Lei Denies Vinesh as Chinese Women Dominant

By Ken Marantz

LEI Chun (CHN) joined a long line of wrestlers who have denied India a first-ever gold medal in women's wrestling at the Asian Championships while leading a procession of Chinese onto the top step of the medal podium.

Lei scored the winning takedown with just under a minute to go to defeat Vinesh VINESH (IND) 3-2 in the 50kg final, the first of four gold medals won by China in the five weight classes contested on the third day of competition at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace.

"I felt very good for today's competition," Lei said. "The key factor for my victory came from my heart. I was quite confident today."

After teenager Saki IGARASHI (JPN) took the 55kg title in the only China-less final, Chinese wrestlers posted one-sided victories in the three remaining finals, only one of which went the distance.

RONG Ningning needed just 40 seconds to end her 59kg showdown with Nabira ESENBAEVA (UZB) with a 10-0 technical fall, and compatriot ZHOU Feng followed with a 10-0 technical fall of her own over Tumentsetseg SHARKHUU (MGL) at 68kg, although she took 5:36 to complete the rout.

The last final of the night was a direct showdown between China and Japan, which has sent a depleted team to Bishkek to give younger wrestlers experience and to save its big guns for the Women's World Cup which it will host in mid-March.

Japan, however, sent its top wrestler at 76kg. But Paris 2017 world bronze medalist Hiroe MINAGAWA (nee SUZUKI) couldn't breach the Great Wall of China and was overpowered by ZHOU Qian 7-2 to cap the day's competition.

Every Chinese came away with a medal, as LUO Lannuan crushed Amina ALIMBETOVA (UZB) for a 10-0 technical fall at 4:11 in a 55kg bronze-medal match. Luo had suffered the lone Chinese defeat of the day in the quarterfinals, and that was by a single point.

Lei was determined to make a good showing in her debut at the Asian Championships, after faring poorly at her only other major senior-level competition, the 2014 world championships.

"I couldn't compete in international events for many years because in China, there are so many good wrestlers," Lei said. "This was a very rare chance for me to show myself. So I seized the chance."

In the final, Lei scored the lone point of the first period when Vinesh was on the activity clock. The Indian took the lead early in the second with a takedown, but Lei went on the offensive and eventually broke through Vinesh's defenses for the decisive single-leg takedown.

"I knew about the Indian because she is very famous and a very strong opponent," Lei said. "It is the first time to face her. It's really hard to make an attack against her. But I used my own techniques."

With the defeat, India is now 0-13 in gold-medal matches at the Asian Championships dating back to the nation's first appearance at Ulaanbaatar 2001---and Vinesh now has three of the resulting silver medals.

Both of her two previous losses in finals came at the hands of Japanese, last year in New Delhi to eventual world champion Yui SUSAKI and in 2015 to Yuki IRIE. Vinesh avenged the 2015 defeat by beating Irie in the semifinals in Bishkek, but against Lei, could not come up with the big countermove she used to beat the Japanese.

Rong, a winner at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in January, turned in the most dominant performance of the Chinese champions, winning all three of her matches by technical falls in a combined time of just 4:37.

"When I came here, I just wanted to show what I learned in training," Rong said.

Against Esenbaeva, Rong went right into a roll as she scored a takedown, then reeled off three straight gut wrenches to bring the match to an early end.

Igarashi, a 2015 world cadet silver medalist, came up a winner in her international debut on the senior level. In the final, she scored with a step-out in the first period, then added two second-period takedowns to top Oh.

"Overall, I was able to move very well," Igarashi said. "It was good that I stayed on the attack. I was a little nervous, so I just thought to go all out."

Irie, meanwhile, came away with a bronze medal after KIM Hyungjoo (KOR) defaulted due to a knee injury with 1:56 left in their match and the Japanese ahead 8-0.

Davaachimeg ERKHEMBAYAR (MGL) at 55kg won a second straight bronze medal and was one of three Mongolians to win third-place matches. Kazakhstan claimed two bronzes, while South Korea, host Kyrgyzstan, and India had one each.

Women's Wrestling
50kg (12 entries)
Gold - LEI Chun (CHN) df. Vinesh VINESH (IND), 3-2

Bronze –  Narangerel ERDENESUKH (MGL) df. Aktenge KEUNIMJAEVA (UZB), 8-2
Bronze – Yuki IRIE (JPN) df. KIM Hyungjoo (KOR) by Def., 1:56 (8-0)

55kg (9 entries)
Gold - Saki IGARASHI (JPN) df. OH Hyemin (KOR), 5-0

Bronze –  Davaachimeg ERKHEMBAYAR (MGL) df. Nazgul NURAKHAN (KAZ) by TF, 14-4, 0:32
Bronze – LUO Lannuan (CHN) df. Amina ALIMBETOVA (UZB) by TF, 10-0, 4:11

59kg (10 entries)
Gold - RONG Ningning (CHN) df. Nabira ESENBAEVA (UZB) by TF, 10-0, 5:20

Bronze –  Sangeeta SANGEETA (IND) df. UM Jieun (KOR), 9-4
Bronze – Shoovdor BAATARJAV (MGL) df. Phimsuphak AINPHEN (THA) by TF, 10-0, 5:31

68kg (9 entries)
Gold - ZHOU Feng (CHN) df. Tumentsetseg SH.RKHUU (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 0:24

Bronze –  Irina KAZYULINA (KAZ) df. PARK Sujin (KOR), 8-2
Bronze –  Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ) df. Divya KAKRAN (IND), 12-6

76kg (9 entries)
Gold - ZHOU Qian (CHN) df. Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN), 7-2

Bronze –  Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ) def. Chantsalnyamaa AMGALANBAATAR (MGL) by TF, 11-1, 3:09
Bronze – HWANG Eunju (KOR) df. Aiperi MEDET KYZY (KGZ) by Fall, 1:02 (12-0)


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