Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! January 07, 2020

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Akgul and Yazdani’s surgery and Taylor’s return to the mat after an 8-month layoff. Also looking at the #WrestleRome Matteo Pellicone entries, the 2019 Wrestlers of the Year and Susaki’s quest for Olympic gold. 

1. Olympic Champs Akgul and Yazdani to Miss Time After Undergoing Surgery 
Rio Olympic champions TAHA AKGUL (TUR) and Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) announced they would miss a good portion of the 2020 season after undergoing surgery over the past few weeks.

Akgul told United World Wrestling, “I fell on my shoulder during wrestling practice. I will be back as soon as possible…hopefully before the Olympics.” The Rio Olympic freestyle champion at 125kg had surgery on his left shoulder and expects to miss at least three months. “I will rest for two months. Then the physical therapy process will begin. I will start training in three months.”

Yazdani, the Rio Olympic champion (at 74kg) and two-time world champion at 86kg, underwent surgery on his right knee and will be sidelined for at least two months. The Iranian superstar told United World Wrestling, “It was a successful surgery. I am in a good situation now. I’ll start training on the mat in two months. I am in good spirits now. Lets see what happens in the future.”

2. Matteo Pellicone Entries Released 
The first stop on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games travels through Rome, Italy, for the first of two Ranking Series events, the Matteo Pellicone.

The three-day tournament kicks off January 15-18 in Ostia, a port city of ancient Rome, located 30km away from the city center. 

As the entries sit, there are seven reigning world champions and 31 world medal holders from the 2019 World Championships that will wrestle in Rome. Freestyle boasts nine world medalist, Greco-Roman features four podium finishers from Nur-Sultan and women’s wrestlers rounds out the tournament with an astonishing 18 2019 world medalist. 

World Champions That Are Registered:
FS 74kg - Kyle Douglas DAKE (USA) – two-time world champion at 79kg
WW 57kg - Linda MORAIS (CAN) – world champion at 59kg
WW 62kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) – world champion at 65kg 
WW 62kg - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ)
WW 69kg - Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA)
WW 76kg - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS)
WW 76kg - Adeline Maria GRAY (USA) 

Click HERE for the full list of entries for the Matteo Pellicone.

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Dear World, I am back. I’ll be seeing you soon

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3. David Taylor Set to Return to Action 
David TAYLOR (USA) announced on his social media channels that he’ll be returning after sitting out of competition for the last eight months. 

In his post, Taylor said, “Dear World, I am back. I’ll be seeing you soon."

Taylor, a 2018 world champion at 86kg, was coming off an undefeated 2018 season, which culminated in gold-medal performances at the World Championships, Pan-American Championships, Ivan Yariguin and Yasar Dogu. 

But in May, Taylor was dealt an unfortunate setback on his road to defending his world title. 

It was at the Beat the Streets match against Drew FOSTER (USA) where Taylor went down 31 seconds into the match with an apparent right knee injury. In the opening sequence of the bout, Foster got to a low-level shot to the right leg of Taylor and came up through the middle. Foster peaked out the back door and isolated the right leg of Taylor. Foster, who was posted on his right hand, threw his left hip to the mat, which is when Taylor stopped wrestling and immediately grabbed his right knee. The reigning world champion tried to continue, but his right knee buckled the first time he put his body weight on it, and ultimately forced him to injury default out of the match.

4. Susaki Secures Spot on Japan’s Asian Olympic Qualifier Team; Otoguro Locks up Spot on Olympic Team
Yui SUSAKI (JPN) and Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) thought their hopes of gold medal glory at the Tokyo Olympic Games were all but gone, but their fate changed after winning the All Japan Championships in Tokyo a few weeks ago.

Susaki saw her Olympic dreams deteriorate in front of her own eyes after losing her world championship starting spot in a July 6 special wrestle-off against Yuki IRIE (JPN). Or, at least, she thought so. But after a disappointing showing in Nur-Sultan by Irie, Susaki was granted the one shot she needed to regain her starting spot. And she took full advantage of it.

