Olympic Day Ends Early for Army Wrestler
By Tim Hipps
Army Installation Management Command
LONDON, Aug. 6, 2012 U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Greco-Roman wrestler Sgt. 1st Class Dremiel Byers was eliminated from the Olympic heavyweight tournament after splitting two matches today at ExCel North Arena 2 here.
Byers defeated Uzbekistan’s Muminjon Adbullaev, 1-0, 1-0, before losing 1-0, 1-0 to reigning world champion Riza Kayaalp of Turkey in the quarterfinals.
Byers could not lift or turn Kayaalp from the par terre position in the first period, and the Turk pushed Byers out of bounds, and for all intent and purposes, out of the tournament in the second period.
“That’s what he does, so that’s what I trained for and I was supposed to have been able to stop that,” Byers said. “And I didn’t. I knew what kind of match to expect. I trained for it. I was expecting it to be settled on the feet.”
Four years ago in Beijing, Byers said he might have waited too long to make his moves. His final match in London somewhat resembled a case of déjà vu.
“I didn’t fire as much as I wanted to, especially when I was on top,” Byers said. “I really don’t know what to say. It just hurts – didn’t work out the way I needed it to. I tried to leave it out there, but I just came up short.”
Byers was officially eliminated from the tournament when three-time world champion and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Mijain Lopez of Cuba beat Kayaalp in the semifinals. Kayaalp, who defeated Lopez at the 2011 World Championship finals in Turkey, needed to reach the finals in London to pull Byers into the repechage and give him another shot at the bronze medal.
Byers was optimistic that would happen.
“The guy’s talented,” Byers said of Kayaalp. “He’s last year’s world champion, so he’s very capable. His style is something that clashes with a lot of people, so we’ll see.”
That plan did not work for Byers, who compared his performance here to his seventh-place finish in the 2008 Beijing Games.
“Same result as right now -- second match done, at the mercy of another wrestler. That’s where I’m at now,” he said. “So the effort that I put into it was far greater.”
Another four years of preparation, however, was not totally lost, Byers said.
“I gained a lot of hometown love and support, and I’m just carrying with that right now,” said Byers, 37, a native of Kings Mountain, N.C., who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colo. “That’s been the fuel behind a lot of this for me. I’m appreciative of Kings Mountain, everybody in North Carolina, and the Army for supporting me the way they have.
“None of this would be possible for me without the Army,” he continued. “The Army World Class Athlete Program has given me a life that very few people could even understand. It’s so wonderful to know that I’ve got people around me wearing the same uniform as me to support me as much as they do and teaching me to be a better person every day. I’m very fortunate for the United States Army and everything it’s given me.”
A reporter asked Byers if he thinks about Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
“I think it’s a great place,” Byers said.
Does that mean his quest for an Olympic gold medal will continue?
“I’m not scared,” Byers replied. “I’m not scared.”