David Taylor falls to Aaron Brooks

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — One of the biggest stars in American wrestling failed to qualify for the Summer Olympics.

In a shocking development, two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist David Taylor will miss the 2024 Paris Games after losing to Aaron Brooks on Saturday night at the Olympic Trials.

Taylor, 33, earned an automatic bye to the 86kg final thanks to his past performances, and only needed to win two of his three matches against Brooks to book his place on Team USA. But he stumbled in the first match on Saturday morning, losing 4-1, then 3-1.

Only one athlete from each country is allowed to compete in the Olympic Games.

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It was an almost unfathomable result for the wrestler known to fans as “The Magic Man,” arguably the most dominant wrestler in the United States over the past five years.

Prior to this weekend's Olympic Trials, Taylor had won 26 of 27 matches dating back to the start of 2019 and had outscored opponents by a combined score of 226-19. His only loss came in the 2021 World Championship final against his Iranian competitor, Hassan Yazdani. The two men were heavy favorites to face off again in Paris, likely with a gold medal on the line.

Instead, Taylor became the latest American star to be thwarted by the country's trials system, where even the most accomplished athletes are forced to earn their place.

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The fact that Taylor, a Penn State alumnus, lost in his college arena made Saturday's result even more surprising. Of course, his opponent was the Nittany Lion as well.

Brooks, 23, finished his collegiate career at Penn State with a fourth straight NCAA title and was the top-seeded wrestler in the Challenger tournament at the Olympic Trials. He almost survived confronting Taylor in the first place. In his last match on Friday, Brooks defeated Zahid Valencia 7-6, after being awarded a penalty point in the final seconds when the referee ruled that Valencia had pulled Brooks' shirt.

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