European Championship Preview
Sunday, February 9, 2020 - 18:20 By Eric Olanowski
ROME, Italy (February 10) --- Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) is on the verge of locking up the No. 1 seed at the Olympic Games if he completes his journey to a sixth European title in as many tries.
Sadulaev is ranked first in the world at 97kg and can add 20 points in Rome with a gold-medal performance, cementing his spot as the top-seeded wrestler at the Olympic Games. He’d have 80 Ranking Series points, which would block a potential comeback by second-ranked Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), who is sitting out of the European Championships.
Sadulaev will have to get through a loaded pool of top-10 talent to improve on his perfect 21-0 European record.
The three top-ten ranked wrestlers tasked with stopping ‘The Russian Tank” from summiting to the top of the European podium for the sixth time are No. 4 Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD), No. 6 Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) and No. 9 Nicolai CEBAN (MDA). Sadualev heads into the European Championships with at least one career win over the three and has outscored them by a combined 61-0 in their previous seven meetings.
Top-20 Freestyle Entries at 97kg
No. 4 Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) - 25 points
No. 6 Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) - 20 points
No. 9 Nicolai CEBAN (MDA) - 16 points
No. 12 Murazi MCHEDLIDZE (UKR) - 14 points
No. 14 Abraham CONYEDO RUANO (ITA) - 12 points
No. 15 Pavel OLEJNYIK (HUN) - 12 points
Kayaalp in Search of European Title Number Ten
Riza KAYAALP (TUR) is closing in on winning his tenth European title (European Championships: 8; European Games: 1) and locking up the 130kg top seed at the Olympic Games. The Turkish big man has appeared in ten consecutive European finals, claiming gold in nine of those trips. His lone loss came in 2011 against Khassan BAROEV (RUS).
Kayaalp can cement his spot as the top seed with a win this week and have the luxury of sitting out of the Poland Open.
The reemergence of Mijian LOPEZ (CUB) after a three-year absence is set to play a big role in Kayaalp earning the top spot. Lopez will return to the mat later this year to try to chase a fourth Olympic gold medal. Lopez’s return will eventually knock out fellow Cuban and second-ranked Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB) from the 130kg rankings.
Without Hinds in the rankings, and with a max of 40 possible points left to earn over the continental championships and the Poland Open, Kayaalp only needs to claim 12 points at the European Championships to become the No. 1 seed in Tokyo.
That means the man who has reached the European finals in ten straight trips only needs to finish top-seven to sit atop the 130kg when the Olympics roll around. But it’s safe to say, Kayaalp isn’t chasing a top-seven finish, he’s in pursuit of a tenth European gold medal.
Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) could meet fellow two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS) in the 74kg bracket. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)
Two-time World Champions Chamizo and Gazimagomedov Entered at 74kg
A last-second change to the Russian lineup jeopardized a potential 74kg matchup between a pair of two-time world champions. Luckily for wrestling fans, Russia’s depth at the weight allowed them to replace No. 1 Zaurbek SIDAKOV (USA) with Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS).
That last-minute lineup change preserved the likelihood of Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) meeting a fellow two-time world champion in Rome.
Chamizo won the pairs only other meeting, 11-5, at the 2017 Ali Aliev Tournament. But this time around, there's much more at stake for both guys, especially with it being an Olympic year.
For Chamizo, a European title on home soil will push him to the top of the world rankings. He’s ranked second in the world with 40 points. He’ll gain the two-point advantage over Sidakov if he were to win the 22-point gold medal in Rome.
Gazimagomedov won the Ivan Yariguin a few weeks ago and hopes the European Championships will prove that he should be Russia’s Olympic Games representative. After winning the Yariguin, Gazimagomedov said, “In Russia, many understand that I will win against Sidakov, but perhaps we will not be allowed to meet on the mat because we don’t have a very transparent selection system.”
