Returning medalists rule day one at U23 Europeans

By Vinay Siwach

BUCHAREST, Romania (March 13) -- All five returning medalists who were in action on day one of the U23 European Championships made it to their respective finals in Bucharest, Romania.

Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) and Khasay HASANLI (AZE) earned a shot at winning their second straight gold medals while Denis MIHAI (ROU), Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN) and Giorgi TSOPURASHVILI (GEO) have a chance to improve their previous medals to gold.

The U23 European Championships got underway in the Romanian capital with five Greco-Roman weight classes and not many surprises.

Defending champion at 63kg Shotadze entered the final after a clinical performance. He began the day with a 9-0 win over Mairbek SALIMOV (POL) before the semifinal against Ismail CULFA (TUR).

Shotadze gave up passivity in the first period but defended the par terre position. He tried to body lock Culfa who answered with a head pinch. However, both wrestlers failed in their respective moves and Shotadze fell on top of Culfa, earning four points.

With less than a minute remaining in the bout, Culfa got a go behind to cut the lead to 4-3. He tried a front headlock but gave up two points on exposure, enough for Shotadze to win 6-3.

Shotadze will face Tino OJALA (FIN) for the gold medal as the latter became just the fourth wrestler from his country to reach the final at U23 Europeans.

Ojala won his first bout 9-0 and escaped Vitalie ERIOMENCO (MDA) 6-6 in the quarterfinals. He was in trouble in the semifinal against Andrii SEMENCHUK (UKR) after conceding the par terre and a turn. But he managed a near-perfect throw from par terre and a turn to lead 7-3. Semenchuk tried an arm spin that fetched him two points but could not stop Ojala from winning 7-5.

Khasay HASANLI (AZE)Defending champion at 77kg Khasay HASANLI (AZE) reached the final with a 5-1 win over Mykyta POLITAIEV (UKR). (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

At 77kg, Hasanli amassed 19 points in his first two bouts before wrestling Mykyta POLITAIEV (UKR) in the semifinal. He came out on top 5-1. In the final, he will take on U23 world silver medalist Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) who also had a dominating day in the office.

In the semifinal, Gutu defeated U20 world champion Deni NAKAEV (GER) 7-1 using three gut wrenches from par terre after getting the advantage in the first period. Nakaev failed to capitalize on the same in the second period.

Turpan BISULTANOV (DEN)Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN) used his big throws to great effect and reached the 87kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Bisultanov clearly was the most dominant wrestler of the day as he entered the final without giving up a point in three bouts. In the semifinal, he faced Gabriel LUPASCO (MDA) and won 9-0, extending his overall score to 24-0.

He used an arm throw for the first takedown before using the same to get four points. He ended the bout with a gut wrench. Lupasco challenged the call for four points on the second throw but lost.

Bisultanov, who won a silver medal last year, will face David LOSONCZI (HUN) in the final after the Hungary wrestler defeated Muhutdin SARICICEK (TUR) 7-3.

Istvan TAKACS (HUN) denied Bisultanov the gold medal last year and now it will be upon world bronze Losonczi to repeat against the world silver medalist.

Denis MIHAI (ROU)Denis MIHAI (ROU) reached the 55kg final in front of his home crowd in Bucharest. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

At 55kg, Mihai will get yet another chance to win his first championships gold medal. He finished with a bronze medal last year but defeated Eduard STRILCHUK (UKR) 3-0 in the semifinals on Monday.

Mihai has wrestled at 13 World or European Championships in different age groups and reached the final twice. Monday marked his third entry into a final in which he will face Karapet MANVELYAN (ARM).

In a close semifinal, Manvelyan defeated Muhammet CAKIR (TUR) 1-1 after the two wrestlers traded passivities in the bout.

Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR)Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) reached the 130kg final after beating Muhammet BAKIR (TUR). (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

The final gold medal bout on Tuesday will see Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) take on Giorgi Tsopurashvili at 130kg.

U20 world champion Vyshnyvetskyi pinned Muhammet BAKIR (TUR) in the semifinal, his second pin of the day, to earn his spot in his first U23 European final.

Bakir got a turn from par terre to lead 3-0 in the first period but Vyshnyvetskyi scored a four-pointer using a front lock from par terre to lead 5-3. Bakir challenged the call which revealed that the move was dangerous and points were removed.

However, as Bakir got tired, Vyshnyvetskyi got him into a bear hug and launched a four-pointer. Bakir tried a desperate body throw but failed and Vyshnyvetskyi sat on him to get the fall with a minute remaining in the bout.

