Ravi, Punia, Oborududu headline this week’s Commonwealth Games

By Eric Olanowski

BIRMINGHAM, England (August 1) --- Some of wrestling’s biggest freestyle and women’s wrestling stars will be headed to Birmingham, England this week, as the 21st edition of wrestling at the Commonwealth Games gets underway August 5-6.

The stacked entry list includes 14 returning medalists – five of which are looking for back-to-back Commonwealth Games golds. But the list is headlined by superstars Kumar RAVI (IND) Bajrang PUNIA (IND) and Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR).

Oborududu and Ravi won silver medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games, while Punia claimed bronze.

Ravi will be making his first appearance at the prestigious Commonwealth Games, while Oborududu and Bajrang will be looking to reach the top of the podium for a second consecutive time.

On the freestyle side of the competition, outside of Ravi and Bajrang, the list of seven returning medalists is headlined by 2018 CWG champ Muhammad INAM (PAK) who’ll compete at 86kg.

Lightweight star Ravi will wrestle at the Olympic weight of 57kg in England after he’s jumped between 57kg and 61kg at the Yasar Dogu, Dan Kolov and Asian Championships. This season, the 25-year-old product from the wrestling powerhouse state of Haryana has a 12-1 record. He’s won golds at the Yasar Dogu Ranking Series event and Asian championship and settled for Dan Kolov silver after falling to Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (ALB), 7-1, in the gold-medal match.

His biggest competition in England will be Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR). The 30-year-old has represented Nigeria at the CWG at every Games since 2010 and has finished with two silvers and a bronze, with the latter coming in 2018.

At 65kg, Bajrang walks into Birmingham as the unquestionable favorite to win the gold. India’s first-ever three-time world medalist will likely have to get past the 12-man bracket’s lone returning CWG medalist in Amas Daniel (NGR). It’ll be Daniel’s fourth straight appearance wrestling at the CWG, where he’s finished with two bronze medals and had a fourth-place finish in 2010.

Muhammad Inam (PAK) is the third returning freestyle champion in action. His biggest competitor at 86kg will be one of the world’s fastest rising stars in Deepak PUNIA (IND)

Punia announced his presence on the senior circuit at the 2019 World Championships, where he stormed past the field to reach the finals and punch India ticket to the Olympic Games. In Tokyo, Punia led Myles AMINE (SMR) in the bronze-medal match but surrendered a last-second takedown and settled for fifth place in Tokyo.

Another guy who could stir up the pot at 86kg is Syerus Eslami (ENG). He’ll be looking to improve on his bronze-medal in front of a friendly English crowd.

In women’s wrestling, there will be stars galore.

Vinesh VINESH (IND), Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) and Oborududu are the trio of returning champs eying a shot at adding their name to the short list of Commonwealth Games two-timers.

Vinesh will return to the mat for the second time since her emotional toll-taking Tokyo Olympic exit which resulted in a ninth-place finish. After taking four months off, she returned to action at the Yasar Dogu Ranking Series event and finished in fifth place. Her pair of losses came at the hands of Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) and Ekaterina ISAKOVA (RWF).

Vinesh’s biggest threat will likely be Canada’s Samantha STEWART (CAN). If the two meet, it’ll be a rematch from the 2021 Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event semifinals where the Indian picked up the fall via cradle 42 seconds into the first period.

Tokyo fifth-place finisher Joseph ESSOMBE TIAKO (CMR) is on a quest to become Cameroon's first-ever Commonwealth Games champion. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 57kg, there are three tier one wrestlers who should vie for the gold medal. Most people expect to see returning champion Adekuoroye or 2021 world silver  Anshu Anshu (IND) in the finals, but Joseph ESSOMBE TIAKO (CMR) is a wrestler who could stop the highly anticipated bout between the Nigerian and Indian.

Coming into Birmingham, Cameroon is 0-3 in gold-medal matches. Essombe Tiako is looking to rewrite the history books as she moves up to 57kg from her Tokyo Olympic fifth-place weight of 53kg.

