Olympic Wrestling 2012: Mango and Provisor Ready to Kick Things off for USA
On Sunday, Greco-Roman wrestling action will kick off with the 121- and 163-pound brackets. The US will be represented by Spenser Mango and Ben Provisor respectively. Both men have made weight and are ready to go.
This will be the second Olympic tournament for Mango, who placed eighth in Beijing in 2008. A graduate of Northern Michigan University's Olympic Education Center, he is currently serving in the Army's World Class Athlete program.
His opening match will be against Abouhalima Abouhalima of Egypt. The 18-year-old Egyptian wrestler made it to the Olympics by winning the qualifying tournament for Africa and Oceana. If Mango wins, he gets the winner of Mingiyan Semenov of Russia and 2011 World Champion Rovshan Bayramov of Azerbaijan.
Five-time World Champion Hamid Soryan Reihanpour from Iran is the favorite at this weight, but as USA Wrestling's Gary Abbott detailed in his preview last month, the bracket is full of World medalists. There is no such thing as an easy match at the Olympics.
Like Mango, Ben Provisor is a Northern Michigan University alumnus. Provisor's opening round match will be against Alexei Bel of Cuba, who placed second at this year's Pan-Am Games.
The favorites in the 163 pound bracket are two-time World Champion Selcuk Cebi of Turkey and 22-year-old Russian Roman Vlasov, who beat Cebi in the finals at the 2011 World Championships. For Provisor, who will be representing the U.S. for the first time at the Senior World level, it will be a steep uphill climb to reach the medal podium.
But unpredictability and underdog stories are a large part of what makes all sports compelling. In an individual sport like wrestling, no athlete who has qualified can ever be counted out.
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