Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! October 22, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Reviewing the U23 World Championships which start next Monday and Yanan SUN'S quest for Olympic Gold. Also looking at results from the World Military Games, Akhmad Kadyrov Cup and much more. 

1. U23 World Championships Less Than a Week Away
The U23 World Championships begin next Monday (October 28) in Budapest, Hungary, and 35 of the 631 registered athletes are returning U23 world medalists -- including ten reigning champions. 

Greco-Roman will house five of the ten returning gold medalists. There will be three freestyle wrestlers who’ll look to defend their titles, and a pair of women’s wrestling champs from a year ago.  

Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO), who last month reached the top of the senior world podium in Nur-Sultan, headlines the lengthy list of returning Greco-Roman U23 world gold medalists. His fellow compatriot, Zviadi PATARIDZE (GEO), will look to defend his U23 world title from a year ago. The Georgian big man is chasing his seventh age-group world title. 

Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) and Katsuaki ENDO (JPN) are both entered at 67kg, which could set up a colossal matchup of returning U23 gold-medal winners from last season. El Sayed is coming off a fifth-place finish in Nur-Sultan, where he qualified Egypt for the 2020 Olympic Games at 67kg. 

The fifth and final Greco-Roman champ from a year ago is Semen NOVIKOV (UKR). He’s entered at 87kg. 

Freestyle’s three 2018 gold-medal winners are Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK), Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) and Shamil ZUBAIROV (AZE). They'll compete at 74kg, 86kg and 92kg, respectively. 

Japan's Saki IGARASHI (55kg) and China's Paliha PALIHA (76kg) are the two women’s wrestlers who are on a quest to repeat as U23 world champions. Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ) and Andreea ANA (ROU), who finished with bronze medals at the 2018 U23 World Championships, will join Igarashi in the 55kg bracket, while Paliha is the lone returning medalist entered at 76kg. 

The full list of the 631 wrestlers will be released this week on www.unitedworldwrestling.org. 

2. Rising Sun: Chinese Star Aims for Olympic Glory in Land of Top Rivals
Once SUN Yanan (CHN) made the bold decision at 15 to leave home for the unknown to pursue a wrestling career, she knew there was no turning back.

"At the beginning, I told myself I needed to be independent because I already left home," she recalls. "I cannot go back. If I go back, it would be shameful."

Sun has never looked back and, despite her late start in the sport, has forged a solid career that includes a world gold medal, an Olympic bronze and numerous other laurels. After a setback at the recent World Championships, the 27-year-old has her sights set firmly on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"Step by step, I felt I really enjoyed wrestling and it already became part of my life," Sun says of her development in the sport. "And I wanted to realize my dream to be more confident and become a perfect lady because of wrestling. I really grew up."

The 27-year-old Sun speaks easily and openly through an interpreter during an interview at last week's Tokyo 2020 test event, a women's tournament in the six Olympic weights. While Sun attended with the Chinese team but did not take part, the trip gave her a first glimpse of the Olympic venue, located in the Makuhari Messe convention center in neighboring Chiba city.

"I'm very excited when I imagine that next year maybe I will compete here at the Olympics," she says. "I hope I can be much stronger and show my best next year."

Sun secured a spot for China at 50kg by placing fifth at the World Championships in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan last month. Although she finished out of the medals, she showed she could still be a factor in the weight class.

Click HERE to read Ken Marantz’s full feature on Yanan SUN (CHN). 

Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) was one of three Russian wrestlers who won a World Military Games gold medal. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

3. Russia Opens Up World Military Games with Three Freestyle Golds 
Russia kicked off the 7th CISM World Military Games in Wuhan, China, by going three-for-three in gold-medal matches, while The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Gwang un PAK (57kg) won the fourth Day 1 gold medal. Taha AKGUL (TUR) and Hossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) claimed the remaining pair of freestyle gold medals, which came on the second day of wrestling in China.  

The three Russian champions were headlined by the 65kg reigning world champion, Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS). His fellow Russian compatriots who also won gold at the World Military Games were Khetik TSABALOV (RUS) and Artur NAIFONOV (RUS). Those two won the 74kg and 86kg titles, respectively. 