Over the holiday break, Susaki took a significant step in recovering her quest to become an Olympic champion by exacting revenge on Irie in the finals of the All Japan Championships in Tokyo. The two-time world champion outlasted Irie in a tactical 2-1 battle and locked up her spot on Japan’s Asian Olympic Qualifier team. Now, she’ll have to travel to Xi’an, China, in March and finish top-two to cement Japan’s spot at the Olympic Games at 50kg.

Meanwhile, Rio Olympic runner-up Rei Higuchi will also be headed to Xi’an, after he dropped from 65kg to 57kg and upset 2017 world champion Yuki TAKAHASHI in a one-point barnburner (7-6) the 57kg gold-medal bout. 

Also of note, Takuto OTOGURO cemented his spot on Japan’s Olympic squad at 65kg. The 2018 world champion, who secured Japan’s Olympic berth at 65kg with a fifth-place finish at this year’s World Championships, cruised to the 65kg crown with a 10-0 finals routing of Rinya NAKAMURA. 

Click HERE for a full breakdown of the All-Japan Championships.

Japan’s Olympic Team: 
65kg - Takuto OTOGURO

Women’s Wrestling 
53kg - Mayu MUKAIDA
57kg - Risako KAWAI 
62kg - Yukako KAWAI 
76kg - Hiroe MINAGAWA

60kg - Kenichiro FUMITA 

Japan's #WrestleXian Asian Olympic Qualifier Team
57kg - Rei HIGUCHI
86 kg - Sohsuke TAKATANI 
97kg - Naoya AKAGUMA 
125kg - Tetsuya TANAKA 

67kg - Shogo TAKAHASHI
77kg - Shohei YABIKU 
87kg - Masato SUMI
97kg - Yuta NARA 
130kg - Arata SONODA 

Women’s Wrestling 
50kg - Yui SUSAKI 

Japan's Olympic Spot Wrestle-Offs 
FS 74kg - Shinkichi OKUI vs. Keisuke OTOGURO
WW 68kg - Sara DOSHO vs. Miwa MORIKAWA

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Geno, Cox and the winner, Frank!

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5. United World Wrestling Names Chamizo, Mensah-Stock and Lorincz Wrestlers of the Year
United World Wrestling has announced its Wrestler of the Year Award winners for 2019: Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) in freestyle, Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) in Greco-Roman, and Tamyra MENSAH (USA) in women's wrestling. 

Each of the three Wrestler of the Year Award winners claimed 30,000 CHF in prize money, while second-place finishers earned 20,000 CHF and third place winners won 10,000 CHF. United World Wrestling is committed to increasing financial incentives in a manner that is sustainable and is equal to all athletes.

The awards winners were selected based on their performances in this year's Ranking Series events, continental championships and the World Championships. Award winners did not have to be world champions, which was a change from last year.

Click HERE for the full release on the 2019 Wrestlers of the Year. 

1. Frank CHAMIZO (ITA, 74kg), 106 points
2. J'den COX (USA, 92kg), 90 points
3. Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO, 125kg), 88 points

1. Viktor LORINCZ (HUN, 87kg), 92 points
2. Shinobu OTA (JPN, 63kg), 88 points
3. Zhan BELENIUK (UKR, 87kg)/Musa EVLOEV (RUS, 97kg), 82 points (5,000 CHF each)

Women's Wrestling
1. Tamyra MENSAH (USA, 68kg), 108 points
2. Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ, 62kg), 94 points
3. Aline ROTTER FOCKEN (GER, 76kg), 87 points

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media

1. Big Move Monday -- Ciobanu V. (MDA) -- Senior Worlds 2019 #WrestleNursultan
2. #ScoreThat: How would you score this exchange for 🔴 and 🔵?
3. #TBT - Gray Grabs Third of Five World Titles
4. Sunday Smiles!
5. How loaded is 76kg for the #WrestleRome Matteo Pellicone?

