August 24, 2004 7:45 pm
Wood vows to improve at Beijing Games
ATHENS, Greece - Sgt. Oscar Wood has assigned himself mental marching orders after being knocked out of the Olympics.
Wood, the former Oregon State standout in the U.S. Army, lost all three of his Greco-Roman wrestling matches at 145.5 pounds on Tuesday during pool competition at Ano Liossia Olympic Hall.
The 29-year-old said his lack of international experience cost him, as he was outscored, 25-6.
But Wood plans to use the mat as his classroom as he aims for the 2006 Games in Beijing.
``I'm definitely thinking four years,'' Wood said. ``I'm a long ways from being my best.''
Wood fell to Greece's Konstantinos Arkoudeas (9-3), Germany's Jannis Zamanduridis (5-2) and Kazakhstan's Mkkhitar Manukyan (11-1).
``I don't think that those guys are that much better than me,'' Wood said. ``I just think they're that much smarter than me right now.''
Wood joined the Army's World Class Athlete Program, which supports military athletes as they train for events that qualify for Olympic competition.
A few months ago, Wood re-enlisted for four years and plans to continue as an Army athlete, but is prepared to do whatever is asked of him as a petroleum supply specialist.
``I'm a soldier first and I knew that the day I signed up,'' he said.
Wood dug himself a deep hole early in his first match.
Against Arkoudeas, Wood tried to score early against his Greek opponent but got caught for points in the opening 25 seconds. He never recovered in that match -- or the rest of the day.
``I came out and tried a junior high move,'' Wood said. ``And that don't work at the Olympics.''
Wood said the presence of 24 family members in the stands affected his match.
``I got caught up in the moment and tried too many things,'' he said. ``They're great support. Too bad I couldn't show them nothing.''
In the every-point-counts world of Greco-Roman, Wood said he ended up being too aggressive too soon.
``It's all a chess game and I went out and put all my stuff right on the table before it even started,'' he said. ``It's just experience.''
Wood vowed to stay in international wrestling for a long time, but said the pain of his Olympic debut will linger.
``I guess I'm an Olympian,'' he said. ``I don't really feel like much right now. I didn't do nothing here.''
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COMMENTARY AND PERSPECTIVE
MIKE LOPRESTI | Gannett News Service
IAN O'CONNOR | The (Westchester, N.Y.) Journal News
CHRISTINE BRENNAN | USA TODAY
DAN BICKLEY | The Arizona Republic
LYNN HENNING | The Detroit News
BOB KRAVITZ | The Indianapolis Star
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