Three Defending Champs Upended on Quest to Repeat as European Champions

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 13) --- Miglena SELISHKA (BUL), Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) and Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) halted Thursday night’s trio of returning European champions from defending their crowns from a year ago. 

At 50kg, Selishka scored the two-point victory over defending European champion Oksana LIVACH (UKR) and flip-flopped the first and second positions on the podium from last year’s European Championships.

“I feel fantastic; I feel good. I can’t say it with words,” Selishka said after her European finals win. 

She trailed 1-0 after the first four minutes of wrestling but adjusted mid-way through the second period and solved the Ukrainian puzzle that stumped her for over half the match. “I was just thinking that I need to keep wrestling and try to score points.” 

Miglena SELISHKA (BUL) and her coach celebrate her 50kg gold-medal win. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

That’s precisely what she did, starting her five-point scoring run with a referee-given inactivity point. 

Selishka added a stepout point and a takedown and extended her lead to 4-1. She surrendered a two-point takedown and only led by a point, but capitalized on a Livach slip and scored her fifth and final point of the match. Selishka avenged her 2019 European finals loss and improved on that 2019 runner-up finish with the 5-3 win over third-ranked Livach.

Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) celebrates after picking up a last-second takedown over Bilyana DUDOVA (BUL) in the 59kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Anastasia Nichita scored a dramatic comeback win over Bilyana DUDOVA (BUL) and became the first Moldovan woman ever to win a European title.

“Firstly, for me, it means a lot because I train hard every day. I have done everything I could to win that medal,” said Nichita. “I was dreaming of it for so long. It means everything to me.”

Nichita trailed 2-0 after the first three minutes after she gave up the period's only takedown. The 21-year-old Moldovan evened the match with a takedown of her own with two-minutes left in the second period. 

But Nichita fell behind again after Dudova gained two points from a stepout and a failed challenge. 

When asked what her plan was heading into the final 25 seconds down by two points, Nachita said, “Honestly, I didn’t have any plans. I just wrestled till the very end. I only stopped when I saw 00:00 on the scoreboard.”

She fired off attack after attack, and with three seconds left, finally got to the legs of Dudoba. Nichita snuck behind Dudova and ended her hopes of repeating as European champion. “I didn’t expect it to happen,” Nachita said after scoring the takedown with three seconds left. 

Nichita qualified Moldova for the Olympic Games with a fifth-place finish in Nur-Sultan and will move back down to the Olympic weight of 57kg. “I will go on training hard. I want to win an Olympic medal for our country, for the Republic of Moldova.” 

Ekaterina Bukina finally captured her long-awaited European gold medal with a 4-3 victory over reigning champion Yasemin ADAR (TUR). 

Bukina fell in her previous three trips to the European finals and stopped Adar from adding a fifth consecutive continental crown to her resume. 

“It’s my first win at the European Championships. Even though I have the Olympic bronze, first place is always the first,” Bukina said after her big win. 

In the finals, Bukina blasted Adar in the opening period with an unexpected ankle pick and led 4-0. She said she saw the ankle pick present itself and capitalized on her one opportunity. “I saw that she put her foot close; I tried the chance that was given to me and it was successful.” 

She surrendered three points in the second period but stayed composed and stood atop the European podium for the first time in her career with her one-point finals victory. “I was very happy to win. I was happy that they played the Russian national anthem and gave me the medal,” said Bukina.

Bukina’s European title run puts the Russian coaching staff in a tough position moving forward. London Olympic champion Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) is moving up from her 2019 world-title winning weight of 72kg to the Olympic weight of 76kg. 

Bukina said she's not sure where this win puts her in the race to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. “It depends on who will be in better shape. Right now, she is wrestling in the other weight category, but we will decide later when it’s closer to the Olympics. It’s too early to talk about it.” 

Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) was one of three Russian women who won gold medals on Thursday night. She won the 68kg title with a 10-0 win over Dalma CANEVA (ITA). (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Russia Leads Team Race After Winning Three Golds on Thursday Night 
Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) and Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) joined Bukina as European champions on Thursday night. The trio of champions helped the Russian Federation (105 points) carry a 31 point lead over Ukraine  (74 points) into the final day of women’s wrestling. 

