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#WrestleTokyo

Al-Obaidi Named to IOC Refugee Team, Will Wrestle at Tokyo 2020

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (June 9) -- Aker AL-OBAIDI, an Iraqi-refugee currently living, working, and wrestling in Austria has been named to the IOC Refugee Team for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The 67kg Greco-Roman athlete will be the first wrestler to compete for the Refugee Team at the Olympic Games.

"This is one of the most beautiful moments in my life, said Al-Obaidi. "I am so happy that this dream has come true. I have imagined this situation so many times. Now I will do everything to be well prepared in Tokyo!“

Al-Obaidi, who holds an Austrian residence permit and has received the full support of the Austrian Wrestling Federation, was able to travel around Europe and attend several major wrestling competitions the past few years, including the 2019 Junior European Championships where he took bronze.

"We are very proud of Aker," said United World Wrestling president Nenad LALOVIC. "He has worked hard to achieve his goals on and off the mat. We are in full support of his career and share in his excitement for competing in Tokyo this summer."

"The Austrian Wrestling Federation was key to helping Aker to train," said to Deqa NIAMKEY. "His training partners, and especially his coach Benedikt Ernst were essential in assisting Aker with training, travel, and acclimating to his new life in Austria."

Al-Obaidi stayed busy on the mats over the last three years, competing in several tournaments including two Olympic qualification events held in 2021.

2021 U23 Senior European Championships
2021 World OG Qualifier
2021 Senior European Championships
2021 Grand Prix Henry Deglane
2021 European OG Qualifier
2020 European OG Qualifier
2020 Senior European Championships
2019 Junior World Championships
2019 Junior European Championships

The Refugee Olympic Team (EOR) includes 25 Refugee Athlete Scholarship-holders from 11 countries who have been living and training in 13 host countries and represents 12 sports. For all official representations of the team (i.e. medal ceremonies) the Olympic flag will be raised, and the Olympic anthem will be played.

Al-Obaidi will take the mats for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games on Tuesday, August 3rd inside the Makuharri Messe in Tokyo. 

#WrestleTokyo

With Nation's Golden Dreams in Reach, India's Ravi Remains Focused

By United World Wrestling Press

CHIBA, Japan (August 5) – When Ravi KUMAR (IND) steps on the mat tonight at the Makhuari Messe in Chiba, he'll be only the second Indian wrestler to compete for an Olympic Gold. For a nation obsessed with wrestling, the drama of the golden moment, and the pressure, builds by the hour.

And yet Kumar remained unfazed and cool under pressure now as he did in battling back from a 9-2 deficit in last night's semifinal fall over Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ).

“I should not have conceded a huge lead against Sanayev,” he said. “I am not happy with it. I knew I could pull it off despite trailing. I was assured inside, but I should not have made it a close fight. I have some unfinished business”

Kumar will face rival Zaur UGUEV (ROC) in Thursday's final. The two last met in the semifinal at the 2019 World Championships, with the ROC athlete taking the victory, 6-4.

Ravi KumarRavi KUMAR (IND) reached the 57kg final. (Photo: UWW / Tony Rotundo)

While Kumar's dominant technical superiority wins in the first and second rounds were also impressive, it was his fall over Sanayev which will be regarded as one of the most stunning comebacks in Olympics history. The young Indian wrestler led 2-1 at the end of the break, but Sanayev answered with a takedown of his own and rolled Kumar three times in a leg lace to earn the 9-2 advantage. As the pair restarted it was Kumar who immediately scored a pair of takedowns and then quickly a fall at 5:21.

The match wasn't without an additional flare of drama. As Ravi pinned Sanayev, the Kazakhstan wrestler undertook a prohibited action. The action was brought to the attention of the Technical Delegates and after review by the referee delegates, sport director and technical delegates it was concluded that the action taken was an unintentional reaction. Based on the discussion and review of the incident no disciplinary action will be taken based on the conclusion of the incident.

As always, Kumar stayed focused on Olympic gold. "Tonight I will wrestle for gold," said Kumar. "That is my goal."