DORTMUND, Germany (July 1) – Wrestlers from traditional Greco-Roman powerhouses Finland and Sweden returned to the championship finals in the classic style for the first time in nearly a decade at the Junior European Wrestling Championships.
Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN) settled an old score with rival Artur SARGSYAN (RUS) on his way to the gold medal final at 96kg, while Ardit FAZLJIJA (SWE) rolled up three technical falls against three of Europe’s finer young wrestlers to book a place in the 60kg final.
Savolainen, who lost 8-0 to Sargsyan at the 2015 cadet world championships, hammered out a 2-1 win over his rival in the quarterfinals at Helmut Kornig Halle on Saturday. Savolainen then posted another 2-1 win over 2014 cadet world champ Vladen KOZLIUK (UKR) in the semifinals..
“(Savolainen) has been training very hard, so he’s more physical now,” coach Jarkko ALA-HUIKKU (FIN) said. “He has been making progress these recent years, step-by-step, because he has good motivation (to improve).”
With his win over Kozliuk, Savolainen faces Suleyman ERBAY (TUR) in Saturday evening’s finale and becomes the first Finnish finalist at the European junior championships since 2009, when Sasu KAASINEN (FIN) won the gold medal at 66kg in Tbilisi.
Fazljija, meanwhile, was lighting up his opponents at 60kg – wrapping up Fadis VALITOV (RUS) and Raphael JAEGER (AUT) in under 50 seconds each. In the semifinal, Fazljija threw Aleksander HRUSHYN (UKR), nearly pinning last year’s bronze medal winner, and then finishing him off with a pair of gut wrenches for the technical fall at 4:01.
Fazljija becomes Sweden’s first gold medal finalist at the Euro junior meet since 2010 when Alexander JERSGREN (SWE) took a silver medal at 74kg. Sweden’s last European junior champ was Eddy BENGTSSON (SWE), who won the gold medal at 130kg in Budapest in 1999.
In the 60kg final, Fazljija will square off with 2016 cadet world champion Leri ABULADZE (GEO), who also represented Georgia at the senior European championships in May – finishing seventh at 59kg.
Georgia was the only country to advance more than one wrestler into the gold medal finals Saturday. Ramaz SILIGAVA (GEO) came out on top of a wild semifinal, 14-11, with Cemal MUTLU (TUR) and will take on Zulfigar ALIYEV (AZE) for the gold medal.
At 74kg, Narek OGANIAN (RUS), who took a bronze medal at the senior Ivan Poddubny Tourney in January, will take on Elmar NURALIEV (UKR), a European cadet silver medalist in 2014.
Medal Final Pairings & Semifinal Results
50kg (16 entries)
Gold – Zulfigar ALIYEV (AZE) v Ramaz SILAGAVA (GEO)
Bronze – Atmir KOTCHEV (RUS) v Nikolai MOHAMMADI (DEN)
Bronze – Ashot MKHITARYAN (ARM) v Cemal MUTLU (TUR)
Semifinal – Zulfigar ALIYEV (AZE) df. Nikolai MOHAMMADI (DEN), 10-6
Semifinal – Ramaz SILAGAVA (GEO) df. Cemal MUTLU (TUR), 14-11
60kg (19 entries)
Gold – Leri ABULADZE (GEO) v Ardit FAZLJIJA (SWE)
Bronze – Teodor HORATAU (ROU) v Hrachya POGHOSYAN (ARM)
Bronze – Fadis VALITOV (RUS) v Aleksandr HRUSHYN (UKR)
Semifinal – Leri ABULADZE (GEO) df. Hrachya POGHOSYAN (ARM), 1-1
Semifinal – Ardit FAZLJIJA (SWE) df. Aleksandr HRUSHYN (UKR) by TF, 10-1, 4:01
74kg (22 entries)
Gold – Narek OGANIAN (RUS) v Elmar NURALIEV (UKR)
Bronze – Beka MAMUKASHVILI (GEO) v Dominik GEGENY (HUN)
Bronze – Krasimir KRUMOV (BUL) v Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM)
Semifinal – Narek OGANIAN (RUS) df. Dominik GEGENY (HUN) by TF, 9-0, 2:54
Semifinal – Elmar NURALIEV (UKR) df. Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM), 4-1
96kg (19 entries)
Gold – Suleyman ERBAY (TUR) v Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN)
Bronze – Damian VON EUW (SUI) v Giorgi BARBAKADZE (GEO)
Bronze – Artur SARGSYAN (RUS) v Vladen KOZLIUK (UKR)
Semifinal – Suleyman ERBAY (TUR) df. Giorgi BARBAKADZE (GEO), 6-2
Semifinal – Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN) df. Vladen KOZLIUK (UKR), 2-1