David Taylor celebrates after defeating Iran’s Hassan Yazdanicharati in the men’s 86kg freestyle wrestling final on Thursday in Tokyo. Aaron Favila/Associated Press

CHIBA, Japan — David Taylor was about to lose the gold medal, the one thing he had wanted for years, that he had worked for endlessly. But the last seconds of this 86 kilogram freestyle wrestling final match against Iran’s Hassan Yazdanicharti were ticking down and he trailed by a point.

He had to do something.

So with about 20 seconds left before losing gold, he pushed hard off the mat, flipping Yazdanicharti over, crawling on top and holding on as hard as he could.

“I’m going to squeeze this gut wrench and I hope we don’t go back to our feet,” he later said he thought to himself.

Then two points appeared on the scoreboard. He went from down 3-2 to wining 4-3. Suddenly the match was over and he had won. And almost an hour later, walking around under the Makahuri Messe Hall, wearing his gold medal, he had no idea how he had won at the end.

“I just had to find a way,” he said.

Taylor is 30. This is his first Olympics. He’s won a world championship and a world cup and three golds at the Pan American championships. But somehow he couldn’t walk out of the Tokyo Games without winning one here.

“There was no way I wasn’t going to find a way,” he said. “It’s the gold medal, man. I’m going to find a way. I’m going to have to rip my arms off to find a way if I have to.”

A few years ago, he said, he wouldn’t have had the ability to win such a match. He might have dominated weaker opponents, blowing through to a more challenging one like Thursday’s and would somehow lose. In May of 2019 he had a severe knee injury that required surgery. He spent almost a year rehabilitating the injury. The work made his legs much stronger than they were before. He is sure it was that extra strength that allowed him to get that final power.

“I said this isn’t going to be pretty, it’s going to be hard, I’m just going to have to find a way,” he said. “I’m going to have to get this takedown.”

Then he did. It was the United States’ second wrestling gold medal at these Olympics. On Tuesday, Tamyra Mensah Stock won the women’s 68 kilogram gold.

United States’ Madeline Musselman, top center, winds up as she is defended by Maria Bersneva (2), and Elvina Karimova (4), of the Russian Olympic Committee, during a semifinal round women’s water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

WOMEN’S WATER POLO

Maddie Musselman thinks about it all the time. Playing on the talented U.S. women’s water polo team, Musselman is constantly debating whether she should pass or shoot the ball. She decided to shoot Thursday, and it worked out quite well for the Americans.

Musselman scored four of her five goals in the second half, rallying the U.S. to a 15-11 victory over the Russian team in the semifinals at the Tokyo Olympics.

“It’s a battle that I personally fight every day, in terms of is it your shot or is it the person next to you,” Musselman said. “I think today it came down to my shot.”

Did it ever. Led by Musselman and clutch plays by Alys Williams and Melissa Seidemann, the U.S. stayed in the mix for a third consecutive gold medal. Next up is Spain, which advanced with an 8-6 victory over Hungary. Captain Maggie Steffens had three goals as the U.S. improved to 133-4 since it won gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. It has won three in a row since it lost 10-9 to Hungary in group play for its first loss at the Olympics since the 2008 final against the Netherlands.

Spain is looking for its first gold medal. It lost to the U.S. 8-5 in the 2012 final, and then finished fifth at the Rio Olympics. It also lost to the U.S. in the final at the 2019 world championships.

WOMEN’S DIVING

China’s divers are programmed from an early age to strive for perfection. Quan Hongchan, 14, delivered it with two of her five dives in a dominant performance to claim the gold medal in women’s 10-meter platform at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

All seven judges gave Quan perfect 10s for her second and fourth dives in the five-round competition. Perfection was achieved first with an inward 3 ½ somersaults tuck then more ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ followed for a backward armstand with 2 somersaults and 1 ½ twists. For her final dive, a backward pike with 2 ½ somersaults and 1 ½ twists, Quan received six more 10s.

Her Chinese teammate Chen Yuxi claimed the silver medal with 425.40 points. Melissa Wu of Australia won the bronze with 371.40 points for the second medal of her Olympic career.

WOMEN’S GOLF

Already with her first major title and the No. 1 ranking, Nelly Korda took a big step toward a gold medal Thursday with a 9-under 62 that tied an Olympic record and gave her a four-shot lead. Still to be determined was how much golf was left to be played in the women’s competition.

Korda looked dominant as ever, and the 23-year-old American made it look easy, at least until she reached the final hole at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Her tee shot bounded through the sun-baked fairway into the rough, with a thick limb from a pine tree blocking her path to the flag. Instead of taking a risk, she pitched down the fairway, came up short into a bunker with her wedge to a front pin and wound up with double bogey.

Her 62 still tied the Olympic women’s record set by Maria Verchenova of Russia last time in the final round at Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro. She was at 13-under 129, four shots clear of the Danish duo of Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pederson, and Aditi Ashok of India, who is giving up plenty of distance and little else in her bid for a medal.

CLIMBING

Spanish teenager Alberto Gines Lopez won the first Olympic gold medal in sport climbing, riding a victory in the speed discipline to the top of the podium Thursday at the Tokyo Games.

The 18-year-old Gines Lopez opened the finals with the speed win, then showed off his all-around skills by finishing seventh in lead and fourth in bouldering. He had 30 points – the finishes are multiplied together – to edge Nathaniel Coleman of the United States by two.

Coleman topped three of the four “problems” to win bouldering, was fifth in lead and sixth in speed.

Jakob Schubert of Austria had the climb of the night, becoming the first man or woman to reach the top of the 45-meter lead wall in three days of competition. His climb moved him into the bronze medal spot and knocked Czech climber Adam Ondra off the podium.

MEN’S FIELD HOCKEY

Alexander Hendrickx scored the penalty stroke for the lead in the shootout and Vincent Vanasch got the clinching save as Belgium beat Australia to win men’s field hockey Olympic gold for the first time.

The score was tied 1-all at the end of regulation before Belgium won the shootout 3-2 on Thursday at the Tokyo Games.

Belgium had to wait an extra year to improve on its second-place performance in 2016.

“Standing on the biggest stage on the biggest podium for a small hockey country as Belgium is a crown on all the hard work,” forward Thomas Briels said. “And a lot of respect to all the teammates — we work so hard — and people behind the scenes of hockey in Belgium.”

Vanasch’s final save came against Australian midfielder Jacob Whetton. Vanasch said he was confident, even after a review forced him to get the last save twice.

“I’m like a musician, it’s a rehearsal and then you come to the concert and it comes naturally,” he said. “That’s how I come on the pitch. I’m composed, but also I trust myself, I trust my reflexes and you can learn that from experience and that’s why today I did something like this.”

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