My plan is to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games: Hasan Yazdani

June 6, 2020 - 19:19

TEHRAN - Hasan Yazdani, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion in freestyle, who is one of the world's biggest stars in international wrestling, is going to participate at the 2024 Olympic Games.

After winning a junior world title in 2014, Yazdani made his mark at the senior level in 2015 by earning a silver medal at the World Championships at 70kg. The following year, Yazdani moved up a weight category to 74kg and captured a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In 2017, Yazdani moved up another weight category to 86kg and won a world championship in Paris. He added a world bronze medal in 2018 before claiming his second world title at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan.

"The Greatest" joined United World Wrestling's website to discuss his rivalry with David TAYLOR (USA), his epic comeback in the Rio Olympic finals, and whether or not he plans on moving up another weight category.

Q: How did you start in the sport of wrestling?

A: I started wrestling at 12. In our country, wrestling, especially in my town, is a popular sport. We also have popular traditional wrestling and as a child, I used to go watch. I became interested early in life and eventually participate and stayed with it. So here we are!

Q: Who was your wrestling hero growing up?

A: I try to look up to all champions and learn from them, especially their best techniques. So, I really can’t say one person on the mat. But, from the character perspective, I learned a lot from Gholamreza Takhti, though again there are so many champions I respect.

Q: You’re coming back from knee surgery. Can you tell us how your recovery has gone and are you back on the mat now or not?

A: It’s been about two months since my surgery I am back training hard, but not like the competition training. For the first month after surgery, I did therapy only and then slowly returned to the mat. Right now, during the pause, I am working on bodybuilding, weights, and slowly training. Overall, my knee is good and not bothering me.

Q: Do you have any desire to go up to 97kg?

A: The truth is that my natural weight has made me change weight classes. I used to lose 6-7 kilos, but when the new rules came out, I knew I needed to move up closer to my natural weight of 89kg. So really, 86kg is ideal for me, but if my weight goes up, I will go up, too. I like to enter new weight classes, but for now, 86kg is perfect for me.

Q: In the 2015 World Championship final that you lose to Magomedrasul Gazimagomedov and took the silver medal. What did you learn from that match that you took into the 2016 Rio Olympic games?

A: After each loss, you learn. You learn about the mistakes from technique and mindset. After I lose matches, I work on my weakness and try to get better. In 2015, it was my first appearance at the senior level and I made some mistakes. When I came back home I retrained and learned from my mistakes and I got ready for the Olympic Games. 

Q: Down 6-0 against Aniuar Geduev from Russia in the final match of the 2016 Olympic, no panic you came back and won the Olympic gold medal. What was on your mind?

A: I was thinking positive and I was thinking of winning, not even one percent of the time on the mat did I think of losing. My mind was clear, I wasn’t concerned about injuries. I had my coaches and God by my side, which helped me to stay focus and earn the win.

Q: Where does the respect between you and your opponents like David Taylor come from? He wishes you speedy recover when you were injured and you did the same for him.

A: For athletes, respect comes from seeing each other’s character and their culture. I always think about respecting all my opponents and I always wish them the best in health and personal success. No matter if they are my direct opponent or not, I wish they are in great situation so we can put on a great show for fans. Wrestling is a way for us to show our character and that is what the sport is about for me and my countrymen.

Q: You are a man of many nicknames; The Greatest, The King, Fearless. Is there one that you like more than others?

A: The truth is that I hope I am worthy of these nicknames. Each one is valuable for me and so I hope I can live up to the nicknames and the expectations of my great fans. I always want to keep their hope, so I accept them all and just hope that I am worthy.

Q: What are you going to do when you retire from the sport of wrestling?

A: I haven’t thought about retirement. Perhaps after I’m done competing, I will still be involved in wrestling, or maybe in business. Right now, I am just thinking about wrestling. All the financial stuff is the responsibility of my dad, so I do not get distracted. This way I can focus on wrestling.

Q: How many Olympic medals do you hope to win?

A: I hope I can achieve the best medals during my wrestling career for as long as my body allows me. Ideally, I want to have the most medals, both Olympic medals, and world medals. My plan is to compete at the 2024 Olympics if my body allows it.

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