Olympic Weight Class Preview: Greco-Roman 66kg and 98kg
Thursday, August 11, 2016 - 12:54 By William May
Greco-Roman, 66kg (19 entries) -- Venue: Carioca Arena 2, Barra Olympic Park -- Time: Tuesday, August 16: 10:00-13:00 and 16:00-19:00
Frank STAEBLER (GER) is the third world champion at lightweight this Olympic cycle. RYU Han-Soo (KOR), the world champion in 2013, was silver medalist in Las Vegas while 2014 world champ Davor STEFANEK (SRB) earned a bronze medal.
Add to this mix, London 2012 silver medalist Tamas LORINCZ (HUN), London gold medalist at 60kg Omid NOROOZI (IRI) and Beijing 2008 champion Islam-Beka ALBIEV (RUS) as well as 71kg world champion Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE).
Co-Favorites: Frank STAEBLER (GER), 27, broke through for the world title in Las Vegas with wins over Stefanek and Ryu, ending a string of bronze medals and fifth-place finishes in Europe and the world championships. In his final tune-up for Rio 2016, Staebler won in Poland and Germany.
Islam-Beka ALBIEV (RUS), 28, world silver medalist to Ryu in 2013, has been on a roll in 2016 with wins over world bronze medalist Artem SURKOV (RUS) in the Poddubny tourney and over Stefanek at the European championships in March.
Challengers: London 2012 silver medalist Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) opened his run to the gold medal final in London with a win over Staebler. Lorincz, a world bronze medalist in 2014, has also won three European titles, defeating Chunayev by fall in the 2014 final.
RYU Han-Soo (KOR) defeated Albiev in the 2013 world final by disqualification and advanced to the championship final in Las Vegas with a 4-4 criteria win over European Games silver medalist Migran ARUTYUNYAN (ARM).
Davor STEFANEK (SRB) defeated London 2012 gold medalist Omid NOROOZI (IRI) in a contentious final for the 2014 world title and advanced to the semifinals in Las Vegas to ensure his third trip to the Olympic Games.
Dark Horse: Omid NOROOZI (IRI) won the London 2012 gold medal at 60kg, has been a regular on the medals podium since but has only finished on top in team events.
European Games silver medalist Migran ARUTYUNYAN (ARM) finished in fifth in Las Vegas, but slumped to ninth at the European championships in Riga after a careless loss in the round of 16.
Happy Dancer: World champion at 71kg Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE) became a fan favorite after a video of his victory celebration at the World University Games in 2013 went viral. Some fans may have forgotten, however, that the dance was sparked by Chunayev’s technical fall victory in over Albiev – beginning with his signature headlock.
Greco-Roman, 98kg (19 entries) -- Venue: Carioca Arena 2, Barra Olympic Park -- Time: Tuesday, August 16: 10:00-13:00 and 16:00-19:00
Favorite: London 2012 bronze medalist Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) won world titles in 2014 and 2015 and three European championship crowns (2012-2014), but was tripped up by Nikita MELNIKOV (RUS) in the European championship final in March. It was Aleksanyan’s first loss since the world championship final in 2013.
Aleksanyan, 24, won the world title in Las Vegas with three technical falls and a 3-0 triumph over London 2012 gold medalist Ghasem REZAEI (IRI). Aleksanyan also defeated the Olympic champion in the semifinals in Tashkent on his way to his first world championship title in 2014.
In London, Aleksanyan fell to eventual gold medalist Rezaei 2-0 (2-0, 1-0) under the best-of-three periods system in the quarterfinals, but rebounded for the bronze medal.
Challengers: Ghasem REZAEI (IRI) comes in as defending Olympic Games champion and has a silver medal from the 2015 world meet as well as bronze medals in 2007 as well as 2014. Rezaei defeated Aliaksandr HRABOVIK (BLR), 4-1, in the 2014 bronze medal finals.
Islam MAGOMEDOV (RUS) won the gold medal at the Baku 2015 European Games, which Aleksanyan sat out, and was a bronze medal winner in Las Vegas after falling to Rezaei in the opening round.
Magomedov, 25, a two-time junior world champion (2010, 2011), stumbled early in the Poddubny tourney in January but returned to form in June for the Russian national title.
Dark Horse: World bronze medalist Dmitri TIMCHENKO (UKR) was silver medalist at the European Games, but slumped to fifth in Riga after a loss to Aleksanyan. In May, he also took a silver medal at the Trophee Milone – again to the Armenian.
European bronze medalists Aliaksandr HRABOVIK (BLR) and Cenk ILDEM (TUR) won the first and second “last chance” world qualifiers for Rio 2016 in Ulaanbaatar and Istanbul, respectively.
Balasz KISS (HUN) won the world title in 2009 and was 2013 world bronze medalist in Budapest. He fell to Ildem, 4-4, in the round of 32 in Las Vegas and fell to 20th, but won a special wrestle-off with qualifier Adam VARGA (HUN) for the ticket to Rio.
Missing in Action: Nikita MELNIKOV (RUS) owns the only wins over Aleksanyan this Olympic Games cycle – at the 2013 World University Games, the 2013 world championships and the 2016 European championships.