IOWA CITY — Thomas Gilman transformed “Stay clear while machine is use” from a catch phrase into a way of life.
His drive prevents satisfaction with silver, which is what he earned in his senior-level World Championships debut last fall less than six months removed from his career as a three-time All-American at the University of Iowa.
Even as he strives to be the world’s best competitor, he won’t be content with gold either. He’s simply not wired that way and a reason he has not been affected by the success at the end of 2017.
“It hasn’t changed,” said Gilman, a member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. “That’s the difference, I think, between me and a lot of people is, why would it change? Silver isn’t the goal. Gold isn’t even the goal. We try to get better every single day, so my life hasn’t changed. If it does change, that’s where you need to re-evaluate so nothing has changed.
“The training hasn’t changed. Maybe technically or mentally, you need to make adaptations but nothing has changed.”
Gilman will don the red, white and blue again, representing the country at the United World Wrestling World Cup of men’s freestyle Saturday and Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Action begins at 10 a.m. both days for the dual event, opening with Team USA against India.
Gilman is the 125.5-pound starter for USA Wrestling, coming off a team title at last year’s World Championships and looking for its first World Cup crown since 2003.
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Even though the World Championships is the marquee event of the season, the World Cup will have a similar level of talent.
“At this level, every tournament is tough, every opponent is tough,” said Gilman, who was second too Japan’s Yuki Takahashi in Paris in August. “I mean a lot of these same guys were in my bracket at the Worlds. It’s going to be a rematch against Japan in the finals of the World Championships.
“There is no difference. It’s just a different time of year. This has been marked on my calendar since the Worlds were over and I knew I was probably going to be on the team.”
Gilman could get that Worlds final rematch Saturday afternoon when Team USA faces Japan in pool competition. Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands has seen Gilman improve since that last contest.
“I think he knows something was left undone,” Brands said. “I think the growth piece is that as good and ready as he was in Paris that I’ve got to be even that much more because I was ready to win.
“If I’m Thomas Gilman, I’m thinking I was ready to win and I still had something left undone, so I’ve got to do an even better job of preparation and getting myself ready for that next level and this is a step in that.”
Gilman will serve a familiar role at CHA. He served as the lightweight spark for more than three years for the Hawkeyes. He will open duals for Team USA, which faces India, Japan and Georgia in pool A. Pool B will consist of Azerbaijan, Cuba, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
Even though Gilman is the type of fierce competitor that would wrestle on a blanket stretched out in someone’s backyard, wrestling at home has its benefits.
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“It definitely helps, sleeping in my own bed, having my own sauna, my own room and my teammates around,” Gilman said. “There is definitely a comfort to it, but I’m not a comfort kind of guy. Wherever I’m at I’m comfortable. I don’t get too comfortable anywhere, necessarily.
“It is nice but we don’t bank on that. We’re here to wrestle. Comfort goes out the window when you step on the mat. Everything else is irrelevant.”
USA Wrestling National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick has worked with Gilman, who has been a U.S. Junior and Cadet World team member as well. He said Gilman is a great athlete and person with a passion for knowledge.
“All the way back at that time he was a student of the sport,” said Zadick, a two-time All-American and NCAA titlist for Iowa. “He loves to learn. He loves to work hard, of course, and he’s very tough.
“We’re excited to have him, representing us. He’s done a great job, thus far. I expect great things out of him.”
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