'King Vlad' and Aliyev Highlight Loaded 65kg Euro OG Qualifier Bracket

By Eric Olanowski

BUDAPEST, Hungary (March 11) --- Despite owning a combined four world titles and three Olympic medals – including a London Olympic gold -- European superstars Vladimir KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) and Haji ALIYEV (AZE) are still looking to book their nation's tickets to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

They'll have to reach the finals at the European Olympic Qualifiers, which kicks off next Thursday, March 18-21 in Budapest, Hungary. But to do so, they'll have to navigate a loaded 65kg bracket that features 17 entries who have claimed a combined 14 world and Olympic medals (11 world / 3 Olympic).

Aliyev won gold at the '15 World Championships and locked up his nations' place at the Rio Olympic Games where he finished with a bronze medal. But, it was a different story after the '19 World Championships. The three-time world champ lost to fellow world champions Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) and Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) in Nur-Sultan and finished in 12th place -- putting himself in unfamiliar territory. For the first time in his storied career, Aliyev is on the outside looking in at an Olympic qualifying event.


Khinchegashvili, on the other hand, is no stranger to missing out on an Olympic berth through the World Championships. Back in '11, "King Vlad" finished in seventh place at the Istanbul World Championships and failed to earn an Olympic berth for Georgia. Khinchegashvili ultimately qualified Georgia for the London Olympics through the '12 Olympic Qualifier and grabbed Olympic silver.

Now, the Rio Olympic champion is in a similar situation as he was back in '11 after he missed out on punching Georgia's ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games with a 22nd-place finish in Nur-Sultan. In a UWW LIVE interview, Khinchegashvili said, "I will try to get the license at the European Olympic Qualifier. I think it won't be a problem and I'll compete well at the Tokyo Olympic Games." He continued, saying, "It won't be easy to qualify nor compete at the Olympics, but I am always ready for these situations."

Both Aliyev and Vlad will indeed have to be ready for all situations, as they'll share the bracket with loads of talent – including savvy veterans and rising stars.

Vladimir DUBOV (BUL) takes on Vladimir KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) at the '16 Rio Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

Past Olympians Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL), Vladimir DUBOV (BUL) and Vasyl SHUPTAR (UKR) are entered at 65kg while rising star Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) received the nod for Armenia at 65kg.

Poland's two-time world medalist Gadzhiev will debut down at 65kg for the first time since the '18 World Championships. He's since competed up at 70kg, where he was a '19 world bronze medalist and a '20 Individual World Cup champion.

Two-time world medalist Dubov will try to qualify Bulgaria for the Olympic Games in just his fifth outing at 65kg. 

Ukraine pegged '15 world bronze medalist Shuptar as their guy to earn an Olympic berth at 65kg through the European Olympic Qualifier.

Despite his 24th-place finish at the '19 World Championships, Tevanyan earned the right to represent Armenia after his surprising breakout performance at the '20 Individual World Cup. He outscored his five opponents 43-3 and capped off his improbable run to World Cup gold with a 9-1 win over Hungary's '19 world bronze medalist Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV.

Wrestling at the European Olympic Qualifiers gets underway next Thursday (March 18-21) in Budapest and can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.

65kg OG Qualifier Entries 
Vladimir Vladimirov DUBOV (BUL)
George Anthony RAMM (GBR)
Georgios PILIDIS (GRE)
Abdellatif MANSOUR (ITA)
Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL)
George BUCUR (ROU)


Semenov and Chekhirkin Claim Gold on Final Day of European OG Qualifier

By Eric Olanowski

BUDAPEST, Hungary (January 20) – Russian wrestlers Aleksandr CHEKHIRKIN (RUS) and Sergey SEMENOV (RUS) closed out the final day of the European Olympic Qualifiers with a pair of golds, while Kerem KAMAL (TUR) cruised to his second title of the ’21 season.

Semenov rolled past Lithuania’s Mantas KNYSTAUTAS (LTU) with a pair of second-period side headlocks after he collected an inactivity point. He claimed the 130kg gold, 5-1. Semenov's compatriot and fellow ’18 world champion Chekhirkin also won gold on Sunday night. He was awarded the 77kg gold after his finals opponent Bozo STARCEVIC (CRO) injury defaulted out of the gold-medal match.

Kamal reached the podium for the second time this season (he also won the Henri Deglane) with a four-point victory over Etienne KINSINGER (GER) in the 60kg finals. The match was tied in the opening period when Kamal peddled to the edge of the mat, jarred an underhook in, and tossed the German to his back for four points.

In the second period, Kamal kept his pace high and earned an inactivity point, putting Kingsinger down in par terre. The 21-year-old went for a right-side gut wrench but was stopped mid-way through and conceded a reversal. He stayed poised in the final minute and closed out the match victorious, 5-1.

The final two golds of the evening went to Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO) and Islam ABBASOV (AZE). They were awarded the 67kg and 87kg golds, respectively, after their finals opponent’s injury defaulted out of the gold-medal matches.

That wraps up our coverage of the European Olympic Qualifier. The event calendar resumes with the African and Oceania Olympic Qualifier April 2-4 in Hammamet, Tunisia.

*Please note that wrestlers who won their semifinal matches at the European Olympic Qualifiers earned berths for their respective nations to the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

GOLD - Kerem KAMAL (TUR) df. Etienne KINSINGER (GER), 5-1
BRONZE - Ivan LIZATOVIC (CRO) df. Murad MAMMADOV (AZE), via injury default
BRONZE - Irakli DZIMISTARISHVILI (GEO) df. Erik TORBA (HUN), via forfeit

GOLD - Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO) df. Balint KORPASI (HUN), via injury default
BRONZE - Artur POLITAIEV (UKR) df. Slavik GALSTYAN (ARM), via injury default
BRONZE - Deyvid Tihomirov DIMITROV (BUL) df. Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), 9-7

GOLD - Aleksandr CHEKHIRKIN (RUS) df. Bozo STARCEVIC (CRO), via injury default
BRONZE - Viktor NEMES (SRB) df. Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL), via injury default

BRONZE - Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) df. Oldrich VARGA (CZE), via injury default

GOLD - Islam ABBASOV (AZE) df. Lasha GOBADZE (GEO), via injury default
BRONZE -Metehan BASAR (TUR) df. Milad Valerikovitch ALIRZAEV (RUS), via injury default

GOLD - Arvi Martin SAVOLAINEN (FIN) df. Kiril MILOV (BUL), via injury default
BRONZE - Alex Gergo SZOKE (HUN) df. Artur OMAROV (CZE)

BRONZE - Pontus Johan LUND (SWE) df. Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA)

GOLD - Sergey SEMENOV (RUS) df. Mantas KNYSTAUTAS (LTU), 5-1
BRONZE - Adam VARGA (HUN) df. Radoslav Plamenov GEORGIEV (BUL), 3-1

BRONZE - Rafal Andrzej KRAJEWSKI (POL) df. Marko KOSCEVIC (CRO), 11-5