Zain Retherford Goes 1-1 in First World Championships

By Rob Dougherty on August 26, 2017 at 9:15 am
Zain Retherford goes 1-1 in first world championship.
Joe Maiorana, USA Today Sports

Zain Retherford's first world championship ended with him going 1-1, and losing in the Round of 16. Zain was unable to wrestle for bronze because the opponent who beat him, Adam Batirov (Bahrain), did not advance to the final. UWW rules provide that the only competitors who can wrestle for bronze are ones who were beaten by a finalist. Batirov did not make the final, so Zain could not wrestle for bronze. 

Zain's tournament started out with a bang when he won by technical superiority against Edinboro graduate David Habat (Slovenia). Zain dominated the contest on their feet, scoring four takedowns, with one of the takedowns being a four point move. Zain finished the match a 10-0 winner, where he went on to face Batirov in the Round of 16. 

Zain's match with Batirov was back and forth, and Zain drained every bit of energy that Batirov had in the tank. Batirov scored the only points in the 1st period with a funky roll and he took the 2-0 lead heading into the break. Zain responded with a takedown of his own in the 2nd. However, Batirov was able to counter the leg ride for one point, and Zain looked dead to rights to Batirov's leg lace, but Zain fought that off. 

Batirov scored a takedown with one minute left to take a 5-2 lead, and it seemed like Zain was going to be unable to fight back. Zain scored a takedown quickly off the restart to make the score 5-4, but he had only 12 seconds to get another takedown or lose the match. In the dying seconds of the match, Zain was in behind on Batirov, who was doing everything he could to prevent the takedown, but Zain could not get Batirov's knee onto the mat until time expired. The referee awarded no takedown. Team USA challenged the ruling, but it was upheld as called on the mat, Batirov was awarded a point for Zain losing the challenge, and won the match 6-4. 

It was clear that Batirov spent all of his energy to survive and advance against Zain, and he did not look nearly as fresh in the next round. He went on to lose in the next round to Alan Gogaev (Russia), ending Zain's tournament. Despite not wrestling for a medal in his first tournament, the Nittany Lion looked like he belonged and has plenty to build on after this performance. It would not be surprising to see PSU fans clear their afternoons to see Zain wrestle for a medal in 2018.