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Sunday Smiles 😁!

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Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! February 4, 2020

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing David Taylor's return date and the updated world rankings. Also looking at the upcoming African, European and Asian Championships. 

1. David Taylor Long-Awaited Return Set for Pan-Am Qualifier 
David TAYLOR announced he’ll return to competition on March 15 at the Pan-American OG Qualifier in Ottowa, Canada. The “Magic Man” reported his comeback on his Instagram, saying, “I’m so excited to return to competition at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in 7 weeks  Ottawa, Canada. Let’s Go!!!” 

Taylor, a 2018 world champion, suffered a season-ending knee injury while wrestling Drew FOSTER (USA) at Beat the Streets and has been sidelined since May 6, 2019.

The United States failed to qualify for the Olympic Games at 86kg at the 2019 World Championships. They'll rely heavily on Taylor to qualify the weight in Canada after his 315-day layoff. Taylor has to finish top-two in Ottawa to cement the USA’s spot in Tokyo at 86kg. 

If Taylor fails to finish top-two at the Pan-American OG Qualifier, the United States will likely send their Olympic Trials winner to the “Last Chance Qualifier” on April 30 - May 3 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Whoever the Stars and Stripes sends to Bulgaria must to finish with at least a silver medal or the United States will not be represented at 86kg at the Olympic Games.

United States Tokyo Olympic Freestyle Qualified Weights 
57kg – n/a 
65kg – n/a 
74kg – Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) – 2019 world bronze
86kg – n/a 
97kg – Kyle SNYDER (USA) – 2019 world bronze
125kg – n/a 

2. Tokyo 2020 Qualifiers Bajrang, Kaisanov, Micic Improve Freestyle Rank in January
Bajrang PUNIA (IND), Stevan MICIC (SRB), and Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) moved one step closer to sealing up seeds for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after the trio medaled at this month’s Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series tournament in Rome. 

Indian superstar Bajrang had the most successful outing in Rome -- earning gold and taking home 16 points -- while Kaisanov and Micic each earned 12 points for taking bronze. 

In the 65kg finals, Bajrang upended Jordan OLIVER (USA) 4-3 to catapult himself from No. 4 to No. 2 in the rankings. He now trails  No. 1 Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) by 19 points and sits ahead of No. 3 Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (KAZ) by one point. All three are expected to compete in their respective continental championships this February and can earn up to an additional 22 points.  Selahattin KILICSALLAYAN (TUR) jumped to No. 5 at 65kg where he now trails No. 4 Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) by a single point.

Click here to read the full breakdown of the latest freestyle rankings.

Top Ranked Freestyle Wrestlers
57kg - Zavur UGUEV (RUS) - 60
61kg - Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) - 60
65kg - Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) - 60
70kg - David BAEV (RUS) - 60
74kg - Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) -  60
79kg - Kyle Douglas DAKE (USA) - 60
86kg - Hassan YAZDANICHARATI  (IRI) - 60
92kg - J'Den COX (USA) - 58
97kg - Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) - 60
125kg - Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) - 60

3. "Wrestler of the Year" Lorincz in Pursuit of Top Seed at Tokyo 2020
Viktor LORINCZ (HUN), United World Wrestling’s reigning “Wrestler of the Year” in Greco-Roman, made it clear this month that he’s out to defend his well-earned title and win Olympic gold.

Lorincz improved his Ranking Series tournament record to a perfect 23-0 this month with a one-point victory over 2019 Asian silver medalist Kumar SUNIL (IND) in the finals of the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series. With the win, the Hungarian added 16 points to his second ranking leaving him just four points shy of world champion Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) heading into next month’s continental championships. 

But Lorincz is poised to shake up the top spot of the 87kg ranking and gain control of the world's No. 1 spot. Beleniuk elected to sit out of the European Championships, so Lorincz only needs to finish top-eight in Rome to reach the summit of the 87kg rankings.