Rashidov, the now-three-time world finalist, outscored his four opponents 41-0 en route to his first World Military Games title. That 41-0 mark includes a 10-0 win over Vasyl SHUPTAR (UKR) in the 65kg finals. In addition to his 10-0 win over Shuptar in the finals, Rashidov also grabbed technical superiority victories over Gerchek HEMRAYEV (TKM), TIAN Zhenguang (CHN) and Bavyrzhan TOREBEK (KAZ). 

Tsavolov, a 2014 world champion and 2017 world silver medalist, took down Nurkoza KAIPANOV (KAZ), 12-0, in the 74kg finals. Artur Naifonov, a 2019 world bronze medalist, defeated Ahmed DUDAROV (GER), 10-0, in the finals at 86kg. 

Gwang un Pak, who hung on to defeat Andrei DUKOV (ROU), 2-2, was awarded the fourth opening day gold medal. 

On the second day of wrestling, Turkey’s Rio Olympic champion Taha Akgul blanked Yadollah MOHEBI (IRI), 3-0, in the 125kg finals and Iran's Hossein Mohammadian defeated Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (BLR), 3-1, to claim gold at 97kg. 

Click here for full results from the 7th CISM World Military Games.

57kg – Gwang un PAK (PRK) df. Andrei DUKOV (ROU), 2-2 
65kg – Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) df. Vasyl SUPTAR (UKR), 10-0 
74kg – Khetik TSABALOV (RUS) df. Nurkoza KAIPANOV (KAZ), 12-0 
86kg – Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Ahmed DUDAROV (GER), 10-0 
97kg – Hossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) df. Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (BLR), 3-1
125kg – Taha AKGUL (TUR) df. Yadollah MOHEBI (IRI), 3-0 

Two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS) grabbed the 74kg gold medal at the Akhmad Kadyrov Cup. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

4. Gazimagomedov Grabs 74kg Gold at Akhmad Kadyrov Cup; Olympic Champ Ramonov Returns 
Chechnya’s capital city of Grozny hosted the Akhmad Kadyrov Cup last weekend, and two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS) highlighted the list of ten Russian winners. 

Gazimagomedov, up from his Budapest world-title winning weight of 70kg, won his first 74kg competition after a third-place finish at July’s Russian National Championships. His win in the finals came over Musa BAZIEV (RUS). 

Another notable champion was Akhmed CHAKAEV (RUS). The two-time world bronze medalist won his third consecutive Akhmad Kadyrov Cup with a win over Muslim SAJDULAEV (RUS) in the 65kg finals. 

Outside of the champions, Rio Olympic gold medalist Soslan RAMONOV (RUS) returned to the mat after a 13-month layoff. He was recovering from back surgery. Ramonov finished in second place at 70kg, dropping his finals match to Rasul ARSANALIEV (RUS). After his runner-up finish, Ramonov took to his social media account to announce that he’ll be heading back down to his Olympic gold-winning weight of 65kg for this weekend's Vladimir Semenov Memorial -- which takes place in Nefteyugansk, Russia. 

In that post, Ramonov roughly said, “After a year's pause, the first start, yesterday I enjoyed the fights. Today I was completely empty! Unfortunately, my body was not ready to go through the whole tournament...but this is all fixable. I will work even more. The next competition is in a week, at 65kg in the city of Nefteyugansk."

57kg - Muslim SADULAEV (RUS) df. Abubakar MUTALIEV (RUS)
61kg - Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (RUS) df. Muslim MEHTIKHANOV (RUS)
65kg - Akhmed CHAKAEV (RUS) df. Muslim SAJDULAEV (RUS)
70kg - Rasul ARSANALIEV (RUS) df. Soslan RAMONOV (RUS)
74kg - Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS) df. Musa BAZIEV (RUS)
79kg - Kahaber HUBEZHTY (RUS) df. Adam KHASIEV (RUS)
86kg - Muslim DADAEV (RUS) df. Dzhabrail SHAPIEV (UZB)
92kg - Anzor URISHEV (RUS) df. George RUBAEV (MDA)
97kg - Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) df. Tamerlan RASUEV (RUS)
125kg - Batradz GAZZAYEV (RUS) df. Baldan TSYZYPOV (RUS)

Haji ALIYEV (AZE), a three-time world champion, will have to travel to the European Olympic Qualifier to lock up Azerbaijan's spot at the Toyko Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

5. European Olympic Qualifier: Who Hasn't Qualified at 65kg 
The first six Olympic berths at each weight were claimed at the Nur-Sultan World Championships, and countless world medalists still have a lot of work to do to get their nation’s spot locked up for next August’s Tokyo Olympic Games. In particular, two of Europe’s best 65kg wrestlers are still in jeopardy of missing the Olympic Games, but still have two shots at locking up their nation’s spot. 

