Weekly FIVE!

Weekly Five! November 12, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing the Women’s World Cup team race, wrestlers and weights to watch and Iran hosting the Greco-Roman World Cup (November 28-29).

1. The Road to the Finals 
In the 18-year history of the Women’s World Cup, Japan, China and the United States are the only teams to hoist the annual dual meet team trophy. But, dating back to 2003 when the United States claimed their lone team title, Japan or China has had a stronghold on women’s wrestling -- claiming 14 consecutive World Cup championships. 

Japan and China met in the previous two World Cup finals, with Japan coming out on the winning end of both of those meetings. But, this year is slated to be a different story, as Japan and China will wrestle on Saturday night in Group A action for a potential spot in Sunday night’s gold-medal dual. That is, of course, if they both get past a fairly young and inexperienced Ukrainian team that’s looking to send shock waves through the wrestling world and make their first finals appearance since 2005. 

Russia, the United States and Mongolia are the three Group B teams.

Though Mongolia has a pair of returning world bronze medalists, they likely won’t have enough firepower to match that of the Russian Federation or the United States -- who both have at least one world champ on their squad. 

The premier Group B matchup between Russia and the United States, which will take place on Saturday afternoon, will feature four of the ten women’s wrestling world champions. 

Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS), this year’s 62kg world champion, will lead the Russian Federation in the dual, while reigning world champions Jacarra WINCHESTER, Tamyra MENSAH and Adeline GRAY headline the entries for the Stars and Stripes. 

The two teams with the best record after their pair of group matches will meet in Sunday’s gold-medal match. The third and fourth-place match will feature the two teams with the second-best record in their groups and the remaining teams will meet for fifth and sixth place. 

Number of World Cup Titles 
Japan: 10 
China: 6
United States: 1

Saturday (November 16) 
10:30 – Mat A: JPN vs. UKR / Mat B: RUS vs. MGL 
12: 00 – Mat A: RUS vs. USA / Mat B: CHN vs. UKR 
16:30 – Opening Ceremony 
17:00 – Mat A: JPN vs. CHN / Mat B: USA vs. MGL

Sunday (November 17) 
8:00 – Medical Examination & Weigh-in
10:30 – Finals 5/6
13:00 – Finals 3/4
14:30 – Finals 1/2
16:00 – Award Ceremonies

Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) is one of five world champions that'll be wrestling at this weekend's Women's World Cup. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

2. Wrestlers to Watch: The Five World Champs
Five of the six teams entered into the Women’s Wrestling World Cup bring at least two returning world medalists – totaling 17 podium finishers from this year’s World Championships (Ukraine is the lone team without a 2019 world medalist entered). But, without a doubt, the five newly-crowned must-watch world champions are: 

55kg - Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA)
57kg - Risako KAWAI (USA)
62kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS)
68kg - Tamyra MENSAH (USA)
76kg - Adeline GRAY (USA)

Risako KAWAI (JPN) and Ningning RONG (CHN) met in the world finals at 57kg just over a month ago. They could square off again at this weekend's Women's World Cup. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

3. Weights to Watch: 57kg and 76kg 
The two can't-miss weights at this weekend’s Women’s Wrestling World Cup will be 57kg and 76kg. Both weight classes will feature the reigning world champion and the wrestler they defeated to win their world title. This means, there could be a pair of world finals rematches that take place this weekend.

Risako KAWAI (JPN) and Ningning RONG (CHN), who met in Nur-Sultan for the 57kg world title, could square off on Saturday night when Japan takes on China. That match will take place at 17:00 (local time).

Kawai is widely regarded as the top women’s wrestler in the world. Since winning her Rio Olympic title in 2016, Kawai has won three consecutive world titles. Her potential Chinese opponent, Ningning Rong, is a 2018 world champion and 2019 world runner-up. The highly emotional Chinese star is coming off a second consecutive year where she made the world finals, claimed a continental title and won at least three tournaments. 

Two other wrestlers that could cause Kawai and Rong fits at 57kg are ALTANTSETSEG Battsetseg (MGL) and Olena KREMZER (UKR). The 25-year-old Mongolian wrestler was a 2017 U23 world runner-up, while the Ukrainian wrestler was a 2018 U23 world bronze medalist. 

At 76kg, the two best women’s heavyweights in the world, Adeline Gray and Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN), could square off in a rematch of September’s 76kg finals, but that all depends on how the group stage plays out. Additionally, Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) and ZHOU Qian (CHN) will also wrestle at 76kg. Bukina is a Rio Olympic bronze medalist, and Zhou is a 2015 world runner-up. 

