They call him "The Magic Man," and 2018 world champion David Taylor saved the biggest trick of his life for the last seconds of his gold medal bout Thursday at the Tokyo Olympics.
Trailing 3-2 to defending champion and top seed Hassan Yazdanicharati of Iran, the first-time Olympian suddenly swept through his opponent for a big two points and the win.
Helen Maroulis, the 2016 Olympic champion, and Thomas Gilman took bronze medals with dominant performances in their last bouts. Gilman needed two wins to get his medal.
Earlier in the day, Gable Stevenson stormed into the 125kg semifinals with two dominant wins. Jacarra Winchester gave up six points in her 53kg quarterfinal on the way to defeat, and two-time world champion Kyle Dake lost his quarterfinal bout by a staggering 11-0 score.
Dake and Winchester will each have a chance to duplicate Gilman's path to bronze, starting in the repechage on Friday.
Taylor takes gold late
Yazdanicharati had the 2016 gold medal, albeit in a smaller weight class. At the 86kg class, he had won the world championship in 2017 and 2019.
But Taylor, who had not yet competed in the Olympics, won that title in 2018. He beat Yazdanicharati on the way to that championship, as he did in the 2017 World Cup.
In Thursday's Olympic final, Taylor seemed unlikely to repeat the feat. The defending champion scored first when Taylor couldn't produce anything under a 30-second shot clock. The lead moved to 2-0 on a penalty to Taylor.
The American answered quickly to tie the bout at 2. But Yazdanicharati managed to push Taylor out of the rings to take a 3-2 lead with 1:30 left.
With time running down, Taylor struck with breathtaking speed, getting a double-leg takedown and two points. Yazdanicharati had no time left to answer.
Also in the 86kg weight class, University of Michigan wrestler Myles Amine claimed San Marino's third medal of the Games in dramatic fashion, taking down India's Deepak Punia with roughly 10 seconds left for a 4-2 win. Amine finished third in the 2018, 2019 and 2021 NCAA championships. San Marino, a nation with a population of 33,860, won its first two medals in its Olympic history in shooting earlier in the Games.
Amine battled his way back through the bracket after losing to Taylor.
Maroulis completes long road back
Since winning gold in 2016 and a world championship in 2017, Maroulis has dealt with a long-term concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder, leading to her retirement in 2019. She came back and finished seventh in an event earlier this year.
In Tokyo, she started with an 8-4 win over China's Rong Ningning and an 8-0 rout over Ukraine's Tetyana Kit but lost to Japan's Kawai Risako in the 57kg semifinals on Wednesday.
A day later, she looked like an Olympic and world champion, repeatedly taking down Mongolia's Khongorzul Boldsaikhan with superior speed and strength for an 11-0 decision. She actually reached 11-0 and an automatic stoppage of the bout with about 45 seconds left, but after a video challenge, officials took her last two points off the board. Needing only to avoid a pin, Maroulis instead scored the two points once again, stopping the bout and clinching the bronze.
Kawai joined her younger sister, Yukako, as an Olympic champion, winning the gold medal bout with ease.
Gilman rebounds for bronze
After a 5-4 defeat in the Round of 16, Gilman overwhelmed his opponents in the repechage and bronze medal bouts. He beat Uzbekistan's Gulomjon Abdullaev 11-1 and then used effective countermoves to beat Reza Altrinagharchi, repeatedly catching the Iranian wrestler's legs and forcing him down for a 9-1 decision.
Gilman, an alumnus of wrestling powerhouse Iowa, was making his Olympic debut after second- and fifth-place finishes in world championships.
ROC wrestler Zavur Uguev, who defeated Gilman, took gold.