By Peter Griffiths
LONDON (Reuters) - Iran's Hamid Soryan won his country's first ever Olympic gold medal in Greco-Roman wrestling on Sunday, cruising to victory over the reigning world champion.
Cheering wildly and waving their country's flag, Iranian supporters ran to the side of the packed arena to try to hug Soryan, whose right eye was bloodied and bruised.
His victory over Azerbaijan's Rovshan Bayramov will stoke hopes in Iran that they will bounce back from a poor showing in Beijing four years ago when their wrestlers came home with just one bronze.
Iran last won a wrestling Olympic gold medal at Sydney in 2000, on that occasion in the sport's freestyle discipline.
The Iranian is a five-time world champion, but had never before won an Olympic medal in one of the world's oldest sports.
"I'm hoping that I made everybody happy back home," he said. "My experience in Beijing was important and I used that experience to achieve this victory today."
Soryan comfortably won the final, taking the first two rounds without losing a point.
He had eased into the gold medal final in the lightest weight category without dropping a point in either his quarter-final bout with Hungary's Peter Modos or in his semi-final clash with Haakan Nyblom of Denmark.
It was the first of 18 medal events in the wrestling this week. Seven of those are in the Greco-Roman discipline, where competitors can only use their upper bodies and arms.
The second of the day's two gold medals went to Russian favourite Roman Vlasov in the 74kg category.
He beat Armenia's Arsen Julfalakyan in the 74kg final after surviving a scare in the quarter-finals when France's experienced Christophe Guenot came close to knocking him out of the competition in the final seconds of their bout.
The 21-year-old Russian somersaulted across the mat and then climbed on his trainer's shoulders to salute the crowd after adding the Olympic gold to the world championship title he won in Istanbul last year.
"I still can't quite believe it," Vlasov said. "It's just wonderful."
(Editing by Nigel Hunt)