Tsopurashvili had a one-sided semifinal as he beat Albert VARDANYAN (ARM) 5-0 to set up the final against the Ukraine wrestler.

Bronze medalist from last year, Tsopurashvili used a big arm throw and a stepout early in the bout to claim the victory over Vardanyan. While he has already upgraded his bronze from last year, the Georgian will have a chance to claim the gold medal.




SF 1: Karapet MANVELYAN (ARM) df. Muhammet CAKIR (TUR), 1-1
SF 2: Denis MIHAI (ROU) df. Eduard STRILCHUK (UKR), 3-0


SF 1: Tino OJALA (FIN) df. Andrii SEMENCHUK (UKR), 7-5
SF 2: Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) df. Ismail CULFA (TUR), 6-3

GOLD: Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) vs. Khasay HASANLI (AZE)

SF 1: Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) df. Deni NAKAEV (GER), 7-1
SF 2: Khasay HASANLI (AZE) df. Mykyta POLITAIEV (UKR), 5-1


SF 1: David LOSONCZI (HUN) df. Muhutdin SARICICEK (TUR), 7-3
SF 2: Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN) df. Gabriel LUPASCO (MDA), 9-0


SF 1: Giorgi TSOPURASHVILI (GEO) df. Albert VARDANYAN (ARM), 6-0
SF 2: Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) df. Muhammet BAKIR (TUR), 7-3


Bayramov leads Azerbaijan to U23 Euro title

By Vinay Siwach

BUCHAREST, Romania (March 19) -- When the entry list for the U23 European Championships was released, Azerbaijan thew a surprise by naming Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) at 74kg.

Already an established name, Bayramov last competed at an age-group tournament in 2021. Last year, all his competitions were at the senior level and he won medals in five of them. The only competition he failed to win a medal was the World Championships.

But Bayramov, the leader of the team in Bucharest, made a comeback with a gold medal at the U23 Euros on Sunday, beating Vasil DAICON (MDA) 1-1 in the final to once again throw in his name for the national team.

Azerbaijan has built a massive core group of wrestlers at 70kg and 74kg. Last year, as many as 10 different wrestlers competed in these two weights for Azerbaijan in nine tournaments, all at the level U20 and above. Add U23 European champion at 70kg Magomed KHANIEV (AZE) to it and the list grows to 11.

Two names, however, have been present in more competitions than others and those are Bayramov's and U20 world champion Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE).

The two began the year at the Dan Kolov tournament and Gadzhiev won that final over Bayramov. He also won the U23 Euros last year at 74kg while Bayramov finished third at the senior event.

As Gadzhiev racked up medals at age-group tournaments, Bayramov kept winning at the senior level including a win over Bayramov at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event which also pushed his case for the World Championships. But Bayramov slipped at the biggest event and finished 11th. That gave Gadzhiev new hope.

Come 2023 and Bayramov was asked to represent Azerbaijan at U23 Euros while Gadzhiev has been picked for the senior event in Zagreb, Croatia.

The selection, however, has not bogged Bayramov down. He took the task of reclaiming his spot on the senior team head-on and made a statement by winning the gold.

He also led Azerbaijan to the team title with 140 points, 11 more than Turkiye which finished second. Georgia finished third with 125 points.

In his first three bouts, Bayramov outscored his opponents 32-0. From the other side, Diacon had been equally dominant in reaching the final.

In the final on Sunday, Bayramov used a different tactic and brought out his strongest weapon -- his defense.

The two wrestlers exchanged passivity points with Bayramov getting the second one to lead 1-1 on criteria in the second period. Diacon still had over one minute to score a point and win. However, Bayramov managed to remain in contact and defend as well to win on criteria.

Depending on how Gadzhiev performs at the European Championships, it will be interesting to see how Azerbaijan decides its team for World Championships.

Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA)Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) won the gold medal at 86kg in Bucharest. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

In other action, France crowned its second U23 European champion in two days as U20 world champion Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) captured the gold medal at 86kg.

Before Bucharest, France did not have a single U23 Euro champion in freestyle but that record was broken by Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA) as he won the gold medal at 65kg.

Magamadov, who finished fifth at last year's U23 Europeans, looked in better shape this year and won all but one bout via technical superiority. In the final, he faced Knyaz IBOYAN (ARM) and gave him no chance, finishing the bout with two minutes and 20 seconds remaining.

He began the gold medal bout with two stepouts before a takedown increased his lead to 4-0. He also appeared to be much stronger than Iboyan who could not pick up Magamadov's attacks. Magamadov ended the first period 8-1. He continued his relentless attacks in the second period as well and scored a takedown before a stepout confirmed his 11-1 win over Iboyan.

