Abakarov, Gadzhiev Hungry for More after Taking Azerbaijan to Team Title
Sunday, March 13, 2022 - 20:12 By Vinay Siwach
PLOVDIV, Bulgaria (March 13) -- Azerbaijan could not have asked for better preparation for the senior European Championships. It won four gold and three bronze at the U23 European Championships to claim the freestyle team title to make a serious statement before Budapest.
Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) and Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE) were the two stars Sunday as they won the gold at 74kg and 86kg respectively, further establishing themselves as big names in the two Olympic weight classes.
Abakarov, who won a bronze medal at the Oslo World Championships, needed only 42 seconds against Lilian BALAN (MDA) to win 10-0. A combination of arm trap and gut-wrench helped him to win the gold with ease but he is looking at the bigger picture.
"I could win easily today," Abakarov said. "But this competition is not the main one since I compete at the senior level.
"For me, the senior European Championship is more important now. I haven’t been training for a while because of the injury and this was a trial event for me."
Since jumping to 86kg in 2020 in a bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Abakarov has had mixed success. But he wants to start this Olympic cycle on a better note.
"I feel that I can compete at a higher level," he said. "I hope I’ll be a leader of this weight class by the time of the Paris Olympics."
That will take some doing as Olympic champion David TAYLOR (USA) and world champion Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) have dominated the weight class for more than six years now. Abakarov wrestled Taylor in Oslo and even scored points on him before losing.
"It was our first match and next time I’ll be more confident," he said. "I’ll be ready to wrestle against the leaders. I should work on my physical shape as all the wrestlers from this weight category like Taylor, Yazdani, Naifonov are physically very well prepared."
The former U23 world silver medalist also praised fellow gold medalists Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE) and Gadzhiev.
"I think that Gadzhiev at 74kg is good enough to compete at senior level," he said. "Bayramov at 65kg is also a good wrestler even though he is still young [21-years-old]. In a year or two, he will compete against the leaders."
Dzhabrail GAZHIEV (AZE), blue, is now a two-time U23 European champion. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)
Gadzhiev wrestled for the full period of his 74kg final against Krisztian BIRO (ROU) and won 8-1. After being called passive in the first period, he went for a four-pointer and lead 4-1. He then earned two more points with a double-leg and continued for a leg-lace to make it 8-1. He was happy to hold on to his lead until the clock expired.
"Everything worked out successfully," Gadzhiev said. "It wasn’t easy at all. All the wrestlers are well prepared. But it's Azerbaijan's common success and our hard work."
Gadzhiev had won the 70kg U23 European title last year but he thinks that 74kg is a better category for him. But Azerbaijan has a two-way battle at 74kg with U23 world champion and Tokyo Olympian Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) also looking to stay at the same weight. But the two wrestled in the final at the Dan Kolov Invitation tournament last month with Gadzhiev winning the bout 2-1.
"At 74kg all the wrestlers are very good, but I want to be the leader," he said. "If I really want to achieve results, with the help of God I will get it. I came here with my coaches to become a champion. It was my prior intention to win the European championship."
Emrah ORMANOGLU (TUR) won the gold medal 61kg. (Photo: UWW / Konstadin Andonov)
Turkey also won two gold medals but finished eight points behind Azerbaijan in the team race with 151 points. Emrah ORMANOGLU (TUR) defeated Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA), 4-1 in the 61kg final while Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) beat Joshua MORODION (GER), 10-0 in the 92kg final.
Ormanoglu was passive in the first period while Arsamerzouev was called passive in the second period. But the Turkey wrestler scored a stepout in the activity time to lead 2-1. Arsamerzouev tried hard to get a point for the win but failed. A desperate arm-spin ended in Ormanoglu getting a takedown and two points.
Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) won the gold medal at 92kg. (Photo: UWW / Konstadin Andonov)
At 92kg, Akturk and Morodion were involved in a slow-paced final with the former scoring all 10 points via stepout.
The fifth gold of the night went to Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO) as he denied Milan KORCSOG (HUN) from becoming his country's first-ever U23 European champion. In the 8-1 win, Manashvili never looked in trouble and overpowered Korcsog.
His gold helped Georgia win the third spot in the team race as they finished with 149 points, just two behind Turkey.
A few of these wrestlers will now be in Budapest, Hungary as the action shifts to the senior European Championships, the second continental championships of the year.
GOLD: Emrah ORMANOGLU (TUR) df Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA), 4-1
BRONZE: Ramaz TURMANIDZE (GEO) df Ruhan RASIM (BUL), 10-0
BRONZE: Norik HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df Besir ALILI (MKD), 10-0
GOLD: Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) df Krisztian BIRO (ROU), 8-1
BRONZE: Vasile DIACON (MDA) df Dimitar ANGELOV (BUL), 10-3
BRONZE: Ismet CIFTCI (TUR) df Menua YARIBEKYAN (ARM), 2-1
GOLD: Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE) df Lilian BALAN (MDA), 10-0
BRONZE: Emre CIFTCI (TUR) df Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA), 4-3
BRONZE: Bagrati GAGNIDZE (GEO) df Mher MARKOSYAN (ARM), 7-2
GOLD: Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) df Joshua MORODION (GER), 10-0
BRONZE: Daviti KOGUASHVILI (GEO) df Redjep HAJDARI (MKD), 10-0
BRONZE: Ilia HRISTOV (BUL) df Gheorghe ERHAN (MDA), via fall
GOLD: Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO) df Milan KORCSOG (HUN), 8-1
BRONZE: Adil MISIRCI (TUR) df Lior ALTSHULER (ISR), 7-3
BRONZE: Aydin AHMADOV (AZE) df Azamat KHOSONOV (GRE), 7-3