Protesters Upset Iran Wrestlers
Exile groups protesting the militant Islamic government in Tehran interrupted Saturday night’s Goodwill Games wrestling match between the United States and Iran.
After Behnam Taiebi recorded a 5-0 victory over American Sam Henson, Tony Purler of the United States entered the ring for his bout against Mohammad Talaie. But Talaie did not appear and the Iranians refused to wrestle because of the protesting fans.
After 20 minutes, Talaie entered the ring waving an Iranian flag and the match continued. The U.S. won the dual meet at Madison Square Garden, 19-9, clinching it on former world champion Melvin Douglas’ overtime victory over Olympic silver medalist Abbas Jadidi.
“A group of fans was protesting politically in the stands. The Iranian team leader took offense and left with his team,” said Larry Sciacchetano, president of USA Wrestling. “What they asked us to do was to clear the protesters from the arena. We had a hard time convincing them that this is a free society.”
Police said no arrests were made.
In other competition, Karch Kiraly and Adam Johnson advanced to the gold-medal match in beach volleyball with a 12-2, 12-10 win over Australians Julien Prosser and Leo Zahner.
In women’s soccer, the U.S. will play Monday for the gold medal against China. The Americans, with Mia Hamm scoring three goals, beat Denmark 5-0, after China upset world champion Norway, 4-2, in a shootout.
The men’s triathlon title was won for the second consecutive time by Simon Lessing of Britain, while Australia’s Loretta Harrop rallied to win the women’s race.
U.S. cyclist Mike McCarthy won the men’s elimination and scratch race, and the U.S. trio of Paul Swift and brothers Jonas and James Carney took the Magic Mile. Olympic speedskating medalist Chris Witty was second in the women’s sprint.
As the competition continued on a glorious summer day, a Chinese gymnast paralyzed in a practice accident underwent surgery in hopes of someday walking again.
Doctors at Nassau County Medical Center fused two fractured and dislocated vertebrae in the neck of 17-year-old Sang Lan during a seven-hour operation.
Sang was in critical but stable condition. Her parents arrived from China late Saturday.