Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wrestling with Issues Jake Herbert: Controversial Calls Prevent Him from Winning a Medal in a Long, Hard Day

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wrestling with Issues Jake Herbert: Controversial Calls Prevent Him from Winning a Medal in a Long, Hard Day

Article excerpt

LONDON -- With a broken heart and nerves rubbed raw by the most disappointing day he had spent near a wrestling mat, Jake Herbert went searching for reassurance the only place he knew to look.

His final match, a defeat against Turkey's Ibrahim Bolukbasi Saturday night that eliminated him from contention for an Olympic medal, had been over for about 20 minutes. Wearing his blue singlet with a white T-shirt over it, Herbert climbed the stairs to Section 416 of the ExCel Exhibition Centre and peered over the railing, his eyes combing the crowd for his parents.

A few minutes earlier, in an emotional state, he had said that he was sorry he had let his large group of supporters down.

"I know they'll say I didn't," said Herbert, 27, who went to North Allegheny High School, "but I came here to win hardware, and I'm not leaving with it."

His mother, Kelly, started her son's rebuilding process, giving him a hug and telling him "I'm so proud of you." His father, Jim, picked up where she left off, pulling Jake in for a hug that immediately produced heaving tears from both sides.

How did the hulking Herbert men get to this disconsolate place? They both believed Jake was destined to be golden, to the point that the family had black T-shirts printed up that said "From Steel City to London Gold." After three matches in the 84-kilogram (about 185 pounds) division, they would leave Saturday night feeling cheated and wondering why it was Jake who became the victim of two seemingly questionable judging calls.

Herbert won his first match, but, in a quarterfinal, he was pitted against the 2011 world champion, Azerbaijan's Sharif Sharifov, a tough draw. Sharifov won the first round, 4-1. In the second, Sharifov made an attacking move that drove back Herbert, but it appeared Herbert was able to stop Sharifov's move and turn him onto his back.

If the judges had ruled that's what happened, Herbert would have been awarded three points. But they determined that Sharifov had initiated the move and gave him three instead.

While this was being debated by the judges, the match continued, with Sharifov getting on top of Herbert for two more points. …

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