COLUMBIA — Klayton Anderson won all three of his matches to earn a gold medal in his return to the Show-Me State Games youth wrestling competition Saturday at the Hearnes Center.
Klayton, a 13-year-old who had missed last year's competition after suffering a brain injury, had earned bronze in his last appearance at the competition in 2010.
"It feels good," Klayton said, reflecting on how far he’s come. "Two years ago, I had the bronze, and now I have the gold."
The 201o competition was his first after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a disease that probably caused him to lose much of the sight in his left eye. He missed last year's event after a freak collision on a baseball field left him bleeding in two spots of his brain.
"There were lots of tears over it," his mother, Sara Anderson, said. "I’m excited that we’re kind of past that phase and ready to move on and participate."
Klayton’s first match Saturday in the 91-to 95-pound division was a hard-earned 6-0 decision over the wrestler who ended up earning the silver medal.
"I think he was probably the best guy in the bracket," said Klayton, who added that Saturday’s competition was much more difficult than he remembered it being in 2010. "I just got the better of him."
Klayton’s 7-2 victory in his next match sealed the gold.
His third match didn’t mean anything to the standings, but it was important to the wrestler whose personality, his coaches said, is one of hard work and determination.
It took only about a minute and a half after the third match started for Klayton to get his opponent on his stomach and trapped. Then, in a quick, fluid motion, Klayton gripped the arms of his opponent from behind and pinned him for his third victory of the day.
Sara Anderson said Klayton showed the passion that made her son’s return to wrestling possible.
"He just has a drive that will not quit," she said. "That’s what’s going to make him successful in life, and that’s what’s making him successful in sports. He won’t give up."
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.