WRESTLING - FREESTYLE
Wrestling - Freestyle
The greater freedom of technique afforded to freestyle competitors has enabled the discipline to become the more popular of the Olympic wrestling formats since making its debut in 1904.
Despite Greco-Roman's longer and more illustrious history, dating back to ancient times, the modifications of freestyle mean that many of the same restrictions do not apply, with wrestlers allowed to use all parts of the body to try and get the better of and subdue an opponent.
As well as the technical skills needed to master the different grapples and throws in order to gain a pin, wrestlers also need high levels of stamina to sustain their attacks in what is one of the most intense sports going.
A bout can finish early if a wrestler wins the first two periods - with three competed in total - or pins his opponent's shoulders to the floor. However, if neither occurs then the competitor with the most points after the three rounds is declared the winner.
Before point scoring was introduced, wrestling matches continued until one wrestler was finally forced to the ground and this meant that some bouts lasted for hours before a winner was declared. In its current format, each round lasts for two minutes, with a 30-second break between each.
There are seven freestyle weight divisions for men and four for women at London 2012, with women having first competed at the Olympics at Athens 2004.
Freestyle wrestling competitions are staged on a straight knockout basis, with the two winning semi-finalists battling it out for gold. Any fighter who has lost to either of the finalists at some stage of the competition is given the opportunity to compete for one of two bronze medals in the repechage phase.
Russia, Japan and the USA have traditionally been the most dominant nations in freestyle wrestling, although the likes of Iran and Azerbaijan have also enjoyed success in the sport.
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