'Magic Man' David Taylor secures USA wrestling gold over Iran's Hassan Yazdani with dramatic late rally

·2-min read

Before Thursday, David Taylor's résumé had it all. With one glaring hole.

The former Penn State Nittany Lion nicknamed "Magic Man" due to his penchant for pulling out comeback victories was a four-time Big Ten champion, two-time NCAA champion, three-time U.S. Open champion, three-time Pan American champion and a world cup winner and world champion in 2018.

After a late rally against Iran's Hassan Yazdani in Thursday's 86kg freestyle final, he can call himself Olympic champion. All thanks to perhaps the biggest magic trick of his career. Taylor overcame an early 2-0 deficit and a 3-2 hole in the match's final 20 seconds to secure the 4-3 victory and a spot atop the medal podium.

"The Magic Man" David Taylor lived up to his moniker in Thursday's gold medal final. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/file)
"The Magic Man" David Taylor lived up to his moniker in Thursday's gold medal final. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/file)

Taylor finds late magic for gold medal

Yazdani struck first with a penalty point to take a 1-0 lead after the first of two three-minute periods. He scored another point 30 seconds into the final frame before Taylor tied things up with a two-point takedown.

Yazdani reclaimed the lead, 3-2 with a 1-point push-out with less than two minutes remaining. He held the lead until the final 20 seconds, seemingly in control of the gold medal. But "Magic Man" pulled out one last trick. After Yazdani repeatedly fended off his takedown attempts, Taylor attacked low and flipped Yazdani on his belly for his second two-point takedown of the match. 

Yazdani fought desperately for a reversal, but Taylor broke free and celebrated gold as the final seconds ticked off the clock. He then embraced his coaches, overjoyed with the victory over an opponent known as "Fearless" and "The King" in his home country. 

The win was the second dramatic comeback over Yazdani of Taylor's career. The Iranian took an early 6-2 lead over Taylor in their previous matchup in the opening round of the 2018 world championships. Taylor then scored the final nine points for an 11-6 win to kick off his path to a world championship. 

On Thursday, he saved his magic for the final seconds. And it was enough to secure gold. 

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Click image to see slideshow

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