There’s no secret that Oborududu headlines the 68kg women’s field. The Olympic runner-up and returning CWG champion will likely have to stop Divya KAKRAN (IND) if she wants to join Adekuoroye and Adeniyi OLUWAFUNMILAYO (NGR) as Nigeria’s only two-time CWG women’s wrestling winners.

Follow United World Wrestling on all social media channels for live updates from the Commonwealth Games.

Bajrang PUNIA (IND) is one of three Tokyo Olympic medalists that'll be in action in Birmingham. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Freestyle returning medalist::
57kg - Ebikewenimo Welson (NGR) – bronze

65kg - Bajrang Bajrang (IND) – gold
65kg - Amas Daniel (NGR) – bronze
74kg - Curtis Dodge (WAL) - bronze
74kg - Charlie Bowling (ENG) -– bronze
86kg - Muhammad Inam (PAK) – gold
86kg - Syerus Eslami (ENG) – bronze

Women’s wrestling returning medalist:
50kg Miesinnei Mercy Genesis (NGR) – bronze
53kg - Vinesh Vinesh (IND) – gold
57kg - Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye (NGR) – gold
62kg - Sakshi Malik (IND) - bronze
68kg - Blessing Oborududu (NGR) – gold
68kg - Divya Kakran (IND) – bronze
76kg - Georgina Nelthorpe (ENG) – bronze

Ebikewenimo Welson (NGR)
Romio Ricardo Goliath (NAM)
Ravi Kumar (IND)
Darthe Capellan (CAN)
Justin Holland (AUS)
Suraj Singh (NZL)
Ali Asad (PAK)
Harvey Ridings (ENG)
Jakobo Tanki Tau (RSA)
Gary Giordmaina (MLT)

Amas Daniel (NGR)
Jason Shannon Afrikaner (NAM)
Bajrang Bajrang (IND)
Lowe Bingham (NRU)
Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou (MRI)
Lachlan Mcneil (CAN)
Mostafa Rezaeifar (AUS)
Brahm Richards (NZL)
George Ramm (ENG)
Inayat Ullah (PAK)
Adam Vell12a (MLT)

Ogbonna Emmanuel John (NGR)
Mathayo Matonya Mahabila (KEN)
Mohamed Sesay (SLE)
Jasmit Singh Phulka (CAN)
Hong Yeow Lou (SGP)
Cole Hawkins (NZL)
Thorn Demeritte (BAH)
Charlie Bowling (ENG)
Muhammad Sharif Tahir (PAK)
Arno Van Zijl (RSA)
Curtis Dodge (WAL)
Shanith Yoda Pedige (SRI)
Jacob Ntuyo (UGA)
Naveen Naveen (IND)
John Vake (TGA)

Ekerekeme Agiomor (NGR)
Lesyan Cousin Otomuro (JAM)
Abdur Roshid Hawladar (BAN)
Sheku Kassegbama (SLE)
Deepak Punia (IND)
Jean Frederic Marianne (MRI)
Alexander Moore (CAN)
Weng Luen Gary Chow (SGP)
Jayden Lawrence (AUS)
Taitaifono Tamati (SAM)
Matthew Oxenham (NZL)
Syerus Eslami (ENG)
Muhammad Inam (PAK)
Edward Lessing (RSA)
Suresh Warnakulasuriya Fernando (SRI)

Nishan Randhawa (CAN)
Thomas Barns (AUS)
Maulalo Willie Alofipo (SAM)
Rashji Mackey (BAH)
Tayab Raza Awan (PAK)
Sione Sika (TGA)
Nicolaas De Lange (RSA)
Deepak Deepak (IND)

Aaron Johnson (JAM)
Liton Biswas (BAN)
Mohamed Bundu (SLE)
Kensley Anthony Marie (MRI)
Mohit Mohit (IND)
Amarveer Dhesi (CAN)
Mandhir Kooner (ENG)
Zaman Anwar (PAK)
Aaron Lehauli (TGA)

