Makhmudov Sends Home Crowd into Frenzy with Victory over Zhadrayev in 72kg Greco Thriller

By Ken Marantz

With the crowd at fever pitch as the seconds ticked down, Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) managed to preserve his slim lead and give the host country its much-awaited first gold medal of the Asian Championships.

One volunteer said it sparked "a national celebration."

Makhmudov, a world junior silver medalist a year ago, introduced himself to the senior level by forging an 8-6 win over Paris 2017 world silver medalist Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) in the 72kg final of Greco-Roman on the second day at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace.

"The biggest help for me was that the Kyrgyz people screamed for me to be strong and also to do better," Makhmudov told the Kyrgyz media of the thunderous roar from the crowd.

"When I heard it, I thought, 'I can die here on the floor but I will still win. This win will be for them.'"

The other head-to-head clash in a final between the hosts and Kazakhstan was a more staid affair and ultimately went the latter's way, as Askhat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) edged Atabek AZISBEKOV (KGZ) 5-2 for the 82kg gold.

Kazakhstan earlier picked up the gold at 67kg when veteran Almat KEBISPAYEV, a three-time world medalist, captured his first Asian title since 2010 by outclassing Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA (JPN) 5-1.

Even so, in the end, it was Kyrgyzstan's day to shine as the hosts claimed the team by title by a single point over neighbor Kazakhstan with 157. Uzbekistan finished third with 146, seven points ahead of Japan. Traditional powerhouse Iran won three golds but had little else to show for its efforts and placed fifth with 129.

Kyrgyzstan picked up two bronze medals on the night to one for Kazakhstan, but much of the credit for the team championship will surely go to Makhmudov.

In the final, Makhmudov bounced back after giving up an early 4-point throw by ripping off a spectacular 5-point hip throw of his own. He added a takedown just before the first-period buzzer to take a 7-4 lead into the break.

Zhadrayev bravely fought on as the decibel level of the crowd steadily rose. He scored two points from step-outs but then gave up a passivity point.

From the par terre position, Makhmudov had a chance to put the match away but failed to turn the Kazakh over, keeping the lead at 2 with a minute to go. In an intense finish, Makhmudov held on for a victory that drove the crowd into a frenzy.

"I couldn't make use of my chances," Zhadrayev said. "I made mistakes in tactics."

For Shinobu OTA (JPN), there was no way he was going to let the chance to win the only Asian medal missing from his collection get away--particularly since he had to beat the world champion just to get the opportunity.

Ota, a Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist, captured the 60kg gold with a victory by technical fall over teen RI Se Ung (PRK). Ota ended the match 20 seconds into the second period with a highlight-reel---at least he wants it to be---4-point throw from a front head lock that made the score 11-2.

Ota added the gold in Bishkek to the silver he won in 2014 and bronze in 2015. He missed last year's tournament in New Delhi after losing out to Kenichiro FUMITA for the place on Japan's team. Fumita went on to win the world title.

"I beat last year's world champion Kenichiro Fumita to make the Japan team to these Asian Championships, so I came with the mindset that I couldn't lose," Ota said.

o"Also, if I wrestled solidly, I was confident I wouldn't lose. I prepared well in training. If I get to the world championships and can continue like this, I can win the title."

After receiving a point for passivity and starting from the par terre position, Ota used his favored front head lock, only to be stopped midway through a roll to give Ri two points. But Ota continued to press on, and reeled off three rolls to take a 7-2 lead into the second period.

"I wanted to end it there but the opponent was strong," Ota said. "Even though I didn't put him away, it was good that I could use a move I worked on in practice. It's the move I have the most confidence in."

He used it once more, this time from a standing position. Latching on from the front again, Ota bridged backward to flip the North Korean over him and conclude the match.

"I was aiming to make it onto the 'Big Move'," Ota said half-jokingly, referring to UWW site's highlighted move. "I wanted to do it so the UWW would show it (around the world)."

