Russia Puts All 3 Women Into Semis; Renteria's Quest for More Olympic Glory Ends

By Ken Marantz

SOFIA, Bulgaria (May 7) -- A day after Russia assured it would send a full men's freestyle team to the Tokyo Olympics, the women have a chance to do the same with a task three times as hard.

All three Russian women advanced to the semifinals at the final world Olympic qualifying tournament on Friday in Sofia, Bulgaria, putting them one win away from securing berths at the Tokyo Games.

For two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jackeline RENTERIA (COL), the door to another Olympics was slammed shut when she fell 7-2 in the second round at 62kg to Kriszta INCZE (ROU).

Should Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) at 53kg, Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) at 57kg and Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) at 62kg be successful in the night session at the Arena Armeec Sport Hall, it will allow Russia to join Olympic host Japan, China and the United States as countries entered in all six women's weight classes in Tokyo.

Mongolia also has a chance to become a member of that elite group after Bolortuya KHURELKHUU (MGL) made it to the last four at 62kg, and did it in dramatic fashion.

Khurelkhuu was trailing 6-1 against Nathaly GRIMAN (VEN) with 1:14 left in their quarterfinal match when she used an arm drag to get behind, then levered her opponent over with a chicken wing to record a fall.

In the semifinal, Khurelkhuu will face Veranika IVANOVA (BLR), who stormed to an 11-0 technical fall over Mariana CHERDIVARA (MDA).

The other semifinal will pit Ovcharova, the 2019 world silver medalist at 59kg, against Luisa NIEMESCH (GER), who forced a stepout with :11 left to upend Berthe ETANE (CMR) 2-2 in the quarterfinals.

Ovcharova advanced with a victory by fall over Incze, this year's European bronze medalist at 65kg who couldn't replicate her giant-killing ways.

On Thursday, the Russian men completed the Olympic set in freestyle by filling the lone hole in the lineup at 125kg. The women came to Sofia with three places to fill, and their entrants have stepped up so far to the challenge.

Facing arguably the toughest task will be Chumikova at 57kg, as she has to face Grace BULLEN (NOR), who has been completely dominant in her quest to become just the second Norwegian woman in history to qualify for the Olympics.

Bullen, the 2020 European gold medalist and 2018 world U23 champion, opened her run by tearing apart Linda MORAIS (CAN), the 2019 world champion at 59kg. She then followed that with a 10-0 rout of 2020 European bronze medalist Sara LINDBORG (SWE).

Chumikova, this year's European silver medalist at 59kg, followed a technical fall with a 7-2 victory in the quarterfinals over 2019 European champion Emese BARKA (HUN).

"What can I say, today was great. I wrestled good," Chumikova said.

In the other 57kg semifinal, Giullia OLIVEIRA (BRA) will take on Mathilde RIVIERE (FRA). Oliveira advanced with a 16-5 technical fall over Nuraida ANARKULOVA (KGZ), while Riviere won her opening match 5-0 then received a bye in the semis because of a double forfeit in the other half of her quarterfinal bracket.

"I am very happy with my performance today and I really believe that all the work I have done until now will give me the result that I have always dreamed for," Oliveira said. "I have really wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a kid."

While Russia was putting three wrestlers into the quarterfinals, Venezuela, which has no places yet at Tokyo, became the only other country with more than one, with Betzabeth ARGUELLO (VEN) advancing at 53kg and Maria ACOSTA (VEN) at 76kg. Nineteen other countries have a single semifinalist.

Arguello defeated Sezen BELBEROVA (BUL) by fall to set up the showdown with Khoroshavtseva, who shrugged off giving up an early 4-point move before securing a lace lock and rolling to a 15-4 technical fall over Zeynep YETGIL (TUR).

The other 53kg semifinal will pit Samantha STEWART (CAN) against Andreea ANA (ROU).

Stewart, a bronze medalist at the Matteo Pellicone tournament earlier this year, chalked up a pair of technical falls, the second over Hilary HONORINE (FRA) to advance to the semifinals.

"Today has been really good and I am excited for this opportunity," Stewart said. "I have been training really hard for this. I am very focused on the next bout and I am planning like one takedown at the a time."

