Award Season

2017 Comeback Wrestlers of the Year

By Eric Olanowski

After incredible comebacks in 2017, Jordan Burroughs (USA), Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (BLR), and Frank Staebler (GER) have earned the 2017 Comeback Wrestlers of the Year award.

74kg - Jordan Burroughs (USA)
Olympic gold medalist and four-time world champion Jordan Burroughs (USA) was coming off an Olympic Games where his hand was only raised once. Leaving Rio, Burroughs was slotted as the ninth best wrestler at the Olympic Games.

After surviving a scare from Ali SHABANAU (BLR) in round one of the World Championships, Burroughs rallied off two technical superiority victories to reach the 74kg semifinals. Burroughs avenged one of his two Rio losses, defeating Bekzod ABDURAKHMONOV (UZB), 6-5. In the finals, Khetik TSABOLOV (RUS) led with one minute remaining, but Burroughs tallied back-to-back takedowns to lock up the 9-6 win.

53kg - Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (BLR)
Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) won the 2012 World Championship at 48kg. Since then, her highest finish at a world championship came in 2014 where she finished in 25th place.

In the world finals, the five-time world team member found herself four points away from giving up a technical superiority victory to 2016 world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN). Kaladzinskaya outscored Mukaida 8-0 to capture her second world title.

71kg - Frank Staebler (GER)
Frank Staebler (GER), the 2015 world champion, went into Rio as one of the favorites to win the 66kg weight class. Staebler’s one win at the Olympic Games was only good enough for a seventh-place finish.

Up a weight, Staebler clearly wrestled with a chip on his shoulder in the 2017 World Championships. He knocked off 2015 world champion and Olympic bronze medalist Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE) in the second round. Staebler regained his world title by winning four additional matches, including an 8-3 win in the finals over Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ).