Zhou Erases Eight-Point Deficit, Downs World Champ Mensah

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (January 16) --- It's no secret that ZHOU Feng (CHN) was the underdog coming into her Matteo Pellicone finals against reigning world champion Tamyra MENSAH (USA), and though she fell behind by eight points, she remained composed enough to erase an 8-0 second-period deficit to win the 68kg gold medal. Zhou’s shocking win stopped Mensah, the 2019 Women's Wrestler of the Year, from winning her fourth consecutive Ranking Series title.

“For the first period, I didn’t feel prepared or ready, but I didn’t give up,” said Zhou. At that point of the match, Zhou surrendered three takedowns and a trapped arm gut and trailed 8-0. “I was thinking the match is not finished and I didn’t give up.” 

Zhou, a two-time world medalist, kickstarted her unexpected comeback with two points from a defensive stop, which ended in a takedown. She tacked on six additional points from three gut wrenches and closed out the match on top, 8-8. 

After her remarkable come-from-behind win, Zhou said, “I’m happy and excited. From this competition, most of (these wrestlers) will participate in the Olympic Games, so to get the gold medal makes me very happy.” 

Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) downed Anshu ANSHU (IND), 10-0, in the 57kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 57kg, a friendly wager between two presidents sparked three-time world medalist Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) past Anshu ANSHU (IND) for the gold medal. Understanding the wager was a joke, and with a smile on her face, the long and lengthy Adekuoroye said, “Before the match, my president and one other president had a bet that I’d maybe lose to (Anshu). So, I told him to keep calm; I’m ready for the match. I’m happy to make him proud.” 

The Nigerian, who was last year’s world bronze medalist at 57kg, quickly handled Anshu in the finals, 10-0. She scored an early takedown off a single leg, then picked up eight straight points off exposures – six of which came from a match-ending leg lace.

“I came here to win a gold medal. For me, it’s not like a surprise, and I look forward to some matches again.”

Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) fought through illness to win the 62kg title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Even though the reigning world champion Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) has been fighting through a nasty illness since the start of the year, she decided to still compete at the Matteo Pellicone. “At the beginning of this year, I got sick and ill, so I wasn’t 100% ready for the competition,” Tynybekova said. “And, actually, before this final, my coach thought I should not go on the mat because of my illness.”

But, midway through today’s session, she felt strong enough to compete in the medal-match session. And luckily for her, she didn’t have to wrestle the entire six minutes. 

She only wrestled for just over a period – three minutes and 16 seconds to be exact -- and after leading 7-2, was awarded the gold medal when 2019 world silver medalist Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) broke her nose in the second period and injury defaulted out of the finals.  

“In the final match, I didn’t give my 100%. In my mind, I planned on keeping my energy and strength to wrestle for the two periods. But, accidentally, my Russian opponent couldn’t continue.” 

Erica WIEBE (CAN) wrapped up her 76kg finals match against ZHOU Qian (CHN) in the opening period after a takedown, followed by four leg laces. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In the 76kg finals, Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) ended her gold-medal bout against two-time world medalist ZHOU Qian (CHN) in the opening period with a 10-0 shutout victory. 

“When I get into wrestling position, that’s when it gets really fun. She went for kind of a double leg, I redirected, went behind, we get into a scramble, and that’s what wrestling is all about.” 

Wiebe barrel-rolled into four straight leg laces and ended the match 10-0 in the first period. Jokingly, Wiebe said, “I’ve been working on my lace. Watch out world!” 

Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) scored the come-from-behind fall over Selcuk CAN (TUR) in the 72kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Zotlan LEVAI (HUN) and Singh GURPREET (IND) closed out the Greco-Roman portion of the competition with gold medals on Thursday night. 

Elsayed and Levai picked up falls in the 72kg and 77kg finals, respectively, while Gurpreet scored the 8-5 victory over Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) in the 82kg finals. 

Elsayed, a two-time U23 world champion, trailed 5-1 but flattened Selcuk CAN (TUR) in the 72kg finals and backflipped his way to a second career Ranking Series title. And after a pair of Ranking Series final losses, Levai finally got his long-awaited gold medal when he stuck Yunus BASAR (TUR) in the 77kg finals. 

The third day of wrestling at the Matteo Pellicone kicks off on Friday at 10:30 (local time) in Ostia, Italy.

GOLD - Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) df. Anshu ANSHU (IND), 10-0 
BRONZE - Linda MORAIS (CAN) df. Jenna Rose BURKERT (USA), 10-0 
BRONZE - Allison Mackenzie RAGAN (USA) df. Alina AKOBIIA (UKR), 4-4 

GOLD - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS), via injury default
BRONZE - Jia LONG (CHN) df. Kayla MIRACLE (USA), 6-1 

GOLD - Feng ZHOU (CHN) df. Tamyra MENSAH (USA), 8-8
BRONZE - Danielle LAPPAGE (CAN) df. Divya KAKRAN (IND), 12-2

GOLD - Erica Elizabeth WIEBE (CAN) vs. Qian ZHOU (CHN), 10-0
BRONZE - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ), via injury

GOLD - Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed Ibrahi ELSAYED (EGY) df. Selcuk CAN (TUR), via fall 
BRONZE - Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) df. Parviz NASIBOV (UKR), 6 - 0
BRONZE - Maksym YEVTUSHENKO (UKR) df. Gaoquan ZHANG (CHN), 5-3 

GOLD - Zotlan LEVAI (HUN) df. Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR), via fall 
BRONZE - Wuileixis RIVAS ESPINOZA (VEN) df. Ravaughn Richard Ravelle PERKINS (USA), 8 - 2
BRONZE - Sajan SAJAN (IND) df. Emrah KUS (TUR), via fall 

GOLD - Singh GURPREET (IND) df. Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), 8-5
BRONZE - Florian NEUMAIER (GER) df. John Walter STEFANOWICZ JR (USA), 5 - 1
BRONZE - Salih AYDIN (TUR) df. Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB), 6-5


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