European Championship Preview

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)
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 - page4image515539072Semi 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


Chamizo Wins Clash Against Gazimagomedov, Claims Fourth European Title

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 16) --- Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) dramatically claimed his fourth European title in front of a friendly Italian crowd on Sunday. He scored the match-deciding takedown with under 25 seconds left to defeat fellow two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3. 

After winning his fourth European gold medal, Chamizo said this win was the sweetest because it was in front of his hometown Italian fans. “This (European title) is the best. It’s in my home; It’s the best,” he said. “European people say Italy doesn’t know about wrestling. Today, everyone was here to support me, and that’s amazing. I want to say thank you to the Italian people for coming.”

Chamizo entered the European Championships ranked No. 2 in the world, trailing reigning two-time world champion Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) by 20 points. He grabbed the 22-point gold medal and is the new top-ranked wrestler in the world at 74kg. 

“I’m wrestling in Poland. It’s a Ranking Series tournament and I want to come into (the Olympic Games) ranked No. 1,” he said. 

In the finals, Chamizo scored an inactivity point in the first period, but conceded a left-sided single leg and fell behind 2-1. 

In the second period, the Italian superstar fought off a near-takedown on the edge, and luckily for him, the refs awarded Gazimagomedov the one-point stepout point and not the two-point takedown, putting the Russian in front, 3-1. Chamizo, who trailed by two points, snapped Gazimagomedov to the mat and spun behind, but the Russian kicked out and surrendered the stepout point.

Chamizo trailed 3-2 when he jammed Gazimagomedov’s double-leg attempt with his heavy hips and spun behind for the match deciding takedown. “I knew he was coming. He needed to take my legs to win, he said. “If you want, you can come. I have a surprise for you.”

But there was still time on the clock and Chamizo nearly threw the match away with 10 seconds left. 

He gave up a single leg and was one second away from giving up the stepout. Chamizo held Gazimagomedov off long enough to defend his European crown from last year and win his fourth continental title. “The outside people say the match is too close. But, when you know you’ve trained good, you can do whatever you want.” 

After the award ceremony, Chamizo stated he believes that Gazimagomedov is a lot better than the man that beat him in last year’s world finals, Zaurbek Sidakov. “(Sidakov) is a cool guy, and he’s training good, but I think (Gazimagomedov) is much better than him,” Chamizo said. “Look, (Sidakov and I) wrestled in 2018, and my training was about 50%. I didn’t perform. It was the same thing in 2019. My knee and ankle weren’t good. Right now, I’m good. But, where is (Sidakov)?”
After winning the Ivan Yariguin title, Gazimagomedov stated a similar opinion as Chamzio. He 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.”

As it sits now, Sidakov is the top choice to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. But, Gazimagomedov’s Yariguin win and European silver-medal finish further his case that he deserves at least a wrestle-off to show just how worthy of a competitor he is. 

Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) attacks Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) in the 61kg European finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Bogomoev and Naifonov Close out Team-Title Run for Russia 
Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) and Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) reeled in gold medals and helped the Russian Federation lock up the freestyle team title. Russia finished with 186 points, which was 70 points ahead of second-place Azerbaijan and 91 points ahead of third-place Georgia. 

Bogomoev defeated the reigning world champion and the returning European champion en route to the 61kg gold medal. His win on Sunday added Russia’s dominating lightweight performance in which they won gold in the first three weight classes. 

Bogomoev joined lightweights Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) and Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS), who won the 57kg and 65kg gold medals, respectively. 

Bogomoev scored a last-second takedown against returning European champion Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) and moved into the finals with the 5-5 criteria win. He closed his run to the non-Olympic weight gold medal with a one-point win over returning world champion Beka LOMTADZE (GEO). 

In the finals, Bogomoev commanded a convincing 3-0 lead midway through the second period. He scored an inactivity point, then capitalized on a high crotch while he was on the shot clock. He gave up a second-period takedown, which cut his lead to one point. Bogomoev fought off a flurry of Georgian attacks and won his second European title and first defeating Lomtadze in the 2015 European Games. 

Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) finishes a shot on Myles AMINE (SMR) in the 86kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Artur Naifonov was the second Russian of the day and fifth of the tournament to claim European gold. He stopped Myles AMINE (SMR) from becoming the first athlete from San Marino to ever win a European title with a 4-0 shutout win in the 86kg finals. 

In the gold-medal match, Naifonov scored three stepouts and an inactivity point and won his second European title and first since winning the 2018 crown in Dagestan, Russia. 

Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) carries the Turkish flag around the mat after defeating Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) in the 92kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Karadeniz and Petriashvili Claim Final Two European Golds 
Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) claimed the final two golds of the European Championships. 

At 92kg, Karadeniz stopped Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) from ending Switzerland’s 85-year freestyle continental gold-medal drought. 

Karadeniz snuck behind Scherrer and nearly scored the matches first takedown but ran out of real estate and collected the inactivity point. He picked up another stepout, then tacked on an inactivity point and claimed his first European title with a 3-0 shutout victory. 

Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) won his second European title with an 11-0 win over Robert BARAN (POL) in the 125kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Petriashvili stopped Robert BARAN (POL) for the second time in the European finals and won his second European title. The three-time world champion ended the match in the first period after scoring the 11-0 technical superiority victory. His 11 points came from a stepout, two takedowns and three gut wrenches.

BRONZE - Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Georgios PILIDIS (GRE), via injury default 
BRONZE - Nikolai OKHLOPKOV (ROU) df. Intigam VALIZADA (AZE), 3-1 

GOLD - Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3 
BRONZE -  Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) df. Miroslav KIROV (BUL), via fall 

GOLD - Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR), 4-0 
BRONZE - Boris MAKOEV (SVK) df. Akhmed Adamovitch MAGAMAEV (BUL), 6-5 

GOLD - Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) df. Samuel SCHERRER (SUI), 3-0 
BRONZE - Aslanbek ALBOROV (AZE) df. Irakli MTSITURI (GEO), 2-0 
BRONZE - Amarhajy MAHAMEDAU (BLR) df. Marzpet GALSTYAN (ARM), 7-0 

GOLD - Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) df. Robert BARAN (POL), 11-0 
BRONZE - Levan BERIANIDZE (ARM) df. Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 2-2