At 65kg, there are only two continents who have qualified spots for the Olympics. Those continents are Asia and Europe. Asian nations have four wrestlers, while European countries have two wrestlers. But missing out of those European qualifiers are two of the best wrestlers in the world at the weight, Haji ALIYEV (AZE) and Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO). 

Aliyev, a three-time world champion, failed to qualify Azerbaijan for the Olympics at 65kg. The Rio Olympic bronze medalist dropped his opening round match at the World Championships to eventual world champion Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS). Then, Aliyev scored a 10-1 win over Reda HUSSEN (EGY) in his first repechage match but fell to 2018 world champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) in a heartbreaking 11-9 match. He was knocked out of the tournament after his second loss and finished in 12th place. 

Khinchegashvili, a Rio Olympic champion and London silver medalist, also failed to qualify his nation for the Toyko Olympic Games. The Georgian opened up his 2019 World Championships campaign with a 4-0 win over YUN Junsik (KOR) but lost 5-1 in his next match to eventual bronze medalist Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN). The Hungarian dropped a 3-2 nail biter against Rashidov -- knocking Khinchegashvili out of the tournament with a 22nd-place finish. 

The pair will have to travel to the European Olympic Qualifier in Budapest, Hungary (March 19 – 22) and finish top-two to qualify Azerbaijan and Georgia for the Olympic Games at 65kg. If they fail to make the finals in Budapest, their last opportunity will be the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria (April 30 – May 03). 

Qualified Nation – Qualifying Wrestler 
RUS via Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (Europe)
KAZ via Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (Asia) 
IND via Bajrang BAJRANG (Asia)
HUN via Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (Europe) 
JPN via Takuto OTOGURO (Asia)
MGL via Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (Asia)

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media

1. Big Move Monday -- Sahakyan G. (POL) @gevorguww -- Senior Worlds 2019
2. The largest Referee and Coaches course ... EVER! More than 300 participants in Wuhan, China delivered by Ibrahim CICIOGLU (TUR).
3. #ScoreThat - Who came out on top of this exchange? Was it blue (@lorincztomi12) or red (@alexkessidis)?
4.  Which World Champion becomes Olympic Champion? 
5.  Happy Friday, Wrestling Fans!

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! March 17, 2020

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Valencia Escoto and Destribats' historic performances at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifiers. Also looking at Cuba's GR team qualifying every weight for #Tokyo2020 and Olympic champs Maroulis and Wiebe qualifying their nation's for the Tokyo Games.

1. Valencia Escoto First Mexican Woman to Qualify for Olympic Games
Alma Jane VALENCIA ESCOTO (MEX) became the first-ever Mexican women's wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games after winning the 57kg gold medal at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. She won all four of her bouts in Ottawa – including a win by fall over world champion Linda MORAIS (CAN) and a victory via forfeit over Helen MAROULIS (USA).

Valencia Escoto opened her day up with a pair of decisive wins over Betzabeth SARCO COLMENAREZ (VEN) and Nes RODRIGUEZ TIRADO (PUR), which inserted her into the semifinals against Canada's reigning world champion, Linda Morais. 

In her semifinals meeting with the current 59kg world-title holder, Valencia Escoto stopped an early open double-leg attempt with a counter-offensive throw. She snuck in an underhook on the Canadian's right side during her shot attempt and tossed her to her back for the early 4-0 lead. 

Valencia Escoto's opponenet fought off her back and nearly scored a takedown of a slide by attempt. Still, somehow, the newly-minted Olympian had the world champion fighting off her back for the second time in the opening period. 

The tides turned quickly, and Valencia Escoto was the one fighting off her back. She got saved by the period-ending whistle and carried the 6-2 lead into the closing period.

In the final period, Valencia Escoto halted a left side high crotch attempt and flattened Morais for the fall – becoming the first-ever Mexican women to wrestle at the Olympic Games.

Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) finished in second place at 65kg at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier and qualified Argentina for the Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

2. Destribats Ends 24-year Argentinean Freestyle Olympic Drought
Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) ended a 24-year Argentinean freestyle Olympic drought and qualified his nation for the Tokyo Olympics after he pinned American Zain RETHERFORD (USA) in the 65kg semifinals. With his semifinal victory via fall, Destribats became the first Argentinean freestyle wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games since Paulo IBIRE (ARG) did so at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

In his meeting with the Retherford, Destribats conceded an open double leg and nearly gave up an ankle lace but was able to fend off the turn and catch the American on his back. He held Retherford on his back for 25 seconds before picking up the opening period fall to secure his spot at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Helen MAROULIS (USA) qualified the United States for the Olympic Games at 57kg with her silver-medal finish at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

3. Olympic Champs Maroulis and Wiebe Qualify Nation's for Olympic Games 
Olympic champions Helen MAROULIS (USA) and Erica WIEBE (CAN) qualified their nations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing in the top-two of their respective weights at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. The pair remained on course to defend their gold medals from the Rio Olympic Games. 

Maroulis, who was wrestling in her first international competition since the 2018 World Championships, won four matches before injury defaulting out of the finals after locking up the United States' spot at 57kg for the Olympics.

In her first match, Maroulis easily handled Canada's Linda Morias, 10-2, in the battle of Olympic champion and world champion. 

Maroulis defeated Giullia RODRIGUES (BRA) and Lissette ANTES (ECU) in the next two rounds and was one win away from earning a second berth to the Olympic Games for the United States. 

In the semifinals, Maroulis crushed Nes RODRIGUEZ (PUR), 10-0, and qualified the Stars and Stripes for the Olympic Games at 57kg. 

She'll now have to win the Olympic Trials to become the United States' Olympic representative at 57kg.

Canada's Erica Wiebe was the second Olympic champion who qualified for the Olympic Games over the weekend. Wiebe, who was wrestling in her hometown of Ottawa, won the 76kg bracket and locked up her shot at repeating as Olympic champion. 

She opened up her day with a narrow 2-1 win over Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA). She tacked on dominant wins over Milaimys de la Caridad MARIN POTRILLE (CUB) and Andrimar LAZARO (VEN), setting up a semifinals match with Genesis REASCO (ECU).

Wiebe shutout Reasco Valdez, 6-0, in their semifinals meeting and earned her berth to the Olympic Games. She injury defaulted out of the gold-medal match against Aline Da Silva Ferreira and finished with a silver medal.

Wiebe won the Canadian Wrestling Trails in December and will represent Canada at 76kg at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) is one of six Cuban Greco-Roman wrestlers who will wrestle at the Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo) 

4. Cuba Sending All Six GR Wrestlers to Olympics 
Cuba’s Greco-Roman team came into the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier searching for four qualification spots after earning two Olympic berths from the Nur-Sultan World Championships from Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB). Over the weekend, they had three wrestlers win gold medals and one individual finish in second place at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier – which took their qualification total to all six weight categories. 

Their three champions were Luis Alberto ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB), Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) and Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB), while Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) finished in second place.

In addition to their Greco-Roman success, Cuba's women's wrestling team also shined in Ottawa. 

Coming into the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier, Katherine VIDIAUX (CUB) was the lone Cuban woman who ever wrestled at the Olympic Games. She'll now be joined in the history books by Lianna MONTERO (CUB) and Yusneylis GUZMAN (CUB), who won gold medals at 50kg and 53kg, respectively, and qualified for the Olympic Games. 

Greco-Roman Qualifying Weights/Athletes
60kg - Luis Alberto ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold 
67kg - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) – World Championships gold 
77kg - Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold
87kg - Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier silver
97kg - Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold
130kg - Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB) World Championships silver

5. European, World 'Last Chance' Olympic Qualifiers Postponed
The European Qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled for March 19-22 in Budapest, along with the World "Last Chance" Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, scheduled for April 30-May 3, have been postponed.

The events will be rescheduled, with the European Qualifier expected to take place in mid-May and the World "Last Chance" Qualifier held at the beginning of June.

"We are closely monitoring the governmental response to COVID-19 and will continue to provide updates to our wrestlers, coaches, and fans with more information as it becomes available," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic.

"The process for determining our Olympic participants will happen on the field of play, but we need to remain patient and vigilant as the worldwide community battles this pandemic. The health and well-being of the athletes is an absolute priority."