Belgrade, Serbia – The greats compete with freedom and gratitude. They go all in, all the time, to chase greatness.
Zain Retherford, already an NCAA Wrestling legend and three-time World Team member, established himself as one of the best 70kg freestyle wrestlers in the world. Retherford captured his first medal on the world stage by battling his way to the finals of a grueling bracket in Belgrade last week. En route to the finals and securing his first World medal, Retherford personified dominance by winning his first four bouts without surrendering a single point.
Retherford burst on to the domestic freestyle scene in 2017 by making his first World Team while he was still in college. Two years later, Retherford further established himself as one of USA’s premier middleweights by making his second World Team, this time by winning five consecutive bouts against NCAA champions. Both of his first two World Championships appearances ended shy of a medal, but Retherford’s desire to compete continued to fuel his ascent.
Heartbreak at the 2020 Olympic Trials acted as a catalyst to send Zain to even greater heights. Up a weight at 70kg and competing with a renewed sense of freedom, Retherford navigated a gauntlet of domestic competition to earn his third World Team spot this spring and an eventual World silver medal.
Love of competition has been the defining characteristic of Zain’s greatness. It’s also common to hear him mention how blessed he feels just to be able to do what he loves.
At 27, Zain has established himself as a staple of Team USA’s lineup and a serious contender on the world stage. In a manner truly indicative of someone who loves the sport, he remains all in, all the time. The next opportunity awaits in Krasnoyarsk, RUS, at the 2023 World Championships. One can be certain that Retherford will be there, grateful for another opportunity to compete.
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