OTOGURO makes host history with men’s 65kg wrestling gold; silver for Azeri Aliyev

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07:  Takuto Otoguro of Team Japan competes against Haji Aliyev of Team Azerbaijan during the Men's Freestyle 65kg Final on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on August 07, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Takuto Otoguro of Team Japan competes against Haji Aliyev of Team Azerbaijan during the Men's Freestyle 65kg Final on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on August 07, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

Young OTOGURO Takuto won a rare men's wrestling gold for Japan by beating Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan in the gold-medal match in the 65kg freestyle category.

OTOGURO Takuto became the first men’s wrestler in 25 years to win gold for his host nation. The young Japanese star overcame Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan in the men’s 65kg freestyle final to win at the Makuhari Messe Hall A on the last day of the week-long Olympic wrestling competition here at the Tokyo 2020 (in 2021) Olympic Games.

The 22-year-old OTOGURO, who won 12 of 12 matches in his first senior season in 2018, took the early edge in the contest only for Rio 2016 bronze winner Aliyev to haul himself back into proceedings and level up at 2-2. But the Japanese competitor was stronger in the end, with a late charge that sealed the contest (5-4) and saw him become only the second Japanese athlete to win a men’s wrestling medal in the past 32 years.

"I didn't feel that I was becoming Olympic champion," said a stunned OTOGURO after winning the gold. "It was my dream, and I still can't believe that it's really come true. I remember that I was losing, but from there I don't remember much of what happened. I was just playing with my instincts. I think what I had been doing in practice came out.”

"I did my best, but ended up with the silver," said Aliyev after collecting his silver medal. "Maybe that is what fate had in store for me."

Gadzhimurad Rashidov of the ROC Team was all over Iszmail Muszukajev of Hungary early to take the edge in the first of the bronze-medal matches in the 65kg class. In the end, his 5-0 win on the points was enough for one of the two bronze medals on offer.

Rashidov adds the bronze to his podium finishes in the last three world championships – including the gold in 2019.

The other Olympic bronze medal awarded on the day went to Bajrang Punia of India, who shutout Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan (8-0) in the second of the two undercard matches leading up to the showpiece final.

“I’m happy, but not really happy because I wanted the gold medal," said the Indian bronze winner after his match. "I had a knee injury a month back, so I’m slightly happy that I’m at least going home with a bronze medal. I want to thank everybody who helped me with that injury, because an athlete needs support at that time so that they can win a medal for their country.”