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Seven Olympic Medalists Set to Kick off Freestyle World Cup

By Eric Olanowski

Iowa, United States (April 6) - The United States who is hosting their fourth World Cup in five years is paced by a pair of Olympic champions who boast a combined six world gold medals. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and Kyle SNYDER (USA) will be looking to assist the American's in hoisting their fourteenth overall World Cup title and first since 2003.

Burroughs, the keeper of four world gold medals will be making his sixth world cup appearance, and Snyder who owns two world golds will be making his third world cup appearance. Along with Burroughs and Snyder, a third American Olympic medalist in J'den Cox is entered on USA's roster. 

Azerbaijan, who's the favorite to come out of Group B won their last title in 2009 will rely on the direction of their first three-time world champion, Haji ALIYEV (AZE) and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE) to secure their third overall World Cup Title title.

Aliyev, who is competing in his fourth World Cup is up at 65kg, which is four kilos different than his world championship weight of 61kg. This will be the fourth competition that Aliyev has wrestled at 65kg. He also competed at the World Clubs Cup for Setaregan Sari, India’s Pro Wrestling League for the Delhi Sultans and the International Ukrainian Tournament.  

Along with the United States, Georgia, Japan and India round out the four Group A teams.

Japan, who has placed third five times will put the weight of its team on the back of 2017 Breakout Wrestler of the Year and world champion, Yuki TAKAHASHI (JPN).

Takahashi will kick-start the second session of action with a rematch of the finals from the 2017 World Championships where he handled Thomas GILMAN (USA), 6-1. When asked about the match, Takashi said, "It was a great match last year. But for him, this is a going to be a home match, and for us, this is an away match. I'm very excited, but also nervous about the match." 

For Georgia to improve on their best showing of fourth-place (2016) they’ll have to rely on 2012 Olympic bronze medalists Dato MARSAGISHVILI (GEO), multiple time age-level European Champion, Givi MATCHARASHVILI (GEO) and junior world bronze medalist, Tariel GAPRINDASHVILI (GEO).

India, who entered the tournament late brought a squad of ten wrestlers that are patrolled by the pair of Olympians in Amit KUMAR (IND) and Sandeep TOMAR (IND).  

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Joining Azerbaijan in Group B will be Cuba, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.

Cuba is coming off a Central American and Caribbean Championships where they swept the finals, going six-for-six in the gold-medal bouts. Each of the six Cubans who won Central American and Caribbean Championships titles last weekend have made the trip to Iowa to compete in the 2018 World Cup.

Mongolia, who is looking to snap their three-year streak of sixth-place brings the trio of current world No. 1’s in GANZORIG Mandakhnaran (MGL), LUVSANDORJ Turtogtokh (MGL) and NATSAGSUREN Zolboo (MGL).

The duo of Olympian’s in Meirzhan ASHIROV (KAZ) and Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) will be in charge of a Kazakhstan team who is making their first World Cup appearance since 2013.

Freestyle World Cup Schedule
Saturday, April 7 (All Times, CST)
10:00 am: United States v. India (Mat A) // Mongolia v. Kazakhstan (Mat B)
11:15 am: Japan v. Georgia (Mat A) // Azerbaijan v. Cuba (Mat B)
2:00 pm: Opening Ceremonies
2:30 pm: United States v. Japan (Mat A)
4:30 pm: Mongolia v. Cuba (Mat B)
5:45 pm: India v. Georgia (Mat A) // Azerbaijan v. Kazakhstan (Mat B)

Sunday, April 8 (All Times, CST)
10:00 am: United States v. Georgia (Mat A) // Mongolia v. Azerbaijan (Mat B)
11:15am: India v. Japan (Mat A) // Kazakhstan v. Cuba (Mat B)
12:30pm: Fifth Place Match (Mat A) // Seventh Place Match (Mat B)
2:15 pm: Bronze Medal Match (Mat A)
4:00 pm: Gold Medal Match (Mat A)

TV Schedule
Saturday, April 7 (All Times, CST)

10:00 am: USA v. India — Olympic Channel
2:30 pm: USA v. Japan — NBCSN

Sunday, April 8 ((All Times, CST)
11:00 am: United States v. Georgia — Olympic Channel
4:00 pm: Gold Medal Match — NBCSN