At 55kg, Khoroshavtseva only needed less than two minutes to pick up the 10-0 technical superiority victory over Solomiia VYNNYK (UKR) in the 55kg gold-medal match. She kickstarted the match with a slide-by and ended the match with back-to-back four-point throws. 

Khoroshavtseva's win handed Russia their first gold medal in any style of these European Championships.

Velieva was Russia’s second champion of the day. She put on a dominant display in the 68kg finals and joined Khoroshavtseva atop the continental podium with an 11-0 technical superiority victory over Dalma CANEVA (ITA). 

Bukina rounded out the three Russian gold medalists with her win over world champion Yasemin Adar in the 76kg finals. 

The European Championships resume on Friday morning at 11:30 (local time) and can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.

GOLD - Miglena Georgieva SELISHKA (BUL) df. Oksana LIVACH (UKR), 5-3
BRONZE - Milana DADASHEVA (RUS) df. Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR), 10-4 

GOLD - Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) df. Solomiia VYNNYK (UKR), 10-0 
BRONZE - Sofia Magdalena MATTSSON (SWE) df. Ellen RIESTERER (GER), 10-0 
BRONZE - Bediha GUN (TUR) df. Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA), 11-4 

GOLD - Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) df. Bilyana Zhivkova DUDOVA (BUL), 6-5 
BRONZE - Anhelina LYSAK (UKR) df. Laura MERTENS (GER), via fall 
BRONZE - Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Elif YANIK (TUR), 14-3 

GOLD - Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) df. Dalma CANEVA (ITA), 11-0 
BRONZE - Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR) df. Hanna SADCHANKA (BLR), via fall 
BRONZE - Danute DOMIKAITYTE (LTU) df. Anna Carmen SCHELL (GER), 9-0 

GOLD - Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) df. Yasemin ADAR (TUR), 4-3 
BRONZE - Iselin SOLHEIM (NOR) df. Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR), 6-6 


Chamizo Wins Clash Against Gazimagomedov, Claims Fourth European Title

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 16) --- Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) dramatically claimed his fourth European title in front of a friendly Italian crowd on Sunday. He scored the match-deciding takedown with under 25 seconds left to defeat fellow two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3. 

After winning his fourth European gold medal, Chamizo said this win was the sweetest because it was in front of his hometown Italian fans. “This (European title) is the best. It’s in my home; It’s the best,” he said. “European people say Italy doesn’t know about wrestling. Today, everyone was here to support me, and that’s amazing. I want to say thank you to the Italian people for coming.”

Chamizo entered the European Championships ranked No. 2 in the world, trailing reigning two-time world champion Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) by 20 points. He grabbed the 22-point gold medal and is the new top-ranked wrestler in the world at 74kg. 

“I’m wrestling in Poland. It’s a Ranking Series tournament and I want to come into (the Olympic Games) ranked No. 1,” he said. 

In the finals, Chamizo scored an inactivity point in the first period, but conceded a left-sided single leg and fell behind 2-1. 

In the second period, the Italian superstar fought off a near-takedown on the edge, and luckily for him, the refs awarded Gazimagomedov the one-point stepout point and not the two-point takedown, putting the Russian in front, 3-1. Chamizo, who trailed by two points, snapped Gazimagomedov to the mat and spun behind, but the Russian kicked out and surrendered the stepout point.

Chamizo trailed 3-2 when he jammed Gazimagomedov’s double-leg attempt with his heavy hips and spun behind for the match deciding takedown. “I knew he was coming. He needed to take my legs to win, he said. “If you want, you can come. I have a surprise for you.”

But there was still time on the clock and Chamizo nearly threw the match away with 10 seconds left. 

He gave up a single leg and was one second away from giving up the stepout. Chamizo held Gazimagomedov off long enough to defend his European crown from last year and win his fourth continental title. “The outside people say the match is too close. But, when you know you’ve trained good, you can do whatever you want.” 