If Gazimagomedov wins in Rome, it’ll prove to the Russian coaching staff that he belongs in the conversations as a top-tier candidate to represent Russia at 74kg in Tokyo.
Top-15 Freestyle Entries at 74kg
No. 2 Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) - 40 points
No. 8 Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV (AZE) - 16 points
No. 10 Murad KURAMAGOMEDOV (HUN) - 14 points
No. 11 Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) - 14 points
No. 2 Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) can tie Musa EVLOEV (RUS) for the No. 1 ranking at 97kg with a win in Rome. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)
Aleksanyan Looking to Tie Evloev for World Top Spot at 97kg
The 97kg Greco-Roman rankings will undoubtedly see significant changes after the conclusion of the European Championships.
The European bracket will house seven of the world’s top-ten ranked wrestlers. Top-ranked Musa EVLOEV (RUS) and No. 6 Giorgi MELIA (GEO) will not compete in Rome and are the only European wrestlers ranked inside the top-ten that will sit out of the competition.
Evloev’s absence leaves the door wide open for No. 2 Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) to close the gap in the rankings. Aleksanyan trails Evloev by 20 points in the latest rankings. He will tie the Russian two-time defending world champion if he wins the 20-point gold medal. But he’ll still trail on criteria because of the Evloev’s higher placement at the World Championships, which could potentially force him to wrestle at the Poland Open.
Outside of Aleksanyan, there are six other worthy competitors at 97kg who are only separated by ten points, which is guaranteed to cause seismic changes in the rankings when the new month rolls around.
Top-Ten Greco-Roman Entries at 97kg
No. 2 Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) - 40 points
No. 3 Mélonin NOUMONVI (FRA) - 26 points
No. 4 Mihail KAJAIA (SRB) - 25 points
No. 5 ILDEM Cenk (TUR) - 25 points
No. 7 Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL) - 20 points
No. 9 Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) - 18 points
No. 10 Artur OMAROV (CZE) - 16 points
Emilia VUC (ROU) can take over top billing at 50kg with ten Ranking Series points at the European Championships. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)
Vuc Likely to take over Top Billing at 50kg
Barring a catastrophic meltdown, Emilia VUC (ROU) will surpass Mariya STADNIK (AZE) for the top billing at 50kg with a top-eight finish at the European Championships.
Vuc is ranked second in the world and trails Stadnik by six points heading into the continental championships. She started the year with 40 points but tacked on an additional 14 Ranking Series points with her second-place finish at the Matteo Pellicone in mid-January.
The two-time world runner-up needs to finish at least eighth in Rome to collect the all-important ten Ranking Series points. She’ll push herself four points ahead of Stadnik for the top-billing at 50kg heading into the Poland Open.
Top-Ten Women’s Wrestling Entries at 50kg
No. 2 Emilia Alina VUC (ROU) - 54 points
No. 3 Oksana LIVACH (UKR) - 32 points
No. 7 Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR) - 18 points
Staebler Moving up to 72kg for European Championships
Frank STAEBLER (GER) entered the European Championships at 72kg and not 67kg, the weight in which he qualified Germany for the Olympic Games with a bronze-medal finish in Nur-Sultan.
Staebler has had the most success of his career at 72kg and is extremely familiar with the weight. He’ll move back up to the weight where he won two of his three world titles. Most recently, he won the 72kg world title at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Davor STEFANEK (SRB) and Adam KURAK (RUS) are the two stars with enough firepower and experience to stop Staebler from winning his second career European title.
Stefanek, a Rio Olympic champion, is returning to competition for the first time since the 2018 World Championships. He dropped his 2018 world finals match against Artem SURKOV (RUS) and sat out the entire 2019 season.
Kurak, a two-time European champion, is also entered at 72kg. He’s returning to the mat for the first time since winning the City of Sassari Ranking Series event in May of last year.
