Ait Ouagram Heads to Rio with New Team, New Outlook at Africa-Oceania Qualifier

By William May

ALGIERS (April 1) – Zied AIT OUAGRAM (MAR) powered to a pair of technical falls in the opening session of the African-Oceania qualifying tournament Friday and virtually assured himself of a berth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

With one bout remaining in the evening session, Ait Ouagram leads the four-wrestler 75kg category in Greco-Roman with a pair of wins, including an 8-0 demolition of reigning continental champ Mahmoud SEBIE (EGY).

“I’m really excited about returning to the Olympic Games,” Ait Ouagram said after his second win. “In 2012, I went to London for Tunisia but this time I will be going as a member of the Moroccan team.”

Ait Ougram explained that he is eager to wrestle for the country of his parents, adding that he was also attracted by the direction of wrestling in Morocco, especially under Moroccan federation president and United World Wrestling Bureau member Fouad MESKOUT (MAR).

“It is always an honor to take part in the Olympic Games,” said Ait Ouagram. “But, now we also want to do better, finish with better rankings and win medals of all colors.”

Also in the morning session at Mohamed Boudiaf Olympic Complex, African wrestling power Egypt grabbed four of the 12 places on offer in Greco-Roman with a chance to grab two more later in the evening.

Meanwhile, Vinod KUMAR (66kg) and Ivan POPOV (130kg) ensured that the Australian flag will be on display at the wrestling venue in Rio de Janeiro.

Oceania champion Kumar came from behind to defeat regional rival Craig MILLER (NZL), 12-6, in the semifinals at 66kg and grab the berth for Australia.

Earlier, when asked about traveling over 15,000 kilometers to wrestle a familiar foe in the semifinals, United World Wrestling’s regional development officer for Oceania Ethan LAKE (ASA) remarked “Actually both wrestlers are quite excited. It means that Oceania will have at least one qualifier.”

Popov gave Australia a second Greco-Roman berth with a win by fall over African bronze medalist Ali BOUACHIOUM (ALG) after the African bronze medalist tried to go chest-to-chest with the lanky Australian and was dropped to his back for the fall at 4:20.

Africa champion Adem BOUDJEMLINE (ALG) grabbed a ticket for the home team at 85kg, with a pair of technical falls. Boudjemline will meet 98kg Africa champ Ahmed SAAD (EGY) in Friday evening’s final.


59kg (3 entries, Nordic system)

RR1 – Haithem MAHMOUD (EGY) df. Mehdi MESSAOUDI (MAR) by TF, 8-0, 3:45

RR2 – Mehdi MESSAOUDI (MAR) df. Billel BENBRIH (ALG), 8-6

RR3 - Haithem MAHMOUD (EGY) v Billel BENBRIH (ALG)

66kg (6 entries)
Semifinal – Vinod KUMAR (AUS) df. Craig MILLER (NZL), 12-6
Semifinal – Adham KAHK (EGY) df. Souleyman NASR (TUN) by TF, 11-2, 4:21

Gold – Vinod KUMAR (AUS) v Adham KAHK (EGY)
Bronze – Craig MILLER (NZL) – no opponent
Bronze – Lukas THOMAS (NAM) v Souleymen NASR (TUN)

75kg (4 entries, Nordic system)

RR1 – Zied AIT OUGRAM (MAR) df. Mahmoud SEBIE (EGY) by TF, 8-0, 2:02
RR1 – Akrem BOUDJEMLINE (ALG) df. Wael SELMI (TUN) by TF, 8-0, 5:10

RR2 – Mahmoud SEBIE (EGY) df. Akrem BOUDJEMLINE (ALG) by TF, 10-2, 2:15
RR2 – Zied AIT OUGRAM (MAR) df. Wael SELMI (TUN) by TF, 10-0, 2:38

RR3 – Mahmoud SEBIE (EGY) v Wael SELMI (TUN)

85kg (7 entries)
Semifinal – Adem BOUDJEMLINE (ALG) df. Kahlid SAHLIK (MAR) by TF, 8-0, 2:04
Semifinal – Ahmed SAAD (EGY) df. Mohamed MISSAOUI (TUN), 9-1, 4:07

Gold – Adem BOUDJEMLINE (ALG) v Ahmed SAAD (EGY)
Bronze – Nathaniel TUAMOHELOA (ASA) v Kahlid SAHLIK (MAR)
Bronze – Nicolaas VERREYNNE (AUS) v Mohamed MISSAOUI (TUN)

98kg (3 entries, Nordic system)

RR1 – Hamdy ABDELWAHAB (EGY) df. Hemza HALOUI (ALG), 5-2

RR2 – Hamdy ABDELWAHAB (EGY) df. Choucri ATAFI (MAR), 4-0

RR3 – Hemza HALOUI (ALG) v Choucri ATAFI (MAR)

130kg (6 entries)
Semifinal – Ivan POPOV (AUS) df. Ali BOUACHIOUM (ALG) by Fall, 4:20 (10-5)
Semifinal – Mohamed ABDELLATIF (EGY) df. Radhouane CHEBBI (TUN), 4-0

Gold – Ivan POPOV (AUS) v Mohamed ABDELLATIF (EGY)
Bronze – Ali BOUACHIOUM (ALG) – no opponent
Bronze – Reda HINANI (MAR) v Radhouane CHEBBI (TUN)