At 76kg, Acosta's path to Tokyo is currently blocked by Alla BELINSKA (UKR), the European champion at 72kg who will be aiming to give Ukraine a fifth women's berth. Acosta advanced with a 7-2 win over Patrycja SPERKA (POL), while Belinska topped Catalina AXENTE (ROU) 5-0.

Yasemin ADAR (TUR), the 2020 European silver medalist and 2019 champion, pinned 2019 world U23 and junior champion Milaimys MARIN (CUB) to make the other 76kg semifinal, where she will face Martina KUENZ (AUT), a 4-1 winner over Zsanett NEMETH (HUN).

That will be a rematch of their clash in the quarterfinals at the European Olympic qualifier in Budapest, which Kuenz won by fall after leading 9-5. That avenged two previous losses to Adar.

"I am here for the ticket and in the end it doesn't matter how I win the matches as long as I win them," Kuenz said. "Now I am wrestling in the Tokyo qualifying match. I am ready for it. Same thing, as long as I keep winning, I will be happy."

Kuenz said she does not feel pressure. "My mentality is my strength so I am just excited to fight again against the Turkish girl," she said. "In the last bout at European qualifier I won the match, and I am sure she is not excited about wrestling against me."

At 68kg, Rio 2016 Olympian Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE) has a chance to become the lone wrestler in Tokyo from her country when she faces 2020 European champion Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL).

Hanzlickova defeated Danute DOMIKAITYTE (LTU) 8-0, while Hristova followed an opening match fall with a 12-2 technical fall over Nisha DAHIYA (IND).

"I was nervous before my matches because this finger [left index] was injured before," Hanzlickova said. "And before the quarterfinal, I injured another one. I was nervous because of that.

"But right before the matches I felt good and confident and it went well. The quarterfinal was tough, but I was in control so I was able to win."

India will get a chance to pick up a fourth Olympic women's spot when Seema BISLA (IND) faces Anna LUKASIAK (POL) in the 50kg semifinals in a clash of continental bronze medalists.

The other berth will go to the winner between Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) and Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG).

Day 2 Results

Women's Wrestling


Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) vs Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG)

Seema BISLA (IND) df. Emma MALMGREN (SWE) by Fall, 5:16 (10-2)
Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG) df. Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA) by TF, 11-0, 4:22
Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) df. Julie SABATIE (FRA), 4-2


Andreea ANA (ROU) vs Samantha STEWART (CAN)

Samantha STEWART (CAN) df. Hilary HONORINE (FRA) by TF, 10-0, 2:49
Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) df. Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) by TF, 15-4, 3:32
Andreea ANA (ROU) df. Luisa VALVERDE (ECU), 7-0
Betzabeth ARGUELLO (VEN) df. Sezen BELBEROVA (BUL) by Fall, 4:21 (6-1)


Giullia OLIVEIRA (BRA) vs Mathilde RIVIERE (FRA)
Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) vs Grace BULLEN (NOR)

Grace BULLEN (NOR) df. Sara LINDBORG (SWE) by TF, 10-0, 3:51
Giullia OLIVEIRA (BRA) df. Nuraida ANARKULOVA (KGZ) by TF, 16-5, 4:36
Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) df. Emese BARKA (HUN), 7-2
Mathilde RIVIERE (FRA) won by default


Veranika IVANOVA (BLR) vs Bolortuya KHURELKHUU (MGL)

Bolortuya KHURELKHUU (MGL) df. Nathaly GRIMAN (VEN) by Fall, 5:03 (5-6)
Luisa NIEMESCH (GER) df. Berthe ETANE (CMR), 2-2
Veranika IVANOVA (BLR) df. Mariana CHERDIVARA (MDA) by TF, 11-0, 1:57
Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Kriszta INCZE (ROU) by Fall, 3:17 (6-0)



Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) df. Nisha DAHIYA (IND) by TF, 12-2, 2:13
Elis MANOLOVA (AZE) df. Luz VAZQUEZ (ARG), 2-2
Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) df. Dalma CANEVA (ITA) by TF, 10-0, 3:42


Yasemin ADAR (TUR) vs Martina KUENZ (AUT)

Alla BELINSKA (UKR) df. Catalina AXENTE (ROU), 5-0
Yasemin ADAR (TUR) df. Milaimys MARIN (CUB) by Fall, 1:40 (2-0)
Maria ACOSTA (VEN) df. Patrycja SPERKA (POL), 7-2
Martina KUENZ (AUT) df. Zsanett NEMETH (HUN), 4-1


#WrestleSofia: 22 continental champs headed to U20 Worlds

By Eric Olanowski

SOFIA, Bulgaria (August 11) -- Future stars of freestyle wrestling will head to Bulgaria’s capital in troves, as 22 reigning continental champions will be in action next week at the U20 World Championships.

