LIVE BLOG: European Olympic Qualifier, Day One

By Eric Olanowski

BUDAPEST, Hungary (March 18) -- The quarterfinals are underway. The winners of these quarterfinals matches are one win away from punching their nation's ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games. The semifinals begin on Thursday night at 18:00 (local time).

WATCH: https://uww.org/event/european-og-qualifier

Match of the Day
Candidate 1: Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR) df. Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR), 8-7
Candidate 2: Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) df. Niurgun SKRIABIN (BLR), 7-5

15:39: That'll do it for the opening session. We'll see you back here at 17:15 for the Opening Ceremony. The semifinals begin at 18:00.

15:36: Shamil SHARIPOV (RUS) is clearly upset with his performance against Robert BARAN (POL), but his 3-2 win puts him in tonight's semifinals against Dzianis KHRAMIANKOU (BLR).

15:20: These will be the last matches of the session. We'll take a break until the Opening Ceremony which starts at 17:15. Once those conclude, we'll roll into the semifinals at 18:00.

15:13: Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (BLR) ends his 97kg quarterfinals match against Ahmed BATAEV (BUL) with a big smile on his face. He trailed 3-3 on criteria and scored a stepout with less than five seconds left to win, 4-3. He'll wrestle Abraham CONYEDO (ITA) later tonight in the semifinals.

Semifinal Matchups (as they come in):







14:32: That was a close one! Ali UMARPASHAEV (BUL) led Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR), 4-0, but gave up four unanswered points and escaped a close one. That criteria win pushed him into the 74kg semifinals.

14:08: Tevanyan takes out Olympic champion Khinchegashvili, 7-5, and moves into the semifinals where he'll take on Magomedmurad Gadzhiev for an Olympic berth.

14:00: What a start! Tevanyan puts up five quick points and leads Olympic champion Khinchegashvili, 5-0. 

13:55 Things are getting chippy on Mat A. Kilicsallayan continues to complain that Aliyev is pulling on singlet. Either way, he's trailing 5-0 with less than 30 seconds left.

13:48: The 65kg quarterfinals are about to get underway! 

13:38: European champion Arsen Harutunyunan keeps things rolling with a 10-5 quarterfinals win over Beka BUJIASHVILI (GEO). He'll take on the winner of Gamzatgadzsi HALIDOV (HUN) and Andrii YATSENKO (UKR) in the semifinals.

13:27: What a match! Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) and Niurgun SKRIABIN (BLR) left it all on the mat, but it was Tevanyan who came out on top. The Armenian trailed 5-1 with less than a minute to go but strung together six points from a takedown and a pair of gut wrenches. Tevanyan moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-5 win. He'll wrestle Olympic champion Vlad Khinchegashvili for a spot in tonight's semifinals.

13:10: Aliyev came to scrap! He'll meet '19 European runner-up Selahattin KILICSALLAYAN (TUR) in the quarterfinals after cruising to a 13-2 win over George RAMM (GBR).

13:04: The wait is over! Haji Aliyev, the three-time world champion, is up now on Mat A.

13:03: What a comeback! Gadzhiev trailed 4-2 with less than 30 seconds left but scored a takedown and a stepout to defeat George BUCUR (ROU), 5-4.

13:01: Two-time world medalist Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) is making his first appearance down at 65kg since the '18 World Championships. In December, he claimed 70kg gold at the Individual World Cup.

12:45: There's your Match of the Day! Kadzimahamedau survived a late flurry of points but hung on to upset Demirtas, 8-7. Turkey now has to answer the tough question: Is Demirtas their guy for the final Olympic qualification event, the World OG Qualifier (May 6-9) or do they put the weight on the shoulders of two-time world medalist Yakup GOR?

12:43: There's an upset brewing on Mat B! Kadzimahamedau just scored eight unanswered points against Rio Olympic bronze medalist Demirtas and leads 8-3.

12:38: Rio Olympic silver medalist Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) is wrestling Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR) on Mat B.

12:37: Kentchazdze opens the seconds period up with a takedown, followed by a pair of leg laces. He's leading 8-2 with 90 seconds left.

12:33: It's still early in the match, but '18 world silver medalist Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) and Hrayr ALIKHANYAN (ARM) are trading takedowns on Mat C!

12:24: We're all waiting for three-time world champion Haji ALIYEV (AZE) to wrestle his first match! It's been a long morning, but I promise, he's coming up soon. He'll be up in four matches (Bout 15) on Mat A.

12:05: It wasn't anything flashy or highlight-worthy, but that's the name of the game here -- win and move on. Khinchegashvili conserved his energy and wrestled a smart match. He moved into the second round with a 3-1 win over  Vasyl SHUPTAR (UKR). Next up, the Olympic champ will take on Ilman MUKHTAROV (FRA) on Mat C (Bout 63).

11:58: Here. We. Go. Olympic champion "King Vlad" is wrestling on Mat C.

11:57: Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR) ends Finsilver's quest to become Israel's second freestyle Olympian with a 7-0 shutout win.

11:49: Israel has only ever had one freestyle Olympian. Mitchell FINESILVER (ISR) begins his quest to make it two. He's wrestling on Mat C.

11:43: The last time Vazgen TEVANYAN (ARM) stepped foot on a mat, he had the tournament of his life. He upset reigning world bronze medalist Ismail MUSUKAEV (HUN) and won 65kg Individual World Cup gold. Can Tevanyan put back-to-back competitions together? We'll find out shortly as he's coming up on Mat A in three matches (Bout 8).

11:38: The lone-Russian freestyle wrestler, Shamil SHARIPOV, is up on Mat A. Russia already qualified 56kg, 65kg, 75kg, 86kg and 97kg for the Olympic Games through the Nur-Sultan World Championships. If Sharipov can finish top two today, Russia will be represented at each weight in Tokyo.

11:35: There were no signs that the weight cut was an issue for Arsen Harutyunyan. He looked impressive in his first match The European champion put up ten points against Uladzislau ANDREYEU (BLR) and won, 10-2.

11:23: Rio Olympic champion Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) is up on Mat C in four matches (Bout 56). He'll try to qualify Georgia and himself for a third Olympic Games. His first Olympics were in '12 where he made it to the finals but fell short of winning gold. Then, in Rio, he reached the summit of the wrestling world by defeating Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) in the 57kg finals to become Georgia's second Olympic champ. 

11:09: European champion (at 61kg) Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) is making his way to Mat A to wrestle Uladzislau ANDREYEU (BLR). It's a big weight cut for the Armenian, so this first match after a draining cut is always telling. Harutyunyan struggled at 57kg at the World Championships, where he finished in 16th place, but bounced back at the Individual World Cup with a silver medal. Which Harutyunyan is going to show up today? 

11:00: Get ready for an emotional day! There will be a total of 12 Olympic berths earned today. The top two wrestlers at each weight punch their nation's ticket to the Olympic Games. One thing to remember: you qualify your nation and not yourself for The Games.

Thursday's Schedule (local time):
11:00: Qualification rounds FS – 57-65-74-86-97-125kg
17:15: Opening Ceremony
18:00: Tokyo 2020 Qualifying Round (Semi-Final) for FS – 57-65-74-86-97-125kg


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