Olympic Champ Vlasov, Silver Medalist Kaayalp Punch Ticket to Euro Finals

By Tim Foley

KASPIYSK, Russia (April 30) – As youngsters looked to emerge on day one of wrestling in Dagestan, it was the Old Guard, led by Rio Olympic champion Roman VLASOV (RUS) and silver medalist Riza KAYAALP (TUR), showing fans they were still to be considered among the continent's best.

Vlasov had one of the day’s tougher semifinal matchups, facing 2015 European Games champion Elvin MURSALIYEV (AZE) at 77kg. The two-time Olympic champion used plenty of veteran savvy to earn the one-point passivity early and then immediately tack on two more points for a successful lift at the edge of the mat.

The Russian earned a pushout late in the first to make it 4-0 heading into the second period, which proved to be the last points scored. The win avenged a 20176 loss Vlasov suffered to Mursaliyev, 2-2. Vlasov will face defending world champion Viktor NEMES (SRB) who beat Alex Michel BJURBERG KESSIDIS (SWE), 2-0 in the night's other 77kg semifinal.

Kayaalp standing tall during early round action at the 20187 European Championships in Kaspiysk. (Photo: Max Rose-Fyne) 

For Kayaalp the night’s on-the-mat activity seemed rote as he plodded through opponents with his bullying style of aggressive heads up wrestling. The barrel-chested Kayaalp came out firing in in his seminal match against Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) earning a quick go behind takedown, followed only moments later by a gut wrench. He would take the lead the rest of the way and head to the finals with a 4-0 victory.

Kaayalp, who is looking for his eighth European titles, will face 2017 European bronze medalist Vitalii SHCHUR (RUS) in Tuesday’s finals. The Russian made his way to the finals on the back of an early four-point throw against Iakobi KAJAIA (GEO). The move propelled Shchur to a 5-4 and his first European finals.

Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) survived this five-point throw to climb back for an impressive 9-7 semifinal victory. (Photo: Max Rose-Fyne)

Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) took a curious route to the 55kg finals, finding himself down 7-0 to Vasilil TOPOEV (RUS) within the first :45 seconds of the 55kg semifinals. Topoev opened the match with a quick slide by takedown and then immediately lifted his Azerbaijani opponent for an incredible, picturesque five-point throw.

Azizli scored a single point in the first period, but in the second came back with eight unanswered points off a two-point takedown, two-point gut wrench and the decisive four-point front headlock with 1:30 remaining in the bout.

Azizili will face Estonia’s Helary MAEGISALU (EST) tomorrow after he bested Ekrem OZTURK (TUR), 4-4 in the night’s other 55kg semifinal.

Stig-Andrew BERGE (NOR) returns to the European finals for the first time since 2007. (Photo: Max Rose-Fyne)

At 63kg it was Rio bronze medalist Stig-Andre BERGE (NOR) who used a second period arm drag to top Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), 2-1. Berge will meet Mihai Radu MIHUT (ROU) in the finals after the Romanian bested Russia’s Zaur KABALOEV, 7-5.

Roberti KOBLIASHVILI (GEO) dominated Mikita KLIMOVICH (BLR) at 87kg. (Photo: Max Rose-Fyne)

In the 87kg semifinals Roberti KOBLIASHVILI (GEO) made easy work of Mikita KLIMOVICH (BLR) earning the 8-0 technical fall with 2:20 left in the match, largely through a series of first-period gut wrenches. The young Georgian will face Bekkhan OZDOEV (RUS) in the finals after the Russian edged Azerbaijan’s Islam ABBASOV, 4-3 in a heart-pounding semifinal.

Finals for the first five Greco-Roman matches will begin Tuesday at 7pm local time.


Greco-Roman, 55kg


Semifinal: Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE) df. VasilII TOPOEV (RUS), 9-7

Semifinal: Helary MAEGISALU (EST) df. Ekrem OZTURK (TUR), 4-4


Greco-Roman, 63kg

GOLD: Stig-Andre BERGE (NOR) vs. Mihai Radu MIHUT (ROU)

Semifinal: Mihai Radu MIHUT (ROU) df. Zaur KABALOEV (RUS), 7-5

Semifinal: Stig-Andre BERGE (NOR) df. Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), 2-1


Greco-Roman, 77kg

GOLD: Roman VLASOV (RUS) vs. Viktor NEMES (SRB)

