16 Reigning Champs Entered into #WrestleWarsaw Euro C'ships

By Eric Olanowski

WARSAW, Poland (April 16) -- The European Championships start next week in Poland with more than half of 2020's champions returning to the mat for wrestling's premier continental event. 

A total of seven champions will return in women's wrestling, joined by five in freestyle and four in Greco-Roman. The 2020 European Championships were held in Rome just prior to the worldwide shutdown of sports in March of that year.

Grace BULLEN (NOR) and Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) won titles at 57kg and 59kg respectively in 2020, but both opting for 59kg in '21. The Norwegian two-time European champion traditionally wrestles at the Olympic weight of 57kg, but she's moving up to conserve energy for the final Olympic Qualification event of the year, the World Olympic Qualifier (May 5-9) in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Two-time world gold medalist and reigning Euro champ Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) is the favorite at 53kg, but last year's 55kg top-two finishers, respectively, Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) Mariia VYNNYK (UKR), are looking to take out the Belarusian.

Miglena SELISHKA enters the European Championships fresh off winning the European Olympic Qualifier event, where she punched Bulgaria's ticket to the Olympic Games at 50kg. For her to win a second consecutive European title, Selishka will have to navigate a 50kg bracket that'll feature Mariya STADNIK (AZE), Emilia Alina VUC (ROU) and Ekaterina POLESHCHUK (RUS). Stadnik was the '19 world champion, while Vuc and Poleshchuk finished with silver and bronze, respectively. Other threats include world bronze medalists Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR) and Oksana LIVACH (UKR).

The final pair of women's wrestling '20 champions are the Russian one-two-punch of Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) and Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS).

Velieva, who qualified Russia for the Olympic Games with a second-place finish at the European Olympic Qualifier, is entered at 68kg. She'll share the bracket with European Olympic Qualifier champion and fellow Tokyo Olympian Koumba LARROQUE (FRA).

Vorobeva, the London Olympic champion, replaced defending champion Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) at 76kg. Other returning medalist entered at 76kg include bronze medalists Aline ROTTER FOCKEN (GER) and Iselin SOLHEIM (NOR).

Freestyle will feature five men with aspirations to defend their European golds.

Reigning three-time heavyweight champion of the world Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) highlights the long list of star-studded freestyle entries. The 27-year-old Georgian's likely path to a third European title will go through his long-time rival and seven-time continental champion Taha AKGUL (TUR).

At 74kg, Frank CHAMIZO MARQUEZ (ITA) is looking to win a third straight European title and fifth overall. Standing in the Italian's way will be the man who defeated him in the finals at the Individual World Cup Razambek ZHAMALOV (RUS). Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO), the '21 European Olympic Qualifier champion and '18 world runner-up, is also entered at 74kg.

Russia's '19 86kg world bronze medalist Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) will be making his third appearance at the European Championships. He's undefeated in those past two trips and won golds in '18 and '20. Fellow Tokyo Olympians Myles AMINE (SMR), Osman GOCEN (TUR), Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) and Ali SHABANAU (BLR) will also compete at 86kg.

Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) and Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) claimed gold in Rome last year at the none Olympic weights of 70kg and 92kg, respectively. Gadzhiev, who is coming off a 65kg fifth-place finish at the Olympic Qualifier event, will move back up to the non-Olympic weight of 70kg. Karadeniz, who qualified Turkey for the Olympic Games at 97kg, is staying put at the Olympic weight.

Three-time world champion Frank STAEBLER (GER) is on a quest to win a third European title. He's entered at 72kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

In Greco-Roman, there will be a quartet of returning champions.

It's no secret that Germany's three-time world champion Frank STAEBLER (GER) struggles to make 67kg. So, for a second year, the "Mele Machine" will try to win European gold at 72kg. If he wins, he'll match his continental gold tally with his world gold total.

But, to win that third continental gold, Staebler will have to get through '20 European bronze medalist Selcuk CAN (TUR) and Individual World Cup finalist Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM).

At 130kg, Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) was the first wrestler not named Riza KAYAALP (TUR) to win a 130kg European title since '12. Kayaalp, who fell to an uncharacteristic seventh-place finish last year, is heading into Warsaw with a tenth continental gold on his mind.

Gevorg GHARIBYAN (ARM) and Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) are the final pair of returning gold medalists. They'll compete at 60kg and 77kg, respectively.

The European Championships start on April 19-25 in Warsaw, Poland, and can be followed live on www.uww.org.


Evloev Captures Gold as Russia Clean Sweeps Euros

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (April 25) -- Musa EVLOEV (RUS) is quickly establishing himself as one of the Greco-Roman greats around the world.

Ever since he captured the World title in 2018, he continues to rise to the top and on Sunday, he took another step in that direction, winning his second European title at 97kg as the senior continental Championships came to a close in Warsaw, Poland.

The 28-year-old wrestled in the final bout of the day and it wasn't even a match. Veteran Balazs KISS (HUN) tried to give a fight but Evloev was in no mood to waste time. With a series of par terre rolls, Evloev captured the gold medal with a 10-0 win in just one minute and 33 seconds.