The gold once again confirmed Magamadov's rise at 86kg who has medaled at U17, U20 and now U23 Europeans along with U17 and U20 Worlds.

Andrii DZHELEP (UKR)Andrii DZHELEP (UKR) celebrates after beating Mezhlum MEZHLUMYAN (ARM) in the 61kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

At 61kg, '21 European silver medalist Andrii DZHELEP (UKR) lived up to the 'favorite' tag and won the gold in dominating fashion over Mezhlum MEZHLUMYAN (ARM).

Dzhelep, a former U17 world and European champion, failed to win a medal at his previous two competitions but made a comeback to start the new season with a bang.

Mezhlumyan did well to keep Dzhelep quiet for the opening minute but then got tossed for a four-pointer. He survived the pin but could not stop Dzhelep from scoring a gut wrench and a full 360-degree throw for another four.

The win puts Dzhelep as one of the front-runners to take the spot on the national team but Kamil KEYRMOV (UKR) is the most likely choice for now.

Andro MARGISHVILI (GEO)Andro MARGISHVILI (GEO) completes a takedown on Muhammed GIMRI (TUR) in the 92kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

U20 World and European silver medalist Andro MARGISHVILI (GEO) claimed his first international gold medal by beating Muhammed GIMRI (TUR), 7-1, in the 92kg final.

Margishvili shot a double-leg to catch Gimri off guard and scored a takedown soon after giving up a stepout. Gimri was penalized for intentionally going out of bounds and the bout restart in par terre with Margishvili leading 3-1. However, no more damage was done.

In the second period, Margishvili countered Gimri's attempt to reach for his far leg with a takedown to extend his lead to 5-1. Gimri got his opportunities as well as he got behind Margishvili twice but failed to score. It was another counter when Margishvili scored a takedown to lead 7-1.

Gimri had around two minutes to score and win but Margishvili's defense and Gimri's deteriorating conditioning meant that the latter held off for a win.

Georgi IVANOV (BUL)Georgi IVANOV (BUL) became the first Bulgarian to win the U23 European gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Bulgaria gets gold

Bulgaria crowned its first-ever U23 European champion as Georgi IVANOV (BUL) won the 125kg gold medal over Volodymyr KOCHANOV (UKR), 10-0.

Ivanov, who had a best finish of eighth at U23 Euros before Sunday, stunned everyone with the dominance he displayed in Bucharest. He defeated Azamat KHOSONOV (GRE) 6-0 before dealing with Efe AL (TUR) 6-2 in the semifinals.

In the final against Kochanov, Ivanov scored an arm throw but only for two. Kochanov and Ivanov were then involved in a mini-battle of arm throws but did not get much out of it. Before the break, Ivanov scored a stepout.

He then managed to hit a couple of counters and stepout and lead 8-0. The final move could not have been more Ivanov as he tried an arm spin, failed at it but jumped straight to hold one of the legs of Kochanov and complete a takedown to win 10-0.

Bulgaria has two silver medalists at U23 Euros before Sunday but now has the champion in Ivanov. Incidentally, one of the two silver medalists is Dimitar IVANOV (BUL), a brother of Georgi.

Kochanov would be thanking his stars after reaching the final he had no business being in. After Vakhit GALAYEV (AZE) and Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO) were disqualified, Kochanov got the chance to wrestle in a semifinal.

He had lost to Manashvili in the quarterfinals and was promoted to wrestle a semifinal against Martin SIMONYAN (ARM) who had lost to Galayev. 



GOLD: Andrii DZHELEP (UKR) df. Mezhlum MEZHLUMYAN (ARM), 10-0

BRONZE: Emre KURAL (TUR) df. Daviti ABDALADZE (GEO), 11-5

GOLD: Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) df. Vasile DIACON (MDA), 1-1

BRONZE: Krisztian BIRO (ROU) df. Nikolay DIMITROV (BUL), 10-0

GOLD: Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) df. Knyaz IBOYAN (ARM), 11-1

BRONZE: Joshua MORODION (GER) df. Vladyslav PRUS (UKR), via fall

GOLD: Andro MARGISHVILI (GEO) df. Muhammed GIMRI (TUR), 7-1

BRONZE: Sergey SARGSYAN (ARM) df. Abduljalil SHABANOV (AZE), 8-5

GOLD: Georgi IVANOV (BUL) df. Volodymyr KOCHANOV (UKR), 10-0

BRONZE: Martin SIMONYAN (ARM) df. Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO), via disqualification
BRONZE: Efe AL (TUR) df. Azamat KHOSONOV (GRE), 6-3