Kougioumtsidis repeats as U23 European champion

By Vinay Siwach

BUCHAREST, Romania (March 18) -- Between his U23 European title last year and today, Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE) has managed only one gold medal -- the senior European gold in Budapest. He failed to win a medal in the last five events he has wrestled.

However, he ended that drought by reaching the 79kg final for the second year on the trot at the U23 European Championships on Friday and defended his title in a thrilling gold medal bout against U23 world champion Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO).

Kougioumtsidis wasn't as aggressive as he was last year. Yet, he found ways to deal with tricky situations and score when it mattered most. Gamkrelidze clearly dominated the tournament with two technical superiority wins before the final which he at one point led 4-0.

But Gamkrelidze should have accepted that it won't be this simple with Kougioumtsidis. He gave up three points before both wrestlers separated for the break.

When the bout resumed, it was a little surprising that Kougioumtsidis did not show intent. He was warned for passivity, however, he did enough to avoid the second call.

With 15 seconds remaining on the clock, it was now or never for Kougioumtsidis, who never has the slightest worry on his face.

He went for three fakes before a half-hearted duck-under which forced Gamkrelidze to transfer his balance to the front and he did not see Kougioumtsidis changing his attack to a single leg. The Greek wrestler elevated his leg and moved behind Gamkrelidze to bring him down.

It looked like a half throw but was good enough for two points and a 5-4 lead with four seconds remaining. Georgia challenged the call but lost, winning Kougioumtsidis a 6-4 win.

Last year, Kougioumtsidis won the U23 Euros and a month later won the senior continental title as well. The senior Europeans are a month away from Saturday, a day on which Kougioumtsidis won his second U23 Euro title.

Islam ILYASOV (AZE)Islam ILYASOV (AZE) became two-time U23 European champion. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Another defending champion won gold as Islam ILYASOV (AZE) went past Oktay CIFTCI (TUR), 6-1, in the 97kg final.

The gold medal bout began on a very slow note with Ilyasov picking up a point for Ciftci's passivity after two minutes. He added a takedown and gut wrench before the break to lead 5-0.

As he tried defending his lead in the second period, Ilyasov was called passive and he gave up a point after 30 seconds but that did not cause much harm.

Ciftci dragged Ilyasov out of bounds but the referee called it neutral and did not give any point. Turkiye challenged the call but lost to add another point to Ilyasov's score.

The last 30 seconds did not yield any more points and U23 world bronze medalist Ilyasov won his second gold and third medal overall at U23 European Championships.

Niklas STECHELE (GER)Niklas STECHELE (GER) tries to score on Tolga OZBEK (TUR) in the 57kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

It was not defending champion Horst LEHR (GER) but Niklas STECHELE (GER) made sure the 57kg U23 European gold medal remains in Germany.

Stechele, like Horst, claimed the gold medal in a low-scoring final against Tolga OZBEK (TUR) and won by a score of 4-2.

Ozbek opened the final with a low single which Stechele managed to fend off before going on one of his own. After a little scramble, he managed to score a takedown and lead 2-0.

A little later, Ozbek once again tried to get hold of Stechele's leg but failed. His weak positioning cost him another two points as Stechele went for the counter and scored.

A crotch lift just before the break made it 4-2 but Ozbek was still trying to find a way to break Stechele's defense which became even stronger in the second period.

Stechele gave a little throwback to Lehr's tactics in the final last year as he completely shutdown in the second period, just like his senior. Despite Ozbek getting on a couple of shots, Stechele gave up no points and won the gold medal 4-2.

Magomed KHANIEV (AZE)Magomed KHANIEV (AZE) won the 70kg gold medal in Bucharest. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

At 70kg, a new star was born as Magomed KHANIEV (AZE) announced his arrival at the international scene with the U23 European Championships gold medal.

Wrestling against Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM) in the final, Khaniev was slow to start and only led 1-0 at the break. But he cut loose in the second.

Papikyan tried avoiding a leg grab but fell on his back which gave Khaniev four points and he dragged him out of bounds with exposure to lead 7-0.

Armenia challenged the four point call but it stood, adding one more point to Khaniev's account. Khaniev finished the bout with a duck under and captured the gold medal.

Interestingly, Khaniev is the younger brother of 2019 U17 world champion Mukhamed KHANIEV (RWF).

Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA), who won all his three bouts 10-0 on Friday, was crowned as the U23 European champion at 65kg after his opponent Rashid BABAZADE (AZE) forfeited due to injury.

Although he did not get to wrestle, Arsamerzouev became the first French freestyle wrestler to win a gold medal at the U23 Europeans.


GOLD: Niklas STECHELE (GER) df. Tolga OZBEK (TUR), 4-2

BRONZE: Luka GVINJILIA (GEO) df. Thomas EPP (SUI), 5-0

GOLD: Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA) df. Rashid BABAZADE (AZE), via inj. def.

BRONZE: Goga OTINASHVILI (GEO) df. Hamza ZOPALI (TUR), via fall
BRONZE: Mykyta HONCHAROV (UKR) df. Bozhidar DZHOROV (BUL), 6-0

GOLD: Magomed KHANIEV (AZE) df. Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM), 10-0

BRONZE: Davit PATSINASHVILI (GEO) df. Benedikt HUBER (AUT), 10-0
BRONZE: Shamil USTAEV (GER) df. Moukhammad SANGARIEV (FRA), 4-2


BRONZE: Eugeniu MIHALCEAN (MDA) df. Gigi SUBTIRICA (ROU), via fall

GOLD: Islam ILYASOV (AZE) df. Oktay CIFTCI (TUR), 6-1

BRONZE: Ertugrul AGCA (GER) df. Richard VEGH (HUN), 10-0


Akgul adds 11th Euro gold to help Turkiye wins team title

By Vinay Siwach

BUCHAREST, Romania (February 18) -- The final ended like all the previous ones between Taha AKGUL (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO). Akgul built a lead and Petriashvili tried making a comeback. However, Akgul was strong enough to hold off his Georgian rival and won yet another European title.

