KERMANSHAH, Iran (February 13) – Rio 2016 gold medalists Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) and Kyle SNYDER (USA) lead wrestlers from eight of the world’s top wrestling countries to western Iran for the 2017 Freestyle Wrestling World Cup.
Yazdani Charati, making his third World Cup appearance, seeks to spark tourney host and Cup holder Iran to its sixth straight World Cup triumph and eighth victory overall in the dual-meet competition inaugurated in 1973.
Yazdani Charati, the Rio gold medalist at 74kg, is entered at 86kg and will be joined by silver medalist Komeil GHASEMI (125kg) and bronze medal winner Hassan RAHIMI (57kg) to form the nucleus of Iran’s potent squad.
The trio, however, will have to rely on Asian champions Meisam NASIRI (65kg) and Peyman YARAMAHDI (74kg) along with the other members of the squad for five individual wins to secure an outright team victory at the Imam Khomeini Sport Venue on Thursday and Friday.
If teams are tied 4-4 after a dual meet, the winner will be determined by criteria – a formula that takes into account, wins by falls and defaults, technical superiority, most technical points scored, fewest technical points allowed, and the result of the last bout wrestled.
The United States, meanwhile, which has hosted the last three freestyle World Cups, feature a squad that highlight Snyder (97kg), London 2012 gold medalist Jordan BURROUGHS (74kg) and recently crowned world champion Logan STIEBER (61kg).
The Americans, who last won the Cup in 2003 – their 13th of 13 Cups overall, will count on Rio Olympian Frank MOLINARO (65kg), 2015 world bronze medalist James GREEN (70kg) and two-time world team member Anthony RAMOS (57kg) to get them over the top in the “Group of Death”.
The U.S., runners-up in Los Angeles in 2015, finds itself in Group B with six-time titlist and 2016 runner-up Russia, two-time Cup champion Azerbaijan and Georgia, which edged the U.S. on criteria in last year’s third-place dual.
Russia, Azerbaijan and Georgia were all integral parts of the wrestling success of the now-defunct Soviet Union, which won 15 of the first 17 freestyle wrestling World Cup meets, 1973 to 1989.
Azerbaijan, seeking its first trip to the final since 2012, has not entered its two Rio silver medalists – Togrul ASAGAROV (65kg) and Khetag GAZUMOV (97kg) – but three bronze medalists form the core of the their squad.
Two-time world champion Haji ALIEV (61kg) – or world bronze medalist Akhmednabi GVARZATILOV (AZE) as alternate – will likely face the toughest challenges of the tourney in showdowns with Otarsultanov and Stieber.
Along with fellow bronze medal winners Sharif SHARIPOV (86kg) -- also a London 2012 gold medalist -- and Yabrail HASANOV (74kg), Azerbaijan’s line-up includes 2015 world silver medalist Jamalladin MAGOMEDOV (125kg).
Georgia finished third at the 2015 world championships on the strength of Vladimir KHINCHEGASHVILI’s gold medal at 57kg and three bronze medal finalists. But, of that quartet, only world and Rio 2016 bronze medalist Geno PETRIASHVILI (125kg) is scheduled to take the mat in Kermanshah.
In Group B, Iran appears to have smooth sailing to the final, but Turkey will make the favorites work for their berth in the championship dual.
World and Rio 2016 champion Taha AKGUL (125kg) is not on the entry list but world and Olympic silver medalist Selim YASAR (84kg) is and could provide an interesting challenge for Yazdani Charati. European silver medalist Mustafa KAYA (65kg) and 2014 world runner-up Yakup GOR (70kg) could also surprise.
Mongolia, which finished fourth in Las Vegas 2015, brings in world silver medalist at 74kg PUREVJAV Unurbat (86kg) at middleweight, two-time world bronze medalist GANZORIG Mandakhnaran (70kg) and NATSAGSUREN Zolboo (125kg), a bronze medal winner at last month’s Yarygin Grand Prix.
India, meanwhile, enters a minimal squad of only eight wrestlers, paced by 2013 world silver medalist Amit KUMAR (57kg) and 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Bajrang BAJRANG (IND).
Wednesday, February 15
17:00-17:45 – Medical Examination: FS All categories
18:00-19:00 – Weigh-in: FS All categories
Thursday, February 16
9:30-13:30 – Session 1 and Session 2
Mat A: United States v Georgia, Russia v Azerbaijan
Mat B: Iran v Turkey, India v Mongolia
Mat A: Azerbaijan v Georgia, Russia v United States
Mat B: Iran v India, Turkey v Mongolia
16:00-16:30 – Opening Ceremony
16:30-19:00 – Session 3
Mat A: Russia v Georgia, Azerbaijan v United States
Mat B: Turkey v India, Iran v Mongolia
Friday, February 17
10:00-11:15 – 7th-8th Place Final: Group A 4th vs Group B 4th
11:15-12:30 – 5th-6th Place Final: Group A 3rd vs Group B 3rd
16:00-17:30 – 3rd-4th Place Final: Group A 2nd vs Group B 2nd
17:30-19:00 – Championship Final & Award Ceremonies