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 Medal 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.”
Doping: IOC chief Rogge praises successful enforcement effort
Anti-doping efforts to keep the London Games clean have been hailed as a success by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge.
Through Sunday morning, only one athlete tested positive for a banned substance on the day of competing at the Olympics. Seven more were caught in doping controls conducted since the official games testing period began July 16. One of the seven competed in London before her test result was known.
“I think that is a sign that the system works,” Rogge said at a news conference. “I am happy about the fact that we could catch athletes who cheated, both before the games and at the games.”
Rogge said a further 117 out-of-competition cases were recorded since April, preventing athletes from ever getting to the games.
“This is 117 cheats who are not going to affect the results of the clean athletes,” said Rogge.
The IOC pledged its most extensive Olympic anti-doping program, taking almost 6,000 urine and blood samples, including no-notice tests before athletes compete.
Rogge cautioned that some samples were still being analyzed and “we might hear something tomorrow or the day after. Hopefully not, but you never know.”
Boxing: Hometown favorite Joshua takes gold for Britain
With a low rumble and high-pitched screams, thousands of Anthony Joshua’s hometown fans stood up nearly in unison before the final round of the final bout of the Olympics.
Joshua faced a three-point deficit to the defending Olympic champion super heavyweight, a daunting deficit in amateur boxing.
He had just three minutes to somehow finish these games on top of the podium. And just like so many British athletes in these remarkable home Olympics, the north Londoner got it done.
Joshua roared back from that late deficit and won a tiebreaker victory over Italy’s Roberto Cammarelle on Sunday, grabbing Britain’s third boxing gold medal at home. He managed to keep his eyes dry on the medal stand, but the imposing brawler from Finchley acknowledged he couldn’t have hung on without hometown help.
“I felt the hearts of all these people around this nation,” Joshua said. “That medal represents my journey, and the support from the team. It’s much more than a gold medal. It’s a life experience.”
With the medal around his neck and a flag around three sets of broad shoulders, Joshua later posed for photos with Lennox Lewis and Audley Harrison, two icons of British boxing and previous winners of super heavyweight gold.
Joshua’s big finish in the tournament’s glamour division allowed him to match the gold medals won by bantamweight Luke Campbell and women’s flyweight Nicola Adams, part of Britain’s five-medal haul from the London Olympics that included Freddie Evans’ welterweight silver from Sunday.
Water Polo: U.S. men fall, end disappointing tourney in 8th
The U.S. men’s water polo team ended its dismal Olympic campaign with a thud.
The Americans, who entered the games with hopes of improving on their silver medal four years ago in Beijing, closed play in London on Sunday with their fifth straight loss, falling to Australia 10-9 to drop to eighth place.
“Not a very good way to finish, for sure,” coach Terry Schroeder said.
Croatia beat Italy 8-6 in Sunday’s final for its first gold medal.
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