His gold confirmed the team title for Russia as it clean swept the Championships, winning the freestyle, women's and the Greco-Roman team titles over the past seven days at the Sportowa COS Torwar stadium which is out-of-bounds for spectators.

As Evloev ascends to the top, he will be the favorite to win the gold medal in Tokyo Olympics, a title he will have to take from Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM), just like the World title in 2018.

Aleksanyan captured the World and Olympic titles from 2014 to 2017 until Evloev defeated him in the semifinal at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest. Since then, Evloev has two more wins over the Armenian, one at the 2019 World Championships and the other at the Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia last year.

Meanwhile, two-time junior world champion Kerem KAMAL (TUR) will have to wait for his first senior European Championships title. For the second consecutive year, he went home with a silver medal after he lost Sunday's final against Sergey EMELIN (RUS) 1-4.

Despite the aggression of Kamal, former world champion Emelin kept his composure throughout the 60kg final to reclaim his European title which he had lost to Victor CIOBANU (MDA) in 2019.

Sergey EMELIN (RUS) European Championships 2021

Emelin, who won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, was trailing 0-1 to Kamal at the break as he was warned for passivity. Kamal had a 5-0 lead after a big throw just before the break but a successful challenge from Russia showed there was no exposure, reversing the score to 1-0.

A minute and a half into the second period, Kamal was warned for passivity and Emelin scored on par terre, claiming a 3-1 lead. Kamal did try to score but was unsuccessful and with just two seconds left, he challenged for a point for stepout which was denied, giving the Russian the win and the first gold medal of the day.

The hopes of the home gold for Mateusz BERNATEK (POL) were dashed as Mate NEMES (SRB) dominated the final at 67kg to win the gold medal. Nemes gave his country the second gold medal in Warsaw after Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) won the gold at 87kg on Saturday.

Just 30 seconds into the final, Nemes came up with a big over the shoulder four-point throw to take the lead. With 30 seconds left for the break Bernatek was warned for passivity but he successfully defended his par terre position.

As Nemes closed-in on victory, he was warned for passivity and gave up two points for it. But as Bernatek tried desperate attempts, he was warned for using his head and penalized for two points. Nemes won the gold medal 7-2.

By winning the title, the 2019 bronze medalist from the Nursultan World Championships did what his twin brother Viktor NEMES (SRB), a former world champion, could not in three attempts.

Georgia also put its name on the title list with a gold medal at 72kg. Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) put on a defensive show to capture the gold by defeating junior world and European champion Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) 4-1.

The Georgian Olympic bronze medalist rode on his luck in the final as he was awarded two points on a lost challenge from Armenia. After being called passive a minute and 17 seconds into the bout, Bolkvadze defended the par terre position. Amoyan almost got the exposure but it was given clean by the referee, prompting Amoyan to challenge the call.

Not only he lost the challenge, the jury decided to give two points to Bolkvadze for exposing Amoyan to his back, leading 3-1. A passivity against Amoyan increased the lead to 4-1 and Bolkvadze defended it till the end to win the gold medal for his country.

Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) European Championships 2021
Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) won the gold medal at 72kg in Warsaw. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Participating in the European Championships after a gap of four years, Adlan AKIEV (RUS) made a golden return as he became the champion of the 82kg category, giving Russia their second gold medal of the night.

After reaching his first-ever European final, Akiev finished things in style by winning the gold medal 11-1 against Radzik KULIYEU (BLR).

The deadlock was broken at 1:28 when Kuliyeu was given passive and Akiev got the exposure for two from a throw. A minute later, the Russian produced an over the shoulder throw to get two more and lead 5-0 at the break.

One minute and 20 seconds into the second period, Akiev was called passive but Kuliyev failed to get in correct position and the referee called for center, leaving the score 5-1 for Akiev.

A two-point exposure and a four-point move finished the bout with an 11-1 win for Akiev, which more or less confirmed the team title for Russia with one Evloev's gold medal bout yet to be played.

Adlan AKIEV (RUS) European Championships 2021

Greco-Roman Medal Results Day 7

GOLD - Sergey EMELIN (RUS) df. Kerem KAMAL (TUR), 4-1

BRONZE - Grzegorz KUNKEL (POL) df. Razvan ARNAUT (ROU), 6-0
BRONZE - Viktor PETRYK (UKR) df. MAKARANKA Bread (BLR), 5-1

GOLD - Mate NEMES (SRB) df. Mateusz BERNATEK (POL), 7-2

BRONZE - Murat FIRAT (TUR) df. Zaur KABALOEV (ITA), 3-1
BRONZE - Slavik GALSTYAN (ARM) df. Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), 9-0

GOLD - Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM), 4-1

BRONZE - Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) df. Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS), 3-0

GOLD - Adlan AKIEV (RUS) df. Radzik KULIYEU (BLR), 11-0

BRONZE - Aivengo RIKADZE (GEO) df. Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), 3-2
BRONZE - Hannes WAGNER (GER) vs. Rajbek Alvievich BISULTANOV (DEN), 3-1

GOLD - Musa EVLOEV (RUS) df. Balazs KISS (HUN), 8-0

BRONZE - Mikalai STADUB (BLR) df. Zamir MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 3-1