Semifinal: Viktor NEMES (SRB) df. Alex Michel BJURBERG KESSIDIS (SWE), 2-0

Semifinal: Roman VLASOV (RUS) df. Elvin MURSALIYEV (AZE), 4-0


Greco-Roman, 87kg


Semifinal: Bekkhan OZDOEV (RUS) df. Islam ABBASOV (AZE), 4-3

Semifinal: Roberti KOBLIASHVILI (GEO) df. Mikita KLIMOVICH (BLR) by TF, 8-0


Greco-Roman, 130kg


Semifinal: Vitalii SHCHUR (RUS) df. Iakobi KAJAIA (GEO), 5-4

Semifinal: Riza KAYAALP (TUR) df. Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU), 4-0


Sadulaev Serves Russia Sixth Gold to Close out #KaspEuro2018 C'Ships

By Eric Olanowski

KASPIISK, Russia (May 6) – For the second day in a row, the Russian national anthem played a trio of times in Dagestan, Russia as the host nation closed out the 2018 European Championships with six of a possible ten gold medals.

The chants of “Rashid” poured through the Palace of Sport and Youth as Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) won the colossal match-up between Olympic champions, holding off Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 2-1 to win the 92kg European title. 

“My opponent was an Olympic champion. Not just a guy from the street...We train at the same gym, and we know each other’s style of wrestling. That’s why it was such a low scoring match.” 

Sadulaev's, lone takedown in the opening period proved to be the difference as “The Tank” snagged his fourth European championship.

At 61kg, Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS), the Kaspiisk native seized his second European championship by nearly shutting out Beka LOMTADZE (GEO), 4-1. 

“I only live 1km away from The Palace of Sport and Youth, so if I lost, I was heading home on foot.” 

Rashidov, the 2017 world finalist put the first point on the board after Lomtadze, the 2015 European Games runner-up was penalized for not scoring on the activity clock. The Russian followed that up with a takedown to end the opening period, leading 3-0. Rashidov, the two-time continental champion closed the match with step out to in the final period to win the match by three points. 

“I want to dedicate this win to my father. He sold everything he owned so I could wrestle, and he always supports me; whether I win or lose.”

Artur NAIFONOV (RUS), 86kg European champion. (Photo by Max Rose-Fyne) 

Artur NAIFONOV (RUS), the 20-year-old Russian defeated Azerbaijani’s 31-year-old Aleksandr GOSTIYEV (AZE), 1-1 on critiera after trading activity clock points in the 86kg finals. 

“Growing up, Gostiyev was a role model for me, as we’re from the same Republic. I'm pleased to match the level of a wrestler who was once an example for me!”

Five-time European champion, Taha AKGUL (TUR). (Photo by Max Rose-Fyne) 

Turkish wrestlers Taha AKGUL (TUR) and Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) were the other two wrestlers who captured European golds. 

Akgul regained the 125kg top spot after avenging his loss from the 2017 World Championships to Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO), 2-1. 

The Olympic champion added a fifth European title to his resume with two one-point exchanges to knock off the Georgian. 

Demirtas capped off his quest for back-to-back European gold medals by also using two one-point exchanges to defeated Zelimkhan KHADJIEV (FRA), 2-0. 

GOLD - Russia  (204 points)
SILVER - Azerbaijan (160 points)
BRONZE- Turkey (125 points)
Fourth - Georgia (110 points)
Fifth - Belarus (80 points)
Sixth - Poland (59 points)
Seventh - Ukraine (51 points)
Eighth - France (38 points)
Ninth - Germany(36 points)
Tenth - Italy (36 points)


GOLD - Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS) df. Beka LOMTADZE (GEO), 4-1
BRONZE - Recep TOPAL (TUR) df. Niurhun SKRABIN (BLR), 6-6 
BRONZE - Ivan GUIDEA (ROU) df. Mirjalal HASAN ZADA (AZE), 3-1

GOLD -  Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) df. Zelimkhan KHADJIEV (FRA), 2-0 
BRONZE - Frank CHAMIZO MARQUEZ (ITA) df.  Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK), 10-0
BRONZE - Andrei KARPACH (BLR) df. Zaur EFENDIEV (SRB), 10-0

GOLD - Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Aleksandr GOSTIYEV (AZE), 1-1 
BRONZE - Sandro AMINASHVILI (GEO) df. Ahmed Ruslanovic DUDAROV (GER), 4-4 

GOLD - Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) df. Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 2-1 
BRONZE - Kyrylo MIESHKOV (UKR) vs. Irakli MTSITURI (GEO), 6-6 
BRONZE - Serdar BOKE (TUR) vs. Nicolai CEBAN (MDA), 6-4 

BRONZE - Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE) vs. Muradin KUSHKHOV (RUS), 3-0 
BRONZE - Robert BARAN (POL) df. Johannes LUDESCHER (AUT), 6-1