Kazakhstan Puts Trio into Greco Finals on 2nd Day as Iran Falters Mightily

By Ken Marantz

World silver medalist Demeu ZHADRAYEV led a trio from Kazakhstan into the Greco-Roman finals on the second day of the Asian Championships, while Iran surprisingly struggled and put just one wrestler into the five gold-medal matches slated for the night session.

Zhadrayev, the 2015 Asian bronze medalist, will take on Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) in the 72kg final---one of two head-to-head clashes between host Kyrgyzstan and neighbor Kazakhstan, which will surely incite the vocal crowd at Kozhomkul Sports Palace.

In the other, at 82kg, Askhat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) will take on Atabek AZISBEKOV (KGZ).

The third Kazakh vying for a continental championship will be Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ), a silver medalist last year in New Delhi who will take on unheralded Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA (JPN) at 67kg.

In the morning session, Shimoyamada ousted Paris 2017 world champion RYU Hansu by default in the quarterfinals. Ryu had suffered a deep gash over his eye in his first-round bout, and after falling behind 7-1 to Shimoyamada and with blood continually flowing through his thick bandages, the bout was stopped with :51 left.

That was a rematch of the 67kg final at the Dave Schultz Memorial, which Shimoyamada won 3-2.

Japan, which got a victory from Shota TANOKURA at 55kg on the opening day, will have a chance to sweep the three lightest weights, as Rio 2016 silver medalist Shinobu OTA advanced to the final at 60kg.

Ota, an Asian silver medalist in 2014 and bronze medalist in 2013, will try to finally strike gold when he clashes with teenager RI Se Ung (PRK) in the final.

Since Rio, Ota had lost his place on the national team to Keniichiro FUMITA, who went on to win Asian and world titles. But Ota finally beat Fumita at the Japan nationals in December, earning a ticket to Bishkek.

As is often the case with North Koreans, little is known of Ri, except that he was an Asian cadet champion in 2013 and 2015, and Youth Olympic winner in 2014. He showed few weak spots when he stormed into the final with three consecutive technical falls, without giving up a point.

Ota's path to the final was far less smoother. In the semifinals, he had to battle back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Shirzad Ali BEHESHTITALA (IRI) 5-4, with the decisive point coming on passivity with :30 left.

"Ota is the type of wrestler who gives up points, but stays calm and under control," said Japan Greco-Roman coach Masatoshi TOYOTA. "He wrestled his way and did what he does best."

Beheshtitala's collapse added salt into the wounds for Iran, which had just one wrestler make the final, with New Delhi 2017 champion Sayedmostafa SALEHIZADEH (IRI) going for the 97kg gold against Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB).

Behestitala is the only Iranian in the bronze-medal matches, meaning the powerhouse can finish the day with a maximum of two medals after taking two golds and a silver the previous day.

Assakalov, a New Delhi 2017 bronze medalist, got the already fired-up crowd even more excited with his antics during his 2x-2 quarterfinal win over home favorite Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ).

Assakalov had a mini-tantrum that included kicking the bowling pin-like object used for making challenges. Then when he was awarded a second penalty point when his opponent grabbed his singlet late in the match, he was so grateful he moved to kiss the referee (who obviously refused).

60kg (11 entries)
Gold - Shinobu OTA (JPN) v RI Se Ung (PRK)

Bronze –  Kanybek ZHOLCHUBEKOV (KGZ) v Shirzad Ali BEHESHTITALA (IRI)
Bronze – LIN Yu Hung (TPE) v Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB)

Semifinal – Shinobu OTA (JPN) df. Shirzad Ali BEHESHTITALA (IRI), 5-4
Semifinal – RI Se Ung (PRK) df. Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) by TF, 8-0, 4:35

67kg (12 entries)

Bronze –  Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB) v Manish MANISH (IND)
Bronze – Seydylla TAZAYEV (TKM) v ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN)

Semifinal – Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ) df. Manish MANISH (IND) by TF, 10-1, 2:33
Semifinal – Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA (JPN) df. ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN), 6-5

72kg (12 entries)

Bronze –  Aram VARDANYAN (UZB) v JIANG Yuan (CHN)
Bronze – Kuldeep MALIK (IND) v Tomohiro INOUE (JPN)

Semifinal – Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) df. JIANG Yuan (CHN) by TF, 8-0, 3:34
Semifinal – Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) df. Tomohiro INOUE (JPN), 7-0

82kg (10 entries)

Bronze –  Yuya MAETA (JPN) v KIM Jinhyeok (KOR)
Bronze – Nurbek KHASHIMBEKOV (UZB) v Singh HARPEET (IND)

Semifinal – Askhat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) df. KIM Jinhyeok (KOR), 10-5
Semifinal – Atabek AZISBEKOV (KGZ) df. Singh HARPEET (IND), 5-0

97kg (10 entries)
Gold - Sayedmostafa SALEHIZADEH (IRI) v Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB)

Bronze –  Ali Majeed AL KAABI (IRQ) v Yerulan ISKAKOV (KAZ)
Bronze – Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) v GU Hakbon (KOR)

Semifinal – Sayedmostafa SALEHIZADEH (IRI) df. Yerulan ISKAKOV (KAZ), 5-0
Semifinal – Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) df. GU Hakbon (KOR) by TF, 8-0, 5:22


Evloev Gives Host Country 74kg Freestyle Gold

By Ken Marantz

On the night the curtain came down on the Asian Championships in Bishkek, Muslim EVLOEV (KGZ) provided the perfect final act.

Evloev gave the host country a gold medal in 74kg freestyle as the tournament wrapped up its well-supported six-day run at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace with finals in five weight divisions.