After the award ceremony, Chamizo stated he believes that Gazimagomedov is a lot better than the man that beat him in last year’s world finals, Zaurbek Sidakov. “(Sidakov) is a cool guy, and he’s training good, but I think (Gazimagomedov) is much better than him,” Chamizo said. “Look, (Sidakov and I) wrestled in 2018, and my training was about 50%. I didn’t perform. It was the same thing in 2019. My knee and ankle weren’t good. Right now, I’m good. But, where is (Sidakov)?”
After winning the Ivan Yariguin title, Gazimagomedov stated a similar opinion as Chamzio. He said, “In Russia, many understand that I will win against Sidakov, but perhaps we will not be allowed to meet on the mat because we don’t have a very transparent selection system.”

As it sits now, Sidakov is the top choice to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. But, Gazimagomedov’s Yariguin win and European silver-medal finish further his case that he deserves at least a wrestle-off to show just how worthy of a competitor he is. 

Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) attacks Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) in the 61kg European finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Bogomoev and Naifonov Close out Team-Title Run for Russia 
Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) and Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) reeled in gold medals and helped the Russian Federation lock up the freestyle team title. Russia finished with 186 points, which was 70 points ahead of second-place Azerbaijan and 91 points ahead of third-place Georgia. 

Bogomoev defeated the reigning world champion and the returning European champion en route to the 61kg gold medal. His win on Sunday added Russia’s dominating lightweight performance in which they won gold in the first three weight classes. 

Bogomoev joined lightweights Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) and Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS), who won the 57kg and 65kg gold medals, respectively. 

Bogomoev scored a last-second takedown against returning European champion Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) and moved into the finals with the 5-5 criteria win. He closed his run to the non-Olympic weight gold medal with a one-point win over returning world champion Beka LOMTADZE (GEO). 

In the finals, Bogomoev commanded a convincing 3-0 lead midway through the second period. He scored an inactivity point, then capitalized on a high crotch while he was on the shot clock. He gave up a second-period takedown, which cut his lead to one point. Bogomoev fought off a flurry of Georgian attacks and won his second European title and first defeating Lomtadze in the 2015 European Games. 

Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) finishes a shot on Myles AMINE (SMR) in the 86kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Artur Naifonov was the second Russian of the day and fifth of the tournament to claim European gold. He stopped Myles AMINE (SMR) from becoming the first athlete from San Marino to ever win a European title with a 4-0 shutout win in the 86kg finals. 

In the gold-medal match, Naifonov scored three stepouts and an inactivity point and won his second European title and first since winning the 2018 crown in Dagestan, Russia. 

Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) carries the Turkish flag around the mat after defeating Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) in the 92kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Karadeniz and Petriashvili Claim Final Two European Golds 
Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) claimed the final two golds of the European Championships. 

At 92kg, Karadeniz stopped Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) from ending Switzerland’s 85-year freestyle continental gold-medal drought. 

Karadeniz snuck behind Scherrer and nearly scored the matches first takedown but ran out of real estate and collected the inactivity point. He picked up another stepout, then tacked on an inactivity point and claimed his first European title with a 3-0 shutout victory. 

Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) won his second European title with an 11-0 win over Robert BARAN (POL) in the 125kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Petriashvili stopped Robert BARAN (POL) for the second time in the European finals and won his second European title. The three-time world champion ended the match in the first period after scoring the 11-0 technical superiority victory. His 11 points came from a stepout, two takedowns and three gut wrenches.

BRONZE - Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Georgios PILIDIS (GRE), via injury default 
BRONZE - Nikolai OKHLOPKOV (ROU) df. Intigam VALIZADA (AZE), 3-1 

GOLD - Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3 
BRONZE -  Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) df. Miroslav KIROV (BUL), via fall 

GOLD - Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR), 4-0 
BRONZE - Boris MAKOEV (SVK) df. Akhmed Adamovitch MAGAMAEV (BUL), 6-5 

GOLD - Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) df. Samuel SCHERRER (SUI), 3-0 
BRONZE - Aslanbek ALBOROV (AZE) df. Irakli MTSITURI (GEO), 2-0 
BRONZE - Amarhajy MAHAMEDAU (BLR) df. Marzpet GALSTYAN (ARM), 7-0 

GOLD - Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) df. Robert BARAN (POL), 11-0 
BRONZE - Levan BERIANIDZE (ARM) df. Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 2-2