Meanwhile, Sayedmostafa SALEHIZADEH (IRI) salvaged some Iranian pride when he grinded out a 4-0 victory in the 97kg final over Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB), giving him a second straight Asian gold.

Iran's only other shot at a medal on the day ended with Shirzad Ali BEHESHTITALA (IRI) losing by fall to Kanybek ZHOLCHUBEKOV (KGZ) in their 60kg bronze-medal match.

Uzbekistan came away with three bronze medals, while China, Japan, South Korea and India had one each.

60kg (11 entries)
Gold - Shinobu OTA (JPN) df. RI Se Ung (PRK) by TF, 11-2, 2:40

Bronze –  Kanybek ZHOLCHUBEKOV (KGZ) df. Shirzad Ali BEHESHTITALA (IRI) by Fall, 0:33 (10-3)
Bronze – Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. LIN Yu Hung (TPE) by TF, 8-0, 4:54

67kg (12 entries)
Gold - Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ) df. Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA (JPN), 5-1

Bronze –  Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB) df. Manish MANISH (IND), 6-4
Bronze – ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN) df. Seydylla TAZAYEV (TKM), 6-0

72kg (12 entries)
Gold - Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) df. Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ), 8-6

Bronze –  Aram VARDANYAN (UZB) df. JIANG Yuan (CHN) by TF, 9-0, 3:27.
Bronze – Tomohiro INOUE (JPN) df. Kuldeep MALIK (IND) by Fall, 0:59 (11-0)

82kg (10 entries)
Gold - Askhat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) df. Atabek AZISBEKOV (KGZ), 5-2

Bronze –  KIM Jinhyeok (KOR) df. Yuya MAETA (JPN), 5-1
Bronze – Singh HARPEET (IND) df. Nurbek KHASHIMBEKOV (UZB), by TF, 11-3, 1:48

97kg (10 entries)
Gold - Sayedmostafa SALEHIZADEH (IRI) df. Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB), 4-0

Bronze –  Yerulan ISKAKOV (KAZ) df. Ali Majeed AL KAABI (IRQ), 6-0
Bronze – Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) df. GU Hakbon (KOR), 6-4


Evloev Gives Host Country 74kg Freestyle Gold

By Ken Marantz

On the night the curtain came down on the Asian Championships in Bishkek, Muslim EVLOEV (KGZ) provided the perfect final act.

Evloev gave the host country a gold medal in 74kg freestyle as the tournament wrapped up its well-supported six-day run at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace with finals in five weight divisions.

Evloev, riding an early 5-point lead, never let up in defeating Mandakhnaran GANZORIG (MGL) by 11-1 technical fall with :24 remaining to give Kyrgyzstan its first Asian freestyle gold since 2015 and fourth in its history.

"It's a great feeling," Evloev said of winning at home to improve on his silver medal he won last year in New Delhi. "The crowd was really supporting me as much as they could and I couldn't fail them, so I did my best."

Iran finished up by capturing two golds, as reigning world and Olympic champion Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) cruised to his first Asian title with a victory at 86kg, and Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) followed by winning the 92kg crown.

In a duel between Georgian-born wrestlers for the 125kg title, Davit MODZMANASHVILI (UZB) defeated Giorgi SAKANDELIDZE (QAT), 5-0, in a tepid match that capped the tournament.

Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ), 61kg champion looking for a gut wrench. Photo Max Rose-Fyne. 

The other gold at stake went to Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ), a New Delhi 2017 bronze medalist who scored two takedowns in the second period of the 61kg final to top Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN), 6-2.

Uzbekistan, which had won five medals, including two golds, on Saturday, added two bronzes to Modzmanashvili's gold to clinch the team title with 178 points. Iran finished second with 157 and Kazakhstan third with 146.

Evloev acknowledged he was heartened by the Greco victory of compatriot Akzhol MAKHMUDOV on the second day, one of the tournament's iconic moments for the thunderous ovation it elicited from the delirious crowd.

"Of course he did inspire me," Evloev said. "And I also want to say congratulations to Makhmudov because I haven't seen him yet."

