Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! December 24, 2018

By Eric Olanowski

Reviewing the new Ranking Series point structure and tournament locations. Also taking a look at Icho's win over Kawai, the #UWWAwards, and the 2018 Greco-Roman World Clubs Cup. 

1. Wrestling Revamps Ranking Series System, Names 2019 Host Locations
The United World Wrestling Bureau has approved new regulations for the 2019 Ranking Series. The recommendations were brought forward by the Technical Commission at a meeting last week in Belgrade.

The most important changes to the 2019 Ranking Series centered around the allocation of points at world championships, continental championships, and Ranking Series events. The points were rebalanced to emphasize participation, and success, at the world and continental championships.

New worldwide rankings have been updated on the United World Wrestling website. The 2018 World Championships results are the basis of the rankings, as each year the world championships results will be the first points for the following year.

The seeding process for the World Championships and Olympic Games will now also include a field of the top four wrestlers in each weight category with lower seeded athletes bumping up, should one of the top four not participate in the world championships. The previous version of the world championships did not replace top seeds when they were absent of the competition.

Click HERE to see locations for the freestyle, Greco-Roman, and women's wrestling Ranking Series events. 


2. Icho Pulls Off Dramatic Win over Kawai to Move Step Closer to Shot at Olympic 5-peat
Adding another chapter to her bulging legend, Kaori ICHO pulled off a dramatic last-second victory over the new titan on the block, and moved a step closer to gaining a shot at winning a historic fifth Olympic gold medal in her home country.

Icho scored a takedown with 10 seconds left to clinch a 3-2 victory over fellow Rio 2016 Olympic champion Risako KAWAI in a nationally televised women’s 57kg final that brought a close to the All-Japan Championships in Tokyo.

Icho’s stunning victory came a day after Kawai, this year’s world champion at 59kg, edged the four-time Olympic champion 2-1 in a preliminary round-robin group match, handing Icho her first loss to a Japanese opponent since 2001.

I knew it was going to be a tough match, but I’m happy I could pull it off,” said Icho, who let out a short scream of joy and clenched her fists after the victory. “It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this nervousness, so I thought to just try and stay relaxed.”

The 34-year-old Icho won her first national title since 2015 and 13th overall dating back to 2002, despite spending more than two years away from the mat after winning the gold in Rio, which made her the first woman in Olympic history to win four straight titles in a single event.

She returned to competition in September as a prelude for the All-Japan Championships, also referred to as the Emperor’s Cup and which was serving as the first stage in the qualifying process for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Click HERE to read the full recap of the final day of wrestling at the Emperor’s Cup. 
Day One: Emperor's Cup Wrap 
Day Two: Emperor's Cup Wrap 
Day Three: Emperor's Cup Wrap 

3. Bonne, Bacsi and Gray Named Comeback Athletes of the Year

United World Wrestling named Yowls BONNE-RODRIGUEZ (CUB), Peter BACSI (HUN), and Adeline GRAY (USA) the 2018 Comeback Athletes of the Year.

In freestyle, Cuba’s Yowls Bonne-Rodriguez won his first world title just days before his 35th birthday. Bonne finally obtained the elusive world gold medal after three previous attempts, scoring come-from-behind wins in the quarterfinals and finals.

In the quarterfinals, Bonne trailed Iran’s Mohammadbagher YAKHKESHI by two points with five seconds left when he hit a four-point inside trip and stole the match, 10-8.

Then, in the finals, Bonne trailed Russia’s Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV  2-0 before scoring a massive five-point move, which ultimately catapulted him to the top of the podium with a 5-5 criteria win.

This was Bonne's third world medal, previously finishing up the 2014 and 2017 World Championships with bronze medals.

Peter Bacsi, the 35-year-old Hungarian, won his first world championship since 2014 earning himself this year's Greco-Roman Comeback Athlete of the Year.

Basci trailed Turkey’s Emrah KUS 3-0 in the 82kg gold medal bout but scored four unanswered points to give the host nation their first and only gold medal of the Budapest World Championships.