That means there will be at least two continental champions vying for world supremacy in nine of the ten weight classes.

At 57kg, continental gold medalists Simone PIRODDU (ITA) and Merey BAZARBAYEV (KAZ) are the favorites to reach the finals of the 22-man bracket that features a total of four continental medalists.

Simone PIRODDU (ITA)Simone PIRODDU (ITA) won the U20 European Championships with a 26-5 scoring run. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Italy’s Piroddu won five matches at the U20 European Championships earlier this year and dominated in all matches but one -- his opening round bout -- where he eked out a 4-4 win over Seyfulla ITAEV (FRA). Outside of that match, the 2018 U17 world bronze medalist outscored his four remaining opponents 26-5 to win his second career age group European title. He also won the 2019 U17 European title.

His biggest test will likely be Kazakhstan’s 19-year-old Bazarbayev.

Bazarbayev has an impressive 6-2 record during his 2022 campaign, highlighted by his U20 Asian gold medal and bronze-medal finished at the senior-level Bolat Turlykhanov Cup Ranking Series event.

Other wrestlers to pay attention to are Harutyun HOVHANNISYAN (ARM) and Luka GVINJILIA (GEO) who won European silver and bronze medals respectively.

Nicholas BOUZAKIS (USA)Nicholas BOUZAKIS (USA) is the 61kg Pan-Am champion. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)

Reigning continental champs Daviti ABDALADZE (GEO), Armin HABIBZADEH (IRI) and Nicholas BOUZAKIS (USA) are all looking to navigate the loaded 61kg bracket and win their first world titles.

There will be six U20 continental medalists wrestling on the 21-man 61kg chart.

Georgia’s U20 European gold medalist Abdaladze will be wrestling in his third age-group World Championships. He fell one match short of medaling at the ’18 and ’19 U17 World Championships, finishing in fifth place in both Championships.

Habibzadeh will be competing on the international scene for the second time in his career. The first came in Manama, Bahrain, where he won three matches and claimed the U20 Asian title.

Bouzakis, this year’s U20 Pan-American champion, will be looking to improve his 8th-place finish from last year’s U20 World Championships. But in Ufa, the 19-year-old American competed in Greco-Roman but will switch styles and try his hand at freestyle.

Outside of the trio of champs, other 2022 continental medalists to be on the lookout for are Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA), Maiis ALIYEV (KAZ), Mohit KUMAR (IND) and Hayk ABRAHAMYAN (ARM).

Arsamerzouev and Aliyev were continental silver medalists while Abrahamyan was a European bronze medalist.

SUJEET (IND)SUJEET (IND) is unbeaten in three international tournaments. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)

At 65kg, Mykyta ZUBAL (UKR) and SUJEET (IND) are the favorites to tussle for gold.

Zubal is one of the most offensive guys entered in the competition. The 19-year-old Ukrainian scored 42 points in his four matches en route to winning the U20 European title earlier this year.

His biggest test will likely be India’s Sujeet who dominated his way to the U20 Asian title last month. He picked up four wins – including three shutout wins totaling 28-0. He also won the senior-level Ranking Series event in Tunis and claimed the gold medal at the U23 Asian Championships.

Other guys looking to disrupt the party will be continental silver medalists Ayub MUSAEV (BEL) and former U17 world champion Umidjon JALOLOV (UZB) and bronze medalist Olzhas OLZHAKANOV (KAZ).

Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM)Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM) is the 70kg U20 European Championships. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Another weight class that’ll house a trio of continental champs will be 70kg. Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM), Hossein MOHAMMAD (IRI) and Mitchell MESENBRINK (USA) are champions in Europe, Asia and the Americas respectively. Each guy will be competing on the world stage for the first time in their career.

