Key dates: Aug. 10 to 12, medal matches Venue: ExCel Exhibition Centre Big story: Russia is expected to dominate the freestyle competition once again, having strong gold medal contenders in Besik Kudukhov in the 121-pound class and and Bilyal Makhov at 264 pounds. Jamal Otarsultanov could also medal in the 121-pound class as he earned a spot on the team by stunning two-time world gold medalist Viktor Lebedev at Russian nationals. Iran, however, could play spoiler with a squad that includes 2011 world champions Mehdi Taghavi at 145 pounds and Reza Yazdani at 211 pounds. Without Lebedev in the competition, Hassan Rahimi also could snag gold for Iran. Top U.S. prospects: Former University of Nebraska star Jordan Burroughs (above) is the U.S. team's best chance for gold following two collegiate national titles and a 2011 world title in the 163-pound class, the first for the U.S. in any freestyle class since 2006. The most-decorated wrestler in Northwestern University history, Jake Herbert won the prestigious Hodges Trophy in 2009 and then topped it by winning silver in the 185-pound class at the world championships later that year. With two NCAA Division I Championship titles on his resume, former Iowa State star Jake Varner could be a surprise medalist in the 211-pound class. Others to watch: Two wrestlers will be shouldering their country's unusually high expectations in London. Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico, a former Michigan State standout, became the second Puerto Rican to win a world wrestling medal after getting silver in the 132-pound division at last year's championships. Kyong-Il Yang of North Korea, the 2009 world champion, is expected to be a contender in the wide-open 121-pound class. Little-known fact: Those are actual Azerbaijani wrestlers appearing in the Febreze TV commercial. The ad purports to test whether the air freshener can conquer the not-so-fragrant gym where team members Haji Alijanov, Rafiq Huseynov, Jamal Magomedov and Sharif Sharifov work out.
Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
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