Winning a Medal at the Olympics

Kurt Angle wins the gold medal in 1996. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

At the 2012 Olympic Games, there will be 72 medals on the line for wrestling. 18 of them will be gold, 18 of them will be silver, and the remaining 36 are bronze medals.

The 18 different tournaments taking place can best be divided into three categories. Men's Greco-Roman Wrestling has seven weight classes as does Men's Freestyle Wrestling. The other four tournaments are for Women's Freestyle Wrestling which has four weight classes.

Winning a gold medal or silver medal is an easily explained process. A wrestler first has to qualify for the round of 16 by winning a qualifying match if necessary. Then a victory in the round of 16, quarterfinal round, and semi-final round guarantees a wrestler either a gold or silver medal. The winner of the final round match of the tournament gets the gold while the loser gets a silver medal.

The process for winning a bronze medal is slightly more complicated. Because the tournament bracket is done by a blind draw, it is possible that the two best wrestlers will compete against one another before the final round happens. Taking this into account, each of the 18 gold medal tournaments has two repechage tournaments for the bronze. The concept of two bronze medals per weight class is relatively new and began with the 2008 Games.

When a wrestler loses their bout, their day is not over. They have to root for the person that just beat them to make it to the final round because every wrestler that lost to either the gold or silver medalist gets to compete for a bronze medal.

There are two repechage tournaments for each weight class. The wrestlers that lost to the first final round competitor compete in one tournament while the wrestlers that lost to the other final round competitor compete in another tournament.

The first two competitors that lost the their respective finalist wrestle each other first in the tournament.

The winner of that match goes onto wrestle the next person that their finalist beat. That process continues until you get to the person that lost in the semi-finals. The winner of that match gets a bronze medal.

Top Half of the Bracket
Round 1: Wrestler 1 beats Wrestler 8, Wrestler 2 beats Wrestler 7, Wrestler 3 beats Wrestler 6, Wrestler 4 beats Wrestler 5
Round 2: Wrestler 1 beats Wrestler 4, Wrestler 2 beats Wrestler 3
Semi-Final: Wrestler 1 beats Wrestler 2
As a result: Wrestler 1 goes on to compete for the gold medal against a wrestler from the other half of the tournament (Wrestlers 9 - 16)
The Competitors eligible to enter the repechage for this bracket are: Wrestlers 8, 4, and 2 since they all lost to Wrestler 1.
Wrestler 8 will battle Wrestler 4 in the first round of the repechage. The winner of that match will compete against Wrestler 2. The winner of that match wins one of the two bronze medals available in that weight class. The process would be done again for wrestlers 9-16 to see who earns the second bronze medal.