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Varner followed in his coach’s golden footsteps with an Olympic championship

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Updated: August 12, 2012

LONDON, England — Go ahead Jake Varner … smile … you are an Olympic champion.

Even the normally subdued native of Bakersfield, Calif., admitted he had to crack a grin after he defeated Ukrainian Valerii Andriitsev for the championship at 211.5 pounds in men’s freestyle.

“I think I smiled more than I usually do,” said Varner who scored one point in every period to shutout his finals opponent. “It’s exciting for me to have my family here.

I’ll probably drink some chocolate milk.”

Varner has never been one to get caught up in other people’s opinions or ways to do things, including wrestling.

The one person who definitely matters to Varner is Cael Sanderson, who became more of a role model for Varner, who was first recruited by the only man to win every match and four NCAA championships at Iowa State and a 2004 gold medal for the U.S. in freestyle wrestling.

“It’s awesome,” who eventually got lifted by Sanderson in celebration. “(Sanderson) was an Olympic champion. I’m an Olympic champion now. I’m not sure if I’m in his league. It’s awesome to be coached by a guy like that and thank him for everything. I owe him a lot.”

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