The 2018 World Championships were rumored to be Bacsi’s last, but after his surprise victory he didn't rule out the 2019 Astana World Championships, though he did confirm he will not be making a run for Hungary’s 2020 Tokyo Olympic team.

Adeline Gray (USA) was named the women’s wrestling Comeback Athlete of the Year after returning from a year absence to win her fourth world title.

The American’s impressive road to her fourth world title went through reigning Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN), and reigning world champion, Yasmin ADAR (TUR).

In the semifinals, Gray edged Wiebe, 3-1, and wrapped up the gold-medal bout early with a 13-1 win over Adar, winning the gold medal in a weight class that featured eight previous world champions.

4. Burroughs and Chamizo, Snyder and Sadulaev Headline Biggest Rivalries of the Year

United World Wrestling has named four of the Biggest Rivalries of the Year. There were two in freestyle, and one in Greco-Roman and women's wrestling.

The freestyle season saw more than one top-level rivalry, so a pair were selected for this category. The first freestyle rivalry selected was the 74kg showdown between Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), and the second was Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) and Kyle SNYDER (USA).

Perhaps no weight category was more competitive in 2018 than women’s wrestling’s 76kg. Lead by reigning world champion, Yasmin ADAR (TUR), four-time world champion, Adeline GRAY (USA), and Rio Olympic champion, Erica WIEBE (CAN). It was the American Adeline Gray who prevailed and won her fourth world title.

In Greco-Roman, Kyrgyzstan’s Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) was looking for redemption coming into the Junior World Championships the American Kamal Ameer BEY (USA) was victorious in the 2017 junior world finals. Makhmudov dominated the bronze-medal bout at the Junior World Championships and picked up the 8-1 win.

5.  Iran Team Wins GR World Clubs Cup, Azizli & Kayaalp Remain Undefeated
Iran's Team Bimeh Razi Ardabil defeated Team Russia to capture 2018 Greco-Roman World Clubs Cup title in Ardabil city of Iran. 

The Iranian team, lifted by Eldaniz AZIZLI and Sergey SEMENOV, the pair of reigning world 2018 world champions, defeated Russia, 8-2 to claim the 2018 Greco-Roman World Clubs Cup team title. 

Azerbaijan’s 55kg world champion Eldaniz Azizli gave Bimeh Razi their first win of the finals with a technical fall victory over Vitalii Kabaloev (RUS). 

Bimeh Razi added wins from Mehrdad MARDANI and Saman ABDEVALI (Bimeh) and took a three match lead into the 67kg matchup between Maksim SURKOV (RUS) df. Mohammad ELYASI (Bimeh). Surkov put Russia on the board with a 1-1 criteria win, and closed the scored to 3-1. Denis MURTAZIN (RUS) gave Russia their second and final win of the night with a 10-8 win over Boroumand ASLAN. 

Bimeh Razi closed out the gold-medal bout on a five match win steak, including two 5-0 shutout wins at 82kg and 87kg, and a fall from Russia’s reigning 130kg world champion, Sergey Semenov, who was competing for the Iranian side. 

In the bronze medal match, Iran’s Sina Sanat Izeh narrowly defated Turkey, 6-4. 

In the fifth-place match, Georgia defeated Iran’s Shohadaye Modafe Haram, 6-4, while Ukraine beat Serbia, 8-2 in the seventh-place bout. 

Click HERE for full results of the final day of the 2018 Greco-Roman World Clubs Cup.

Day One: Greco-Roman World Clubs Cup Wrap 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 

1. REPOST: @usawrestling you don’t wanna miss this one! 🔥🔥🔥@btslosangeles#wrestlelikeagirl
2. Over the next two weeks @unitedworldwrestling will share our most popular videos and photos from 2018. 
#FrankChamizo VS  #JordanBurroughs
📷 @beatthestreets 
В течении следующих двух недель мы будем делиться с вами лучшими публикациями 2018 года. 
#ФрэнкЧамизо VS  #ДжорданБарроуз
3. Over the next two weeks @unitedworldwrestling will share our most popular videos and photos from 2018. 
#DavidTaylor 📷 @kadircaliskan
В течении следующих двух недель мы будем делиться с вами лучшими публикациями 2018 года. 
4. Best photos of 2018 GR World Clubs Cup in Iran, Ardabil city.

