Gophers grappler earns bronze medal in Sydney with comeback victory

by Josh Linehan

The medal hanging around his neck isn’t Gopher gold, but for Garrett Lowney it will probably be good enough.
Lowney, a 20-year-old University freshman, won an Olympic bronze medal in Greco-Roman wrestling in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday.
The Freedom, Wisc. native defeated Konstanitnos Thanos of Greece 3-1 in overtime to claim a medal in his first major international event at the senior level.
The match was scoreless through the first period. Thanos drew first blood with a point at the start of the second. After tying the score, Lowney took the Grecian grappler down to earn the lead for good. Overtime was necessary because a wrestler must score three points to win.
Wrestling sparingly at the heavyweight spot behind Minnesota superstar Brock Lesnar, the 213-pound Lowney compiled a 10-2 record with the Gophers in 1998-99.
Lowney will likely replace Lesnar as the Gophers regular heavyweight wrestler.
Along the way, Lowney upset three older and more experienced wrestlers before falling to eventual gold-medalist Mikael Ljungberg in the semi-finals.
Marek Svec, the 1998 world silver-medalist, fell first, by virtue of a 2-0 decision. Next came Gogui Koguouachvila, the favorite in the 213-pound weight-class.
Lowney took out the front-runner with a spectacular five-point throw breaking a three-all tie in overtime and giving the Americans an 8-3 victory.
An injury sufferd in the match with Ljungberg contributed to the American’s defeat. Lowney almost did not finish the match, but pressed on and, after treatments from U.S. Olympic team physician Dr. David Weinstein went, on to win the bronze.
Lowney’s medal is just the third ever for a Minnesota wrestler in Olympic competition, and the first on foreign soil. Jim Martinez took bronze at the 1984 game in Los Angeles, and Brandon Paulson took a silver medal home from the 1996 games in Atlanta.

Josh Linehan is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]