Reigning world champion Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) leads a loaded Russian team into Tehran for the Greco-Roman World Cup. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. Iran Set to Host Greco-Roman World Cup (November 28-29) 
Iran is gearing up to host the Greco-Roman World Cup for the seventh consecutive time. The two-day Greco-Roman World Cup kicks off November 28-29 in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium and will feature six teams -- which is the first time the event has housed less than eight teams since 2008. 

The Russian Federation, who are the defending champions, are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup titles since Iran did it in 2011 and ’12.  To earn their eighth overall World Cup team trophy, they’ll rely heavily on reigning world champion Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS), who’ll wrestle at 72kg. 

In addition to Mantsigov, Aleksandr CHEKHIRKIN, Stepan MARYANYAN and Sergey SEMENOV are will also compete on Russia's team at the Greco-Roman World Cup. The trio were all 2018 world champions, but Maryanan, who finished with a silver medal at this year’s World Championships, is the lone reigning medalist in the group of three. 

Outside of Russia’s loaded squad, six reigning world champs will travel to Tehran to compete in the Greco-Roman World Cup. 

The biggest storyline heading into the dual meet event is the potential Rio Olympic finals rematch between Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) and Shinobu OTA (JPN), which could be looming at 67kg. 

Borrero and Ota both won world titles in Nur-Sultan, but the Japanese wrestler will begin his ascent from his title-winning non-Olympic weight of 63kg to the Olympic weight of 67kg, where the Cuban wrestler is the current world-title holder. Shortly after winning his world title last month, Ota announced that he'd climb up 4kg to 67kg to make a run at improving his silver medal from the Rio Olympic Games, where he fell to Borrero in the finals.

In addition to Borrero, Mantsigov and Ota, the Greco-Roman World Cup will also welcome three other world champs. The returning world champs are: Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO), Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) and Lasha GOBADZE (GEO). 

Reigning World Champions Entered
55kg - Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO)
60kg - Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) 
67kg - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB)
67kg - Shinobu OTA (JPN)
72kg - Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS)
82kg - Lasha GOBADZE (GEO)

Two-time world and Olympic champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) highlights the list of entries at the Bill Farrell. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

5. Bill Farrell Live on FloWrestling.org 
The New York Athletic Club will host the first qualifier for America’s Olympic Team Trials, the Bill Farrell Memorial (November 16-17). The highest finisher at the six Olympic weight classes in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women's wrestling will cement their spot at April’s Tokyo Olympic Team Trials. 

Our friends at Flowrestling.org have the streaming rights to the event and have provided an early list of participants who are expected to compete. 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media

1. Big Move Monday -- Khoroshavtseva O. (RUS) -- Senior Worlds 2019
2. ‪Iszmail MUSZHKAJEV 🇭🇺: World Championship Highlights
3. Hassan YAZDANI 🇮🇷 World Championship Highlights
4. Behind the Scenes: Sadulaev and 97kg at #WrestleNurSultan
5. Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 put on a show at the #WrestleNurSultan World Championships — on and off the mat.

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! December 16, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing this week's All Japan Championships and U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier. Also looking at Amine winning San Marino’s Atleta Dell’Anno Athlete of the Year and recent modifications to the draw process and World Cup Events.

1. All Japan Championships (Emperors Cup) Begins Thursday
There’s no shortage of Japanese wrestling storylines for this week, as a star-studded cast of world and Olympic champions are set to take the mat at Tokyo’s Komazawa Gymnasium for the All-Japan Championships (also known as the Emperors Cup), which starts December 19-22. 

Among the list of all-stars that’ll be looking to win an Emperors Cup crown will be Sara DOSHO, Takuto OTOGURO, Shinobu OTA, Yui SUSAKI and Eri TOSAKA.

Dosho, the Rio Olympic champion, will have an uphill battle in booking her ticket to the Asian Olympic Qualifier, as she’ll be joined in the 68kg bracket by U23 world champions Masako FURUICHI and Yuka KAGAMI. 

Although 2017 world champion Otoguro punched Japan’s ticket to the Olympic Games at 65kg with a fifth-place finish in Nur-Sultan, he still needs to cement himself as the top guy in the country at the weight. He's the unquestionable favorite to win the weight.

Ota, this year’s 63kg world champion, will be wrestling up a weight at 67kg. He planned on dropping down to 60kg, but after Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) won the 60kg world title, he locked up his seat on Japan’s Olympic team at the weight. This left Ota with no other choice than to move up to the Olympic weight of 67kg. In his debut up at 67kg, Ota will look to challenge defending national champion Shogo TAKAHASHI, defending national runner-up Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA and last year’s U23 world champion Katsuaki ENDO, for the 67kg spot.

Yui Susaki, a two-time world champion and Olympic champion Eri Tosaka are both entered at 50kg. The pair of hammers will be joined by Yuki IRIE, who was Japan’s representative at the 2019 World Championships. 