Phtos by @alireza_akbari_62 
بهترین تصاویر از مسابقات کشتی فرنگی باشگاه های جهان در اردبیل
5. Check out the 2019 Ranking Series events! Link in stories!

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly Five! November 26, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Reviewing Sweden's trio of newly-named Olympians, and previewing the upcoming Alrosa Cup and Canadian Wrestling Trails. 

1. Three Swedish Wrestlers Olympic Spots Confirmed
Sweden confirmed that Jenny FRANSSON, Henna JOHANSSON and Alexandros KESSIDIS earned their spot on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team. Fransson and Kessidis were world silver medalists this year, and Johansson was a bronze-medal finisher. 

Fransson, this year's 68kg world runner-up, announced on her Instagram, saying, "I'm so proud that today we were officially selected to represent Sweden in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics."

The 32-year-old's confirmation on the Tokyo Olympic team means she's now a four-time Olympian. The world runner-up finished in ninth place at the Beijing and London Olympic Games before finding the podium with a bronze-medal finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

On a side note, Fransson has a career Olympic Games record of 4-5, but three of those losses came against two eventual champions and a silver medalist. Wang JIAO (CHN) and Sara DOSHO (JPN) went on to win gold medals at the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games, respectively, while Stanka HRISTOVA (BUL) was a runner-up at the 2012 Olympics.

Henna Johansson, the 62kg women's wrestling world bronze medalist, will be making her third appearance at the Olympic Games. She;s finished in tenth place at the London and Rio Olympic Games.

Kessidis, who dropped the 77kg Greco-Roman world finals, will make his first trip to the Olympic Games next August. The 24-year-old will be Sweden's leading candidate to win their 21st Greco-Roman Olympic title, but first since Mikael LJUNGBERG's did so at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. 

Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) will wrestle this weekend at the Alrosa Cup in Moscow, Russia. This is only the fourth time the Olympic silver medalist has wrestled since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

2. Makhov Set to Compete at Alrosa Cup (November 28-30) 
Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) continues his quest to improve his Olympic silver medal on November 28 when he’ll lace up at the Alrosa Cup in Moscow, Russia. 

The Alrosa Cup will be Makhov's fourth competition since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the second time he's competed in 2019. Most recently, Makhov returned to the mat after a 21-month hiatus at the Poland Open, where he finished in second place. 

After August's Poland Open silver-medal finish, Makhov was rumored to be one-of-two replacement candidates for the 2019 World Championships after Russia's starting heavyweight Anzor KHIZRIEV (RUS) suffered an arm injury during a training camp leading up to Nur-Sultan. Instead, Russia ultimately inserted Alan KHUGAEV, who finished in 11th place in Kazakhstan.

Earlier this year, the three-time world champion and former London Olympic bronze medalist had his medal upgraded. Makhov was awarded the silver medal after Artur TAYMAZOV (UZB) was stripped of his 2012 London Olympic gold medal by the IOC Disciplinary Commission (DC) after a reanalysis of his anti-doping test at the 2012 Olympic Games. 

Olympic Erica WIEBE
(CAN) could square off with world champion Justina Di STASIO (CAN) for a potential opportunity to wrestle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

3. Canadian Wrestling Trials Begin December 5-7
The Canadian Wrestling Team trials kick off December 5-7 in Niagara, Ontario, Canada, and Erica WIEBE and Justina Di STASIO highlight the premier weight-to-watch, 76kg. 

Wiebe, a Rio Olympic champion, is looking to become the first-ever non-Japanese women's wrestler to win a pair of Olympic titles. But to do so, she'll first have to get through 2018 world champion, Justina Di Stasio, in a best two-of-three match. That is, of course, if they both make the finals. 

Though official seeds won't be released until a few days before the competition begins, Wiebe and Di Stasio are expected to be the first and second-seeded wrestlers, respectively. If the colossal match were to happen, it'd take place Saturday night.