Evloev, riding an early 5-point lead, never let up in defeating Mandakhnaran GANZORIG (MGL) by 11-1 technical fall with :24 remaining to give Kyrgyzstan its first Asian freestyle gold since 2015 and fourth in its history.

"It's a great feeling," Evloev said of winning at home to improve on his silver medal he won last year in New Delhi. "The crowd was really supporting me as much as they could and I couldn't fail them, so I did my best."

Iran finished up by capturing two golds, as reigning world and Olympic champion Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) cruised to his first Asian title with a victory at 86kg, and Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) followed by winning the 92kg crown.

In a duel between Georgian-born wrestlers for the 125kg title, Davit MODZMANASHVILI (UZB) defeated Giorgi SAKANDELIDZE (QAT), 5-0, in a tepid match that capped the tournament.

Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ), 61kg champion looking for a gut wrench. Photo Max Rose-Fyne. 

The other gold at stake went to Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ), a New Delhi 2017 bronze medalist who scored two takedowns in the second period of the 61kg final to top Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN), 6-2.

Uzbekistan, which had won five medals, including two golds, on Saturday, added two bronzes to Modzmanashvili's gold to clinch the team title with 178 points. Iran finished second with 157 and Kazakhstan third with 146.

Evloev acknowledged he was heartened by the Greco victory of compatriot Akzhol MAKHMUDOV on the second day, one of the tournament's iconic moments for the thunderous ovation it elicited from the delirious crowd.

"Of course he did inspire me," Evloev said. "And I also want to say congratulations to Makhmudov because I haven't seen him yet."

In the final, Evloev used a single-leg lift to dump Ganzorig, a two-time world bronze medalist, backwards to the mat for a 4-point move, which became 5 when the Mongolian side's challenge was unsuccessful.

"It made me feel more confident, but I was going to wrestle until the last second," Evloev said of being staked to a big early lead. "That's why I won."

Photo of Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) by Max Rose-Fyne. 

Outside of the Kyrgyz wrestlers, the spotlight was squarely on superstar Yazdani Charati.

And he lived up to expectations by overwhelming Uitumen ORGODOL (MGL) in the 86kg final, scoring with a takedown and roll combination right away, and then reeling off three takedowns for a 10-0 technical fall with 36 seconds still left in the first period.

Orgodol added the Asian silver to the one he won in 2016 and his bronze from 2013.

So popular is the Iranian that he had a phalanx of Kyrygz security guards whereever he went, and was whisked pass waiting media and fans without comment after his medal ceremony and completing doping procedures.

In the 92kg final, Ebrahimizivlaei built up a 5-1 lead through the first period against Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), then gave up a passivity point and nothing else to take the gold with a 5-2 victory.

The plodding end to the final bout of the tournament, the 125kg final, belied the historical significance of it.

Modzmanashvili, a London 2012 Olympic bronze medalist for Georgia, took a 4-0 lead with an early takedown to a roll, then gained a point when Sakandelidze was on the activity clock in the second period, when the two giants seemed to have little desire to expend further energy.  

By winning the silver medal, Sakandelidze became Qatar's first-ever medalist at the Asian Championships. The Gulf nation's best previous showing had been fifth place.

Although it took an import to gain a spot on the medal podium, Qatari officials were ecstatic with the result.

"After a long period, this is a big success for Qatar wrestling federation, for Qatar," said team leader Vardan Ghazaryan. "For the first time in senior championships, after more than 50 years, we take such success. Qatar is very proud and it will advertise wrestling to include more young schoolboys for developing wrestling in Qatar."

Ghazaryan said the federation has high expectations for Sakandelidze, who he said has lived in Qatar for two years.

"This is, of course, his first match for Qatar, but you will see his success and medals, gold medals, in the future."

Among the bronze-medal matches, Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) overcame an 8-3 deficit with 45 seconds remaining, scoring the winning takedown in the final seconds to defeat KIM Daisung (KOR), 11-8, at 74kg.

Kim, who clearly ran out of gas down the stretch, is a 40-something high school wrestling coach who came out of retirement to make the national team, according to a South Korean federation official.

Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB) also notched a last-second takedown to upend Turtogtokh LUVSANDORJ (MGL), 4-3, in their 92kg third-place match.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran and China all came away with two bronze medals on the night, while host Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia had one each.

61kg (12 entries)
Gold - Nurislam SANAYEV (KAZ) df. Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN), 6-2

Bronze - Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB) df. Sharvan SHARVAN (IND), 6x-6

74kg (12 entries)
Gold - Muslim EVLOEV (KGZ) df. Mandakhnaran GANZORIG (MGL) by TF, 11-1, 0:24

Bronze - Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) df. KIM Daisung (KOR), 11-8
Bronze - Mostafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) df. Dovletmyrat ORAZGYLYJOV (TKM) by TF, 10-0, 4:12

86kg (12 entries)
Gold - Hassan YAZDANI CHARATI (IRI) df. Uitumen ORGODOL (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 3:24

Bronze - Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) df. Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB), 4-0
Bronze - BI Shengfeng (CHN) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by TF, 10-0, 3:41

92kg (10 entries)
Gold - Mohammadjavad EBRAHIMIZIVLAEI (IRI) df. Adilet DAVLUMBAYEV (KAZ), 5-2

Bronze - LIN Zushen (CHN) df. SUE Changjae (KOR), 2-1
Bronze - Azizbek SOLIEV (UZB) df. Turtogtokh LUVSANDORJ (MGL), 4-3

125kg (13 entries)

Bronze - Zolboo NATSAGSUREN (MGL) df. NAM Koungjin (KOR) by TF, 10-0, 4:43
Bronze - Amin TAHERI (IRI) df. Sohbet BELLIYEV (TKM) by TF, 14-4, 3:02