The winners of each weight class will book their trip to Xi’an, China, for the Asian Olympic Qualifier, where they'll hope to qualify their respective weight classes for the Toyko Olympic Games.

The All Japan Championships can be followed on https://www.japan-wrestling.jp/2019/12/15/155990/.

2. Amine Named San Marino’s Athlete of the Year
Myles AMINE continues to have a life-defining year that he’ll surly never forget. Months after the 23-year-old became his nation's first-ever freestyle Olympian, Amine was named San Marino’s Atleta Dell’Anno Athlete of the Year. 

The award comes on the heels of Amine making San Marinian history at both the European Games and the World Championships. In June, Amine edged Alexander GOSTIYEV (AZE), 3-3, in the bronze-medal bout in Minsk and became the first wrestler from San Marino to win a medal at the European Games. Then, on the eighth day of wrestling in Nur-Sultan, Amine again made history for his nation when he advanced to the semifinals in the World Championships and clinched a spot at 86kg in the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Amine ultimately went on to finish in fifth place at the World Championships. And as expected, since the World Championships, Amine has announced that he’ll, in fact, be the 86kg representative for San Marino come August at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

3. Wrestling Announces New Format for Senior World Cup Events
United World Wrestling has announced a change in the format for Senior World Cup events. 

Senior World Cup events will now be held in November or early December of non-Olympic years. The events will be contested over two days, Friday and Saturday.  

The numbers of teams competing in each style will be reduced from eight to six. The top five wrestling nations from the previous Senior World Championships in each style will qualify for the event. In addition to the five qualified countries, an All-Star team will be selected based on the highest ranked wrestlers from the previous Senior World Championships who compete for non-qualified countries. 

The proposal was made by the Technical Commission and approved by the Executive Committee.

"We fully expect this new format to appeal to more fans from across the world," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic. "The addition of an All-Star team is unique. We are excited to see their impact on the event."

National Wrestling Federations and cities to are expected provide bids in the coming months. More details will be released in the new year.

4. Wrestling Modifies Draw, Brings Blockchain to the Mats
United World Wrestling has announced the implementation of a new draw process for competitions that includes the use of Blockchain technology to ensure a certifiably random assignment of athletes into competition brackets. The system, a first in the Olympic movement, has been reviewed, approved and applauded by the International Olympic Committee.

"We are always striving to improve our operations and guarantee total transparency in our draw process," said United World Wrestling IT Director Sebastien Guenat. " I'm happy we can introduce Blockchain as it will save us time during the draw of weight categories and ensure absolute random assignments."

The draws themselves will now only occur once per style. In effect, the draws will mean that athletes, coaches, and fans will be able to see some brackets up to three days in advance of the competition.

"This is a major step forward for us because it allows coaches to know in advance the opponent of their wrestlers in order to adjust their preparation," said United World Wrestling Sports Director Jean-Daniel Rey. "The process is always under review and these changes signal that we are ready to adapt to the needs of our coaches, athletes, and fans."

Click here for United World Wrestling's full release about the new draw process.

Spencer LEE (USA), the three-time age-group world champion, will make his freestyle return for the first time since 2016. (Photo: Justin Hoch)

5. Three-time World Champ Lee to Make Return this Week at U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier 
America’s most credential age-group wrestler, Spencer LEE (USA), is set to make his freestyle return this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, at the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier. The three-time age-group world champion will return to freestyle action for the first time since he won his 2016 junior world title in Macon, France. 

Lee’s return comes at a much-needed weight class for the United States where they have yet to qualify a spot for the Olympic Games, 57kg. Their Nur-Sultan representative Daton FIX (USA) dropped to a 12th place finish at the World Championships, which was the lowest finish at the weight for the Stars and Stripes since the 2014 World Championships and their second-lowest finish over the last decade.

Lee has to finish top-five this weekend to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which will take place in State College, Pennsylvania, on April 4-5.

Our friends at www.flowrestling.org have the streaming rights to the two-day tournament which kicks off Friday. Wrestling at the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier begins at 11:00 (local time) on December 20.

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media
1. Big Move Monday -- Valdes Tobiera A. @alejandrovaldestobier (CUB) -- Senior Worlds 2019 #WrestleNursultan
2. #TBT - Icho Wins Tenth and Final World Title
3. @hasan_yazdani73 leads Iran 🇮🇷 and China 🇨🇳 through a joint workout while the two countries train together in Iran.
4. Sunday smiles 😃!
5. India’s 🇮🇳 Deepak PUNIA has been named United World Wrestling’s Junior Freestyle Wrestler of the Year.