Odunayo Adekuoroye (NGR) is looking to become a three-time Commonwealth Games champion. She'll compete at 57kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Women’s Wrestling

Rebecca Ndolo Muambo (CMR)
Madison Parks (CAN)
Miesinnei Mercy Genesis (NGR)
Shriyanthika Niroshani Sinhala Pedige (SRI)
Pooja Gehlot (IND)

Mercy Bolafunoluwa Adekuoroye (NGR)
Vinesh Vinesh (IND)
Samantha Stewart (CAN)
Chamodya Keshani Maduravalage Don (SRI)

Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye (NGR)
Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako (CMR)
Zainab Barrie (SLE)
Anshu Anshu (IND)
Veronica Ayo (UGA)
Sophia Omutichio Ayieta (KEN)
Hannah Taylor (CAN)
Danielle Sue Ching Lim (SGP)
Irene Symeonidis (AUS)
Shannon Harry (WAL)
Nethmi Poruthotage (SRI)

Esther Omolayo Kolawole (NGR)
Berthe Emilienne Etane Ngolle (CMR)
Dola Khatun (BAN)
Ana Godinez Gonzalez (CAN)
Kelsey Barnes (ENG)
Sachini Weraduwage (SRI)
Sakshi Malik (IND)

Blessing Oborududu (NGR)
Blandine Nyeh Ngiri (CMR)
Tithy Roy (BAN)
Divya Kakran (IND)
Amylee Sephora Aza (MRI)
Linda Morais (CAN)
Sarah Clossick (ENG)
Chloe Spiteri (ENG)
Tiger Lily Cocker Lemalie (TGA)

Hannah Amuchechi Rueben (NGR)
Madusu Koroma (SLE)
Marie Celeste Andrea Vilbrun (MRI)
Justina Di Stasio (CAN)
Naomi De Bruine (AUS)
Michelle Montague (NZL)
Georgina Nelthorpe (ENG)
Pooja Pooja (IND)

#development, #WrestleBirmingham

UWW-KIMBA partnership helps Ahinsa win Sri Lanka’s first CWG medal

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (August 17): The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, which concluded on August 8, saw some thrilling wrestling action, with athletes from 10 countries finishing on the podium. New rivalries were established in the process and history was rewritten, the latter being true in the case of one wrestler in particular.

Nethmi AHINSA (SRI) won the bronze medal in the women’s freestyle 57kg category, sharing the podium with Hannah TAYLOR (CAN), who also won a bronze, silver medal winner Anshu MALIK (IND) and gold medallist from Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR).

For Ahinsa and her country, though, the medal will hold a special significance. The bronze, after all, was Sri Lanka’s first medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games. And Ahinsa, only 18 years old, was the youngest to win a medal.

Ahinsa’s medal is also a testimony to the success of the UWW’s developmental programs.

Ahinsa had been a part of the Crysbro Next Champ Program, which is run by the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka. As a part of the program, the schoolgirl from the country’s North Western Province was sent to Hungary, where she got exposure to training and competing with some of the top-level athletes.

AHINSANethmi AHINSA (SRI) won a bronze medal in the 57kg weight class in Birmingham.

The UWW funded and supported her three-month training program at its partner center in Hungary, the Kozma István Hungarian Wrestling Academy (KIMBA), in collaboration with the NOC of Sri Lanka, which expressed its gratitude towards UWW and KIMBA.

The partnership between UWW and KIMBA came to fruition during President Lalovic’s visit to Budapest, Hungary, last year in December. During his trip, a partnership was initiated with KIMBA for the global development of the sport. Under the agreement, it was decided that KIMBA would host several international wrestling events, training camps, seminars and other programs.

The positive impact of the collaboration is for all to see, and Ahinsa’s medal at the Commonwealth Games underlines the importance UWW places on such developmental programs.