ISTANBUL, Turkey – Exactly 21 days after winning the Olympic Trials, Spencer Lee is officially a member of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team that will compete this August, in Paris, France.

The 25-year-old wrestling out of Hawkeye Wrestling Club in Iowa City, Iowa, was all business on Saturday at the 2024 World Olympic Games Qualifier. Lee pitched a near-perfect game comprised of four dynamic wins on the top side of the 57 kg men’s freestyle bracket to become a finalist and earn one of the three remaining Olympic quotas in his weight class.

Three of Lee’s four contested matches ended by technical fall. The official finish times of these three bouts: 22, 53 and 35 seconds. This includes a 10-0 thrashing of Kazakhstan’s Rakhat Kalzhan, a two-time Asian Championships medalist, in the Olympic qualification bout held in front of a raucous crowd at Istanbul’s Başakşehir Gençlik ve Spor Tesisleri.

Pegged as the first Olympic qualification match of the evening session, Lee wasted no time in getting the crowd fired up. He connected on an outside fireman’s carry, dumping Kalzhan to his side, all the while locking up a lethal trapped-arm gut wrench. Four turns later and the rest, as they say, is history. Lee is on to Paris.

Wrestling through the opposite side of the 57 kg bracket was past U17 and U23 World champion and Aman Aman of India. Due to the unique format of this Olympic qualifying event, there will be no gold medal matches wrestled. Fans will have to wait until Paris for a potential Lee-Aman matchup.

In hindsight, Lee’s only legitimate test of the day came in his round-of-16 scrap with No. 1 seed Wanhao Zou of China. Lee held off a late-match flurry to defeat Zou, 10-9. Zou was a U23 World bronze medalist in 2018 and has finished in the top ten at the last two Senior World Championships.

Also on Lee’s hit list for the day were Ben Tarik of Morocco, who lasted 23 seconds, and 2020 European champion Vladimir Egorov of Macedonia, who made it the longest of the tech fall trio at 53 seconds.

The inevitability of this Olympic-sized moment has been lingering for Lee since his high school days. Lee won age-group World gold medals for the U.S. in three-straight years (2014-16), once at the U17 level and twice in the U20 division. He took seven years away from the international circuit to focus on his collegiate career with Iowa, where he was a three-time NCAA champion and two-time Dan Hodge Trophy winner.

Lee topped the 57 kg bracket at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials held in State College, Pa., with a championship series sweep of 2020 Olympic bronze medalist and past World champion Thomas Gilman.

Since returning to the Senior-level international circuit last November, Lee has posted an 18-0 record with 12 bonus-point wins. He has collected gold medals at the Bill Farrell Memorial International, U.S. Senior Nationals, Pan American Championships and U.S. Olympic Team Trials, in addition to his remarkable run in Istanbul. The only wrestlers able to keep Lee to a decision during this stretch have been Zou, Gilman, 2023 U.S. World Team member Zane Richards and 2016 NCAA champion Nico Megaludis.

The original post by Richard Immel can be found at: https://www.themat.com/news/2024/may/12/lee-earns-bid-to-paris-olympics-retherford-to-enter-wrestle-backs-at-world-olympic-games-qualifier