Petriashvili came close this year to beating Akgul but fell short. Akgul extended his record of European gold medals to 11 after the 5-4 win in the 125kg weight class. Akgul has won 11 European gold medals in 12 years and is already the most successful Freestyle wrestler in European history.

The record for most European titles is jointly held by Aleksandar KARELIN and Riza KAYAALP (TUR) as both have 12 titles. Akgul's Turkish teammate in Greco-Roman Kayaalp had the opportunity to break that record in Bucharest but suffered a loss in the 130kg final to Sergei SEMENOV (AIN).

There was no such heartbreak for Akgul as he paced his final to perfection against his arch-rival. Petriashvili was warned for open fingers on the face and was penalized for it with one point. Akgul scored a stepout and then got another point for Petriasvili's passivity, leading 3-0.

Akgul remained cautious of Petriashvili's attacks and countered one of them to score a takedown for two points and extended his lead to 5-0. With a minute remaining, Petriashvili did get two takedowns but he could not get the winning point needed as the clock expired.

"I am so happy. I had a final with Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) and it is always hard," Akgul said. "This is my 11th European gold which is a record. I prepared well for this tournament. This is like practice because we are preparing for the Paris Olympics."

Before the final, Akgul won his three bouts via superiority and he was so dominant that two of his bouts finished before the break while the semifinal ended before time. Akgul wishes to repeat the performance in coming tournaments, especially the Olympics.

"I will now prepare for the Olympics," he said. "I am 34 years old. Of course, my energy is not like the young wrestlers. I am doing more conditioning and weightlifting. I am a technical wrestler but I am working hard."

The final against Petriashvili was even more significant as the Freestyle team title depended on it. Turkiye had 115 points going into the final while Georgia had 110 points. An Akgul win would clinch the title for Turkiye with 140 points to Georgia's 130 while a win for Petriashvili will hand Georgia the title despite both countries being tied at 135 points as Georgia has more gold medals.

"Our team won the team title in Freestyle after 31 years," Akgul said. "That is also a big success because Freestyle is so difficult and so many teams are coming. I am the captain so I am happy. My last match against Georgia was also important because if I won, Turkiye would win the title, and if Petriashvili won, Georgia would win the team title."

Another big contribution to Turkiye's historic team title win was Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) defending his 92kg European title. He gold gave Turkiye 25 points which pushed it over Georgia in the race.

In Bucharest, Akturk pulled off two top wins, beating Mariani MAISURADZE (GEO) in the semifinal and Boris MAKOEV (SVK) in the final. Makoev could never find an opening in the whole match which Akturk won 8-0, thus becoming a three-time European champion.

Kurugliev, Salkazanov repeat

Daruen KURGULIEV (GRE) added another European gold medal to his resume after he defeated Myles AMINE (SMR) for a second straight year. Kurguliev scored a stepout and later got another point for Amine's inactivity, giving him a 2-0 lead. Amine kept attacking Kurugliev's legs but could not score a takedown. The referee cautioned Kurugliev for fleeing late in the match which gave Amine a point.

But as Amine made his last attempt to score in the final 15 seconds, Kurugliev grabbed Amine's leg and bent it more than 90 degrees forcing the referee to stop the bout with three seconds on the clock left. Kurugliev got the breather he needed and defended the last three seconds with ease.

Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) extended his European title run to four gold medals, winning the 74kg final against Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR).

Salkazanov hit a double-leg 10 seconds into the final and scored two points. He went into a shell for the remaining first period and was put on the clock in the second period. However, he scored a stepout within the activity period to avoid any trouble and lead 3-0.

Demirtas made a desperate attempt to get a takedown in the final seconds but Salkazanov kept his distance and even scored a takedown on the counter to win 5-0.

At 61kg, Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (AIN) won his second European title after beating Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (ALB), his second straight silver medal at the European Championships.


Magomedov, a world silver medalist, was the first to get the activity period against his name but he scored a stepout during that to lead 1-0. Abakarov responded with a big throw that Magomedov did well to not land in danger and give up only two points.

The lead exchanged hands when Magomedov scored a takedown. But in one sequence, Abakarov scored two points via exposure while Magomedov was given only one for reversal. However, on challenge, Magomedov got two points to lead 5-4.

Abakarov tried the same exposure lift again but Magomedov defended well before elevating Abakarov and scoring a takedown to win 7-4 and denying Albania its second European champion in two days.



Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (AIN) df. Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (ALB), 7-4

BRONZE: Nuraddin NOVRUZOV (AZE) df. Georgi VANGELOV (BUL), 7-3

GOLD: Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df. Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR), 5-0


GOLD: Dauren KURUGLIEV (GRE) df. Myles AMINE (SMR), 2-1

BRONZE: Arsenii DZHIOEV (AZE) df. Arslan BAGAEV (AIN), 6-4
BRONZE: Osman GOCEN (TUR) df. Vasyl MYKHAILOV (UKR), 8-0

GOLD: Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) df. Boris MAKOEV (SVK), 8-0

BRONZE: Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO) df. Andrian GROSUL (MDA), 7-0
BRONZE: Magomed KURBANOV (AIN) df. Denys SAHALIUK (UKR), via fall (8-0)