he dropped to his knees, bowed and then raised his hands high over his head.

A moment to cherish because these haven't happened all that often for Uganda. This was the country's seventh Olympic medal in any sport and second gold. John Akii-Bua, a 400-meter hurdler, won the other gold 40 years ago in Munich.

"I made history with my people," Kiprotich said. "They didn't expect me to win. I was keeping behind them, keeping the fire burning. When they go, they thought they'd left me, but I was there.

"I kept in touch. Later, I said, 'I believe in myself.' Then, I made my move."

The Kenyans, who were looking at a possible podium sweep, just couldn't keep up. Kirui & Co. were competing in memory of the late Sammy Wanjiru, who won the country's first Olympic marathon four years ago in Beijing. Wanjiru died last year after a fall from a second-story balcony during a domestic dispute.

"In my mind, I was thinking Kiprotich is fading away. In my mind, I was thinking gold is for me," Kirui said. "To my friend Kiprotich, congratulations. He was the best today, that is why he won. For us, we don't really feel bad that he won."

For the Ethiopians, this was a race the runners would rather forget. All three failed to finish the twisting and turning course.

Kipsang was seemingly in control early in the day. He was out front and running all alone, before fading back to the pack. Kirui caught up with him while Kiprotich followed just behind.

At the 23-mile mark, Kiprotich turned the corner and was gone. A surprise surge for a surprise winner on a day when the weather was ideal — at least for the spectators.

It was bright and sunny but grew hot, especially late in the race — quite a contrast to the women's race last Sunday that began in a steady downpour.

While other runners wore the colors of their countries, Guor Marial donned a predominantly gray and black uniform with "I.O.A." printed on it. He wound up 47th, 11:31 behind the winning time.

Marial competed as an independent runner under the banner of the International Olympic Committee after fleeing a refugee camp in what is now South Sudan during a civil war more than a decade ago.

The 28-year-old landed in the United States, seeking asylum. The IOC cleared him last month to compete in the Olympics as an independent athlete after he didn't qualify for Sudan, South Sudan or the United States under its rules.

Marial had run only two marathons in his life, but finished both in Olympic times. His second was just two months ago in San Diego.

"I was not able to get them a medal today, but the finish was the most important," Marial said. "I felt like the world was watching."

Within seconds of each other, U.S. marathoners Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman were out of the Olympic race.

First, Hall dropped out around the 11-mile mark with a tight right hamstring. Then, Abdirahman called it a day because of an aching right knee.

"I felt like I was favoring my stride and didn't want to get injured," said Hall, who lives in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Keflezighi, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., used a strong finish to make up ground and finish fourth. He was motivated by a grudge.

Before the race, a few of the runners were introduced, but not Keflezighi. He felt insulted since he won a silver medal in Athens eight years ago.

"To not be introduced like that, it hurts," he said.