Harutyunyan Moving Back up to 61kg to Challenge Lomtazde
Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) downed Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) in an unforgettable 28-point shootout and stole the European gold medal from the eventual 61kg world champion. The young Armenian fell behind 8-0 midway through the opening period, but outscored Lomtadze 17-3 and claimed his first continental title.
Harutyunyan moved down to the Olympic weight of 57kg after his European title run, but after a disappointing 15th-place finish at the World Championships, he’s moved back up the 61kg. Harutyunyan’s move back up to 61kg could set up a potential rematch between the reigning world champion and the reigning European champion.
Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS) is on a quest to knock off his second Rio Olympic champion in the past three weeks. (Photo: Gabor Martin)
Can Shiraev Take Down Second Rio Olympic Champion?
Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS) is on a quest to knock off a Rio Olympic champion for the second consecutive tournament.
Shiraev won the Ivan Yariguin with a last-second takedown over Rio Olympic champion Soslan RAMONOV (RUS) and earned the right to represent Russia at 65kg at the European Championships. The 20-year-old Russian enters his first senior-level European Championships eyeing a second win over an Olympic gold medalist. He’ll share the 65kg bracket with Rio Olympic champion Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO). The European Championships mark the first time that the pair have been in the same bracket as each other.
Top-Ten Freestyle Entries at 65kg
No. 4 Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) - 25 points
No. 5 Selahattin KILICSALLAYAN (TUR) - 24 points
Taybe Mustafa YUSEIN (BUL) is one of nine returning women's wrestling European champions. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)
Nine Women’s Wrestling Champions Returning
There are nine returning women’s wrestling European champions that’ll look to defend their 2019 titles. Emese BARKA (HUN) is the lone returning champion that’ll sit out of the six-day competition in Rome.
2019 European Champions
50kg - Oksana LIVACH (UKR)
53kg - Stalvira ORSHUSH (RUS)
53kg - Iryna HUSYAK (UKR)
59kg - Bilyana Zhivkova DUDOVA (BUL)
62kg - Taybe Mustafa YUSEIN (BUL)
65kg - Elis MANOLOVA (AZE)
68kg - Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR)
72kg - Alina BEREZHNA STADNIK MAKHYNIA (UKR)
76kg - Yasemin ADAR (TUR)
Sunday (February 9)
17.00 - Technical conference – all GR teams / Draw GR – All weight categories
Monday (February 10)
8:30 - Medical examination & Weigh-in GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
17:15 - Opening Ceremony
18:00 - Semi Final GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
Tuesday (February 11)
8:30 - Weigh-in GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in GR – 60-67-72-72-82-97kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
11:30 - Repechage GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
15:30 - Technical conference – all WW teams
15:30 -Draw WW – All weight categories
16:45 - Semi Final GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
18: 00 - Finals GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
18: 00 - Award ceremonies
Wednesday (February 12)
8:30 - Weigh-in GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
11:30 - Repechage GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
16:45 - Semi Final WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
18: 00 - Finals GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
18: 00 - Award ceremonies
Thursday (February 13)
8:30 - Weigh-in WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
11:30 - Repechage WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
14:00 - Technical conference – all FS teams
14:00 - Draw FS – All weight categories
16:45 - Semi Final WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
18: 00 - Finals WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
18: 00 - Award ceremonies
Friday (February 14)
8:30 - Weigh-in WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
8:45 - Medical examination & Weigh-in FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
11:30 - Repechage WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
16:45 - Semi Final FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
18: 00 - Finals WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
18: 00 -Award ceremonies
Saturday (February 15)
8:30 - Weigh-in FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
8:45 - Medical Examination & Weigh-in FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
11:30 - Repechage FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
16:45 - Semi Final FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
18:00 - Finals FS – 57-65-70-79-97kg
18: 00 -Award ceremonies
Sunday (February 16)
8:30 - Weigh-in FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
16:00 - Repechage FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
18: 00 - Finals FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
18: 00 -Award ceremonies
21:30 - Final banquet