The pair of stars met earlier this year in the finals of Canada Cup in Calgary, where Wiebe scored the 7-5 come-from-behind win. In that June meeting, Wiebe trailed 3-2 heading into the closing period, but the Olympic champion outscored the world champion, 5-2, and secured the gold medal with the 7-5 victory. 

Other notable Canadian stars that'll be in action at the Canadian Wrestling Team Trials are Danielle LAPPAGE, Linda MORAIS, Alex TOWN and Diana WEICKER.  

Morais, who is coming off winning a world title at the non-Olympic weight of 59kg, is set to move down to 57kg, where Hannah TAYLOR and Alexandra TOWN will challenge her. Taylor is fresh off a bronze-medal finish at the U23 World Championships, while Town is a year removed from handing Canada their first-ever women's wrestling U23 world gold medal. 

Lappage and Weicker, the pair of 2018 world medalists, will also be in action in Ontario. Lappage, the 2018 world runner-up, will wrestle at 68kg, while Weicker, the Budapest bronze medalist, will wrestle at 53kg. 

The winners of the Canadian Wrestling Team Trails cement their spot on Canada's Pan-American Championship/Qualifier teams. Furthermore, they'll lock up their place on Canada's 2020 Tokyo Olympic team if they qualify Canada for the Olympic Games at the world or continental qualifier. 

Event Page
Trials Clarification

Said ABDVALI (IRI) was expected to lead Iran's team at the 2019 Greco-Roman World Cup. The tournament has since been postponed. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. Greco-Roman World Cup Postponed
In response to the current instability in Iran, the 2019 Greco-Roman World Cup, originally slated to be held next weekend in Tehran, has been postponed. 

The UWW Executive Committee held a meeting yesterday in Istanbul and assessed a variety of sources including the associated Foreign Ministries recommendations to travellers in Iran and the recent decision of other sports. It was also acknowledged by the Executive Committee that two teams had already withdrawn their participation due to the recommendations of their nations. 

"Considering its responsibility towards athletes and teams; and that the situation has not reached a satisfactory degree of stability for the holding of such an international event; and with a concern for avoiding any risk on our athletes, the Executive Committee has decided to postpone the holding of the World Cup GR until further notice," wrote United World Wrestling general secretary Micheal DUSSON, in a letter to concerned national federations.

Two-time world champion Yui SUSAKI (JPN) has to win the Emperor's Cup in order to lock up her spot on Japan's Asian Olympic qualifier team. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

5. Japan's 50kg Asian Olympic Qualifier Spot to be Determined at Emperor's Cup
Shortly after winning her second consecutive senior world title a season ago in Budapest, Yui SUSAKI (JPN) was looked at by many as one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the world. Through her first two senior World Championships, Susaki was a perfect 9-0 and scored an impressive seven technical superiority victories and a fall en route to her pair of world titles. 

But the seven-time world champion (three cadet, two junior and two senior) was dealt a stunning loss to Yuki IRIE (JPN) and failed to make Japan's Nur-Sultan world team. Susaki was in danger of missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, but her rival Irie dropped her quarterfinals match in Nur-Sultan to SUN Yanan (CHN), who ended up falling to eventual champion Mariya STADNIK (AZE) in the semifinals, and left the door wide open for Susaki to return to Japan's lineup prior to the Olympic Games. 

Japan's focus at 50kg moves to December 19-22 Emperor's Cup. The winner of the 50kg weight class, which will feature Irie, Susaki and Rio Olympic champion Erie TOSAKA (JPN), will travel to Xi'an, China, to try to secure Japan's spot at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 
1. Big Move Monday -- Euren J. (SWE) -- Greco-Roman World Cup 2015
2. Wrestle Like A Girl 🤼‍♀️ #uww #unitedworldwrestling#wrestlelikeagirl
3. Rashidov Wins Long-Awaited World Title
4. Akgul, Burroughs, Sadulaev and Yazdani are among the freestyle superstars who already have an Olympic title on their resume. Which medalist do you think will medal at the #Tokyo2020 Olympic Games?
5. On the Line: Match Winners