Former Iowa Hawkeye Wins World Championship
Thomas Gilman won the American Olympic Trials in his weight class of 57 kilograms (125 pounds) and went on to earn the bronze medal in Tokyo this summer.
Just two months after taking bronze, he's earned the title of best in the world at the 2021 Senior men's freestyle world championships in Oslo, Norway.
After defeating Iran's Alireza Sarlak, 5-3, in Monday's championship match, he raved to reporters about how difficult taking the final match was.
"He’s a tough, tough competitor," Gilman said. "You always know, when you wrestle an Iranian, they’re known for their toughness and their straight-forward hand-fighting, just like how I wrestle. In those first two minutes, we’re scrapping and he’s staying in there, so I’m like, let’s go.
"Iranians are really good there. They throw your head to the outside, bust your lock, and focus on those fundamental things. I chuckled to myself, because it felt familiar. I was looking for maybe four, but we got to the edge and he was strong there, so I dumped him and got the two. If I don’t get that takedown, maybe I lose. It was important."
One has to imagine the victory and 4-0 record over the championships tastes even more sweet after Gilman has won two other world-level medals, but had never come out on top. Including the Olympic bronze, Gilman took home the world-silver medal in 2017 after losing to Japan's Yuki Takahashi, 6-0.
"I’m just glad that we did it, finally," Gilman said. "We is for me, my wife, my dogs, my unborn child, my coaching staff, USA Wrestling, my training partners, my annoying camera man."
The Council Bluffs native is just the second Iowa native to take home a world title, and the last to do it in the previous 50 years. Taking the home the gold puts Gilman in illustrious company. The only other person to do it? Dan Gable. Who is, by nearly all accounts, the greatest wrestler and wrestling coach of all time.
"I did nothing, really. I did 18-24 minutes of work out there," Gillman added. "It’s all the people behind the scenes, the people you don’t see, the people that will never take the credit for anything — that’s we. I want to make sure I give credit to them."
Kyle Date and Jordan Burroughs were the lone other Americans to take gold. Date won at 74 kg (163 lbs.), and Burroughs took first at 79 kg (174 lbs.).