Other guys who have set the bar high for themselves are Asian silver medalist Mulaym YADAV (IND) and European bronze medalists Muhammad ABDURACHMANOV (BEL) and Pavel ANDRUSCA (MDA).

The most intriguing weight in Sofia will undoubtedly be 74kg as it has three top contenders, with the front runners being returning world champion Erfan ELAHI (IRI), Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) and Alexander FACUNDO (USA).

Depending on how the bracket plays out, there’s the potential to see a rematch from last year’s U20 world finals at 70kg between Elahi and Gadzhiev, where the Iranian snuck out the 6-5 victory over the four-time age-group European champion to win his first world title.

But Facundo will look to stop either guy if they step in his path of winning a third age-group world medal. He won U17 world bronze medals in 2018 and 2019 but has his sights set on reaching the world finals and claiming gold for the first time in his career.

Sagar JAGLAN (IND), the U17 world champion from 2021, will also look to finish among the medalists.

Mushegh MKRTCHYAN (ARM) and Sobhan YARI (IRI), the pair of 2022 continental champs, are the betting favorites to vie for the 79kg gold medal.

Mkrtchyan will be making his first appearance on the world stage, while Yari is undoubtedly heading to Bulgaria with a chip on his shoulder. He lost his only match to Stambul ZHANYBEK UULU (KGZ) and finished in a disappointing 11th place at last year’s U20 World Championships.

Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA)Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) is a returning silver medalist. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

At 86kg, Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) will look to become the second-ever French freestyle wrestler to win a U20 world title. The defending U20 European champion fell one match short at last year’s U20 World Championships after dropping his finals bout to Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI).

His biggest test will be reigning Asian champion Aref RANJBARI (IRI). This will be the Iranian’s first-ever trip to the World Championships.

A few guys who could disrupt the bracket are continental runner-ups Daviti KOGUASHVILI (GEO) and Batbilguun NAADAMBAT (MGL), and continental bronze medalists Nazar DOD (UKR), Jointy KUMAR (IND) and Cesar ESTRADA (GUA).

At 92kg, outside of betting-odds favorite and reigning U23 world champion Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI), there are six guys with continental podium finishes in 2022, with the biggest star being European champion Ion DEMIAN (MDA). There are nine weights with at least a pair of continental winners, with Demian having the luxury of being the lone ranger in the weight.

His biggest competition will likely come from Europe, as the other three guys who shared the U20 European podium -- Andro MARGISHVILI (GEO), Adlan VISKHANOV (FRA) and Denys SAHALIUK (UKR) – are all looking to put an end to Demian’s hot-streak.

Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI)Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI) is the U20 Asian champion. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)

The favorites to clash for world supremacy at 97kg are Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI) and Benjamin KUETER (USA).

Azarpira heads into Bulgaria with an unblemished 8-0 international record and is looking to add a second world title to his resume. Last year, he claimed gold in Belgrade at the U23 World Championships.

This will be Pan-American champion Kueter's first showing at the World Championships.

Other hammers with a shot at winning a world medal are continental bronze medalists
Georgian TRIPON (ROU) and Zelimkhan MUSSIKHANOV (KAZ).

Nicholas FELDMAN (USA)Nicholas FELDMAN (USA) is the U20 Pan-Am champions. (Photo: UWW / Osvaldo Aguilar)

In addition to reigning U17 world champion Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI), Lyova GEVORGYAN (ARM) and Nicholas FELDMAN (USA) are the pair of guys with the most significant upside at 125kg.

Gevorgyan, the reigning three-time age-group European champion, is looking for his third world medal. He finished with a bronze and silver, respectively, at the 2019 and 2021 age-group world championships.

This will be Feldman, the reigning Pan-Am heavyweight champion’s first appearance at the World Championships.

Other continental medalists to keep an eye on are: Merab SULEIMANASHVILI (GEO), Adil MISIRCI (TUR), Georgi IVANOV (BUL), Mahendra GAIKWAD (IND), Bekzat TAZHI (KAZ) and Roger LI (CAN).

Freestyle action gets underway in Bulgaria on Monday (August 15). You can watch all the action live on uww.org.