"I want to win the [European Championships and Poland Open] because it will help my seed for the Olympic Games," said Lorincz, the defending world silver medalist at 87kg. “I will also be in the lead for the Ranking Series again.”

Germany's Denis KUDLA, who is ranked fourth at 87kg, is also expected to miss the European Championships. Without Beleniuk and Kudla, Lorincz needs nine points at the European Championships to ensure a top-four seed in Tokyo.

Click here to read the full breakdown of the latest Greco-Roman rankings.

Top Ranked Greco-Roman Wrestlers
55kg - Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) - 58
60kg - Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) - 60
63kg - Shinobu OTA (JPN) - 58
67kg - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) - 60
72kg - Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) - 60
77kg - Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) - 60
82kg - Lasha GOBADZE (GEO) - 60
87kg - Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) - 60
97kg - Musa EVLOEV (RUS) - 60
130kg - Riza KAYAALP (TUR) - 60

4. Tynybekova and Mensah Inch Closer to Locking up Top Seed at Olympics
Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) and Tamyra MENSAH-STOCK (USA) inched closer to locking up top seeds at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after medalling at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series tournament this month in Rome. 

Tynybekova, who took gold at the Matteo Pellicone, has amassed a comfortable 36-point lead over No. 2 Taybe YUSEIN (BUL) and will earn the No. 1 seed at 62kg in Tokyo if she earns four points at the Asian Championships February 18-23 in Delhi. Tynybekova is the defending Asian champion.

Mensah-Stock finds herself in a similar situation heading into the Pan-American Championships March 6-9 in Ottawa.

Mensah-Stock (74 points) earned 60 with her gold at the world championships last September and added another 14 after taking silver at the Matteo Pellicone. She has a 34-point advantage over Jenny FRANSSON (SWE) and can put her out of striking distance -- and become the No. 1 seeded 68kg woman at the Olympic Games -- if she scores six points at the Pan-American Championships.

Click here to read the full breakdown of the latest women’s wrestling rankings.

Top Ranked Women's Wrestlers
50kg - Mariya STADNIK (AZE) - 60
53kg - Yong Mi PAK (PRK) - 60
55kg - Jacarra Gwenisha WINCHESTER (USA) - 58
57kg - Risako KAWAI (JPN) - 60
59kg - Linda MORAIS (CAN) - 58
62kg - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) - 76
65kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) - 72
68kg - Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA) - 74
72kg - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) - 58
76kg - Adeline Maria GRAY (USA) - 60

5. February to Feature Trio of Continental Championships
February might as well be called “Continental Championship Month.” The African, European and Asian Championships are all sandwiched between February 4-23. 

This year’s continental championships hold extra weight -- especially during the Olympic year. The continental championships grant those Olympic-qualified wrestlers an opportunity to improve on their ranking and earn up to 22 Ranking Series points.

The African Championships kick-off first. They’ll take place February 04-09 in Alger, Algeria, and will be highlighted by 23 of last year’s 30 returning champions. The senior-level portion of the competition takes place Saturday and Sunday. Women’s wrestling and Greco-Roman starts on Saturday (February 8), and Freestyle closes out the tournament on Sunday (February 9).

The European Championships begin February 10-16 and feature eleven reigning world champions and 17 returning European champions that highlight the list of 515 entries. 

New Delhi, India, will host the Asian Championships February 18-23. The Asian Championship entry list will be released on February 13.  

Continental Championship Entries 
African Championship Full Entries 
European Championship Full Entries 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 

1. Big Move Monday -- Sushil K. (IND) -- Senior Worlds 2019 #WrestleNursultan
2. #TBT - Shiraev Wrestles in Junior World Finals before Winning Yariguin Gold
3. Happy Friday, wrestling fans!
4. Who ya got in these three potential #WrestleAlgerAfrican championship matchups?
5. Who are the wrestlers to watch at the #WrestleAlger African Championships (February 4-9)?