Graham wrestling legend advances to gold medal match at Olympics

Taylor will wrestle the defending Olympic champion Thursday

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Graham High School graduate and former Penn State University wrestler David Taylor dominated his three 86kg (190-pound) matches Wednesday at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, and will have a chance to win the gold medal Thursday.

“I’ve dreamed of nothing but a gold medal, I’m going to go out and earn it every single second,” Taylor said in a story shared on Penn State’s official website.  “Back home at Penn State, we’ve got these young killers. They bring the fire every single day and you’ve got no choice. They keep me young, excited, hungry. They help me prepare every step of the way; I am challenged all the time. I believe in myself. I want to be here.”

» PHOTOS: David Taylor through the years

Taylor defeated Ali Shabanau, of Belarus, 11-0 in his first match. He then beat another American wrestler, Myles Nazem Amine, who’s competing for San Marino at the Olympics, 12-2 in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Taylor beat Deepak Punia, of India, 10-0.

Taylor will wrestle the defending Olympic champion Hassan Yazdani, of Iran, for the championship. Taylor is 2-0 in his career against Yazdani.

The medal matches start around 6:30 a.m. (EST) Thursday. Graham Local Schools will host a watch party at the middle school. Doors open at 6 a.m. People can enter through the front doors of the school. For more information, contact Don Burley, director of operations, at

Taylor, a four-time state champion in high school and a two-time NCAA champion at Penn State, qualified for the Olympics in April by winning the freestyle title at the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials. He defeated Bo Nickal in the best-of-three final series 4-0 and 6-0.

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