In the final, Evloev used a single-leg lift to dump Ganzorig, a two-time world bronze medalist, backwards to the mat for a 4-point move, which became 5 when the Mongolian side's challenge was unsuccessful.

"It made me feel more confident, but I was going to wrestle until the last second," Evloev said of being staked to a big early lead. "That's why I won."

Photo of Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) by Max Rose-Fyne. 

Outside of the Kyrgyz wrestlers, the spotlight was squarely on superstar Yazdani Charati.

And he lived up to expectations by overwhelming Uitumen ORGODOL (MGL) in the 86kg final, scoring with a takedown and roll combination right away, and then reeling off three takedowns for a 10-0 technical fall with 36 seconds still left in the first period.

Orgodol added the Asian silver to the one he won in 2016 and his bronze from 2013.

So popular is the Iranian that he had a phalanx of Kyrygz security guards whereever he went, and was whisked pass waiting media and fans without comment after his medal ceremony and completing doping procedures.

In the 92kg final, Ebrahimizivlaei built up a 5-1 lead through the first period against Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), then gave up a passivity point and nothing else to take the gold with a 5-2 victory.

The plodding end to the final bout of the tournament, the 125kg final, belied the historical significance of it.

Modzmanashvili, a London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist for Georgia, took a 4-0 lead with an early takedown to a roll, then gained a point when Sakandelidze was on the activity clock in the second period, when the two giants seemed to have little desire to expend further energy.  

By winning the silver medal, Sakandelidze became Qatar's first-ever medalist at the Asian Championships. The Gulf nation's best previous showing had been fifth place.

Although it took an import to gain a spot on the medal podium, Qatari officials were ecstatic with the result.

"After a long period, this is a big success for Qatar wrestling federation, for Qatar," said team leader Vardan Ghazaryan. "For the first time in senior championships, after more than 50 years, we take such success. Qatar is very proud and it will advertise wrestling to include more young schoolboys for developing wrestling in Qatar."

Ghazaryan said the federation has high expectations for Sakandelidze, who he said has lived in Qatar for two years.

"This is, of course, his first match for Qatar, but you will see his success and medals, gold medals, in the future."

Among the bronze-medal matches, Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) overcame an 8-3 deficit with 45 seconds remaining, scoring the winning takedown in the final seconds to defeat KIM Daisung (KOR), 11-8, at 74kg.

Kim, who clearly ran out of gas down the stretch, is a 40-something high school wrestling coach who came out of retirement to make the national team, according to a South Korean federation official.

Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB) also notched a last-second takedown to upend Turtogtokh LUVSANDORJ (MGL), 4-3, in their 92kg third-place match.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran and China all came away with two bronze medals on the night, while host Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia had one each.

61kg (12 entries)
Gold - Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN), 6-2

Bronze - Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB) df. Sharvan SHARVAN (IND), 6x-6

74kg (12 entries)
Gold - Muslim EVLOEV (KGZ) df. Mandakhnaran GANZORIG (MGL) by TF, 11-1, 0:24

Bronze - Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) df. KIM Daisung (KOR), 11-8
Bronze - Mostafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) df. Dovletmyrat ORAZGYLYJOV (TKM) by TF, 10-0, 4:12

86kg (12 entries)
Gold - Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) df. Uitumen ORGODOL (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 3:24

Bronze - Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) df. Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB), 4-0
Bronze - BI Shengfeng (CHN) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by TF, 10-0, 3:41

92kg (10 entries)
Gold - Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) df. Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), 5-2

Bronze - LIN Zushen (CHN) df. SUE Changjae (KOR), 2-1
Bronze - Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB) df. Turtogtokh LUVSANDORJ (MGL), 4-3

125kg (13 entries)

Bronze - Zolboo NATSAGSUREN (MGL) df. NAM Koungjin (KOR) by TF, 10-0, 4:43
Bronze - Amin TAHERI (IRI) df. Sohbet BELLIYEV (TKM) by TF, 14-4, 3:02