After a long bout with a pestering knee injury, Spencer Lee returned to action at last year’s Bill Farrell Memorial in New York, which he went on to win. At last month’s US Olympic Trials too, the Iowa student won the 57kg bracket. However, with the US still to qualify in the weight class, Lee has to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, to secure his place in Team USA for the upcoming Paris Games. But dark clouds loom on the horizon.

Lee will be facing some tough competition at the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier, scheduled to kick off tomorrow (May 9) in Istanbul. The entry list is staked and Spencer needs to be in his best condition. However, the three-time NCAA champ’s tryst with injuries could make or break his ambitions.

After winning the 57kg weight class at the Bryce Jordan Center last month, Lee also stated, “I’m still not healthy but I’m healthy enough to wrestle“, hinting that his wobbly feet are yet to find the firm ground beneath them. Thomas Gilman, fellow Iowan and the opponent Lee trounced to win the Olympic Trials will also travel to Istanbul as a training partner. But if Spencer’s injury once again pops up at the last moment, it’s hard to tell how things will pan out for Team USA in the Turkish tournament. Notably, injury has clipped Lee’s dreams on several occasions.


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Spencer Lee medically forfeited from the NCAA Championships last year. He suffered an upsetting loss to No. 4 seed Matt Ramos from Purdue in the semifinals at 125 pounds on that occasion. After that, he decided to medically forfeit out of the tournament. That ended Lee’s quest to become Iowa’s first 4-time national champion. However, Lee has also shown the grit to cruise through them while having been a 2x US national champion. Despite taking everything into account, Lee will surely have to pull up his socks, and fast, especially with all the names who will look to trample all over him at the Başakşehir Gençlik ve Spor Tesisleri.

A beefy list of opponents waiting for the Iowa star

The 57kg bracket is full of heavyweight names who all have the potential to make it to Paris. Among them, Aman Sherawat is probably the biggest obstacle on Lee’s way to the banks of the Seine. The 2023 U23 World Champion from India has several major victories over international wrestling stars, including Muhammet Karavus and Suleyman Atli. At the 2024 Zagreb Open, Sherawat subdued America’s Zane Richards, thanks to his incredible technical prowess. Aman is sure to bring all of his hostility to Istanbul in hopes of making it to the 2024 Olympics, and if Lee doesn’t pull out of the competition, he needs to do his homework.

Furthermore, the 2021 World Championships silver medalist Alireza Sarlak of Iran and his signature underhook can also pose a major problem for the USA’s 57kg dreams. Turkey’s very own Muhammet Karavus is another formidable opponent and won’t cede his ground to the Americans easily. Now, it’s to be seen what fate has in store for the Hawkeye icon and whether his debut Olympics finally happens or if he needs to take his exit under the radar.