Georgia announces Freestyle World Cup team

By Gary Abbott

CORALVILLE, Iowa (November 21) --- The lineups for Georgia, which will compete in Freestyle World Cup, has been released.

The Freestyle and Women’s Wrestling World Cup will be held at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa, Dec. 10-11. It is the first time that  freestyle and women’s wrestling will be held together side-by-side at the World Cup.

The World Cup is the annual international dual meet championships, conducted by United World Wrestling. The top five teams in freestyle and the top five teams in women’s wrestling from the 2022 Senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in September have confirmed their participation. There is also an All World Team in each discipline, featuring the top available athlete from the World Championships in each weight class that were not from a nation which qualified for the World Cup.

The Georgia World Cup team will feature five senior world medalists and three others who have been age-group World medalists.

The team is led by three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist Geno PETRIASHVILI at 125kg. Petriashvili won Senior World titles in 2017, 2018 and 2019. He was a 2020 Olympic silver medalist and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. Add in a 2021 world silver medal and three world bronze medals (2013, 2015, 2022) and you have one of the best wrestlers in the world today. He also boasts world titles at the U23 and U20 levels.

2017 world champion Zurabi IAKOBIASHVILI will compete at 70kg. Iakobishvili also won three world bronze medals (2018, 2021 and 2022). He was 10th in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Other senior world medalists on the Georgia team include 2016 world silver medalist Beka LOMTADZE  (65kg) and a pair of 2022 world bronze medalists, Miriani MAISURADZE (92kg) and Givi MATCHARASHVILI (97kg). Maisuradze was a 2016 U17 World champion and a 2022 U23 World bronze medalist. Matcharashvili won a U23 World title in 2018 and a U17 World title in 2014, plus two other age-group World medals.

Age-group World medalists on the Georgia roster includes 2022 U23 World champion Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (79kg), plus 2019 U23 world bronze medalist Giorgi SULAVA (74kg) and 2015 U20 world bronze medalist Tarzan MAISURADZE (86kg).

Georgia, which placed fifth at the 2022 World Championships in men’s freestyle, will be joined in the World Cup by first place United States, second place Iran, third place Japan and fourth place Mongolia, in addition to the All-World Team.

The rosters of the World Cup teams for the other nations will be announced over the next week by USA Wrestling.

Ticket packages for the 2022 Men’s and Women’s Wrestling World Cup are currently on sale. The seating capacity for Xtream Arena for the World Cup will be approximately 5,300. Ticket packages include a Gold package for $275, Silver package for $200 and All-Session tickets for $90.

A special Presentation of Teams and Team USA Meet & Greet will also be held on Friday, December 9 at 6:45 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

Men’s and Women’s Wrestling World Cup tickets -> https://worldcupiowacity.com/tickets/

Georgia Freestyle World Cup team
57 kg – Beka Bujiashvili
61 kg – Teimuraz VANISHVILI
65 kg – Beka LOMTADZE 
70 kg – Zurabi IAKOBIASHVILI
74 kg – Giorgi SULAVA
79 kg – Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE
86 kg – Tarzan MAISURADZE
92 kg – Miriani MAISURADZE
125 kg – Geno PETRIASHVILI


With World Cup history on mind, Ukraine arrives in US

By Vinay Siwach

CORALVILLE, Iowa (December 2) -- In the last 10 months, Ukraine women's team has finished on the podium at the European Championships, U23 and U17 World Championships and qualified for the World Cup by finishing in the top five at the World Championships in Belgrade.

The wrestlers achieved this with little to no training before the Euros and with no training base for the rest of the year. A few trained in Budapest while another group was in Warsaw. If anyone was relatively lucky, they could train in western Ukraine.

So it was a commendable gesture from USA Wrestling to invite the Ukraine team to the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs two weeks before the December 10-11 World Cup despite being two of the strongest teams out there.

Throughout the year, United World Wrestling, along with Olympic Solidarity, the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine and the USOC, provided technical assistance to the Ukraine Wrestling Federation for the participation of Ukraine women’s team in major UWW events.

The World Cup was also part of the same plan the UWW Development Department and local organizing committees provided technical support for Ukraine.

“We remain committed and devoted to supporting all our national federations around the world," UWW President Nenand LALOVIC said. "Despite the current political problems, we remain one family through wrestling.”

Ukraine has been preparing for the World Cup with a full-strength team and will be heading to Iowa from Colorado for the competition.  

"The American team welcomed us very kindly," Oksana LIVACH (UKR) said. "We are in the Olympic Center in Colorado, there are very good conditions for training and we enjoy spending time here."

Amidst all the difficulties the team has faced, the wrestlers have held together, switching between wrestling and coaching during various tournaments. The World Cup will see them rise to the challenge once again when Ukraine takes on Japan and Mongolia in the group stages of the tournament.

After the World Championships, the wrestlers did participate in the U23 Worlds in Spain before arriving in the United States last week. The 26-member delegation was welcomed with open arms and are provided with the best facilities and training.

"There are many sparring sessions, the training is very interesting, you can learn something new, exchange experience," Oksana said.

The World Cup will not only be a way to show the strength of the Ukraine team, it will also mark the return of Ukraine's two biggest stars. Former world champion and three-time Olympian Yulia TKACH (UKR) is entered for the tournament, her first in almost three years.

Another wrestler who will be returning in over a year is Tokyo bronze medalist Iryna KOLIADENKO (UKR) at 62kg. She has skipped all tournaments in between.

Both Tkach and Koliadenko will be leaders of the team which also comprises Oksana LIVACH (UKR), Alina HRUSHYNA (UKR), Alla BELINSKA (UKR) and other youngsters.

At the World Cup, Ukraine will open its campaign against Mongolia on Saturday afternoon and will fancy its chances of winning the dual and setting up a virtual final against Japan. As the best country in women's wrestling is sending a depleted squad with no senior world medalist, Ukraine will look to pull off an upset win if it wants to reach the final from Group A.

With the team already acclimatized to the US and the return of its senior wrestlers, Ukraine winning will not be a surprise.

"Japan is the strongest team in the world in women's wrestling," Tkach said. "I think the young team will also be strong and it will be interesting for us to compete with them. Our team is also quite young and strong.

"We believe in our team. We will see a good fight on the mat and it will show who wins."

Apart from the chance to win the World Cup, the team is motivated and united by the tough times everyone faced this year. The emotions ran high at the European Championships when it crowned three champions in Budapest despite the uncertainty of the lives back home. A big relief came when it qualified for the World Cup finishing fifth in Belgrade with three medals.

"This year was really very difficult for our team. Our girls performed really well," Livach said. "I think this season will remain in history and in our memory. The World Cup is the final point for this year and we want to end it on a good note. All the teams are very strong and everyone can and has a chance to win, just like our team."

The World Cup win will make the year even more historic for the country as it has never finished on the podium before at the competition. But that can change in Coralville.

"Our team has many young wrestlers who have the opportunity to prove themselves," Livach said. "Expect a worthy fight."