Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Olympic wrestler Jared Frayer of Clearwater disagrees with his doubters

LONDON — The wrestler who wasn't supposed to be here has turned into the wrestler who isn't supposed to win. Jared Frayer knows all about the doubts.

He simply disagrees with them.

Sunday, on the final day of the Olympics, he will get to prove his point.

There are underdogs, and there are dark horses, and there are athletes who beg the question of "Who is he?" Frayer, the 33-year-old Clearwater native who wrestled at Countryside High, isn't exactly the gold medal favorite in the 66-kilogram freestyle wrestling competition.

That said, it didn't seem to bother him after Tuesday's practice at the University of East London.

"I've done my best wrestling when I wasn't supposed to win," Frayer said Tuesday. "I don't think there is a journalist or a wrestling historian who gives me a chance. That's exciting to me. I enjoy being the dark horse. I have nothing to lose. I'm confident in all my abilities. I'm coming here to win.

"I've wrestled the best in the world. In the last two months, I've wrestled five guys who have placed in the last two, three world championships. I've lost one-point matches to them. It's just making that little switch be on that day to turn it around."

To many, it was surprising enough Frayer even qualified to get to the Olympics. In a field with Iran's Kermani Taghavi, a two-time world champion, and India's Sushil Kumar, a one-time world titlist, and Japan's Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu and Cuba's Lopez Azcuy, it's not surprising no one expects him to win.

"I expect me to win," Frayer said. "There is no doubt in my mind. I've made so much gain in the last month and a half."

Frayer seemed relaxed and happy. He spent much of Tuesday morning joking with Blake Chandler, a 19-year-old from Spring Hill who is attending the Olympics as part of the Children's Dream Fund. Chandler, a former high school wrestler at Nature Coast, had his left leg amputated in March because of cancer.

"This is incredible," Chandler said. "I've known who Jared is since my freshman year of high school."

Frayer isn't just adding fans. He has added a second daughter, too. Just before he left for London, Frayer's wife, Nicole Tycer-Frayer, gave birth to Beckett Olivia. Their first daughter, Chloe, is 19 months old.

It was fatherhood, Frayer said, that matured him to the point that he finally made it through the Olympic trials. He was fifth in 2008, sixth in 2004.

"I just wasn't mentally ready," he said.

Fatherhood will do that for a man. Frayer's older daughter, Chloe, has Down syndrome.

"She's a ball of fire," Frayer said. "Just hearing her when I'm calling my wife. I love Skyping her. She's nonstop smiling. She struggles, but she makes it work her way. She's just a joy, so easy to love."

Doctors had told Frayer there was a higher chance than normal his second daughter might have Down syndrome, too. That didn't deter him or his wife.

"If God wanted us to have a second child with Down's, we were willing to accept the responsibility," Frayer said.

Frayer was fortunate. He got to spend most of two days with Beckett before leaving. That isn't much time, but it beats the original plan, which was to watch her birth via Skype while at the Olympics.

Now, all Frayer has to do is win to give his newborn a very, very shiny teething ring.

"To everyone else, it would be a pretty big upset if I won," Frayer said. "To me, not so much. I've wrestled a million matches and won thousands of them. I just need to win four or five more."

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