Russian Women Lead After Day 4; Hungary and Belarus Within Striking Distance

By Eric Olanowski

PONTEVEDRA, Spain (June 6) – Daria KHVOSTOVA (RUS) and Ekaterina VERBINA (RUS) mounted come-from-behind victories in the 50kg and 55kg gold-medal matches respectively and assisted the Russian Federation in carrying a six-point lead over Hungary into the final day of women’s wrestling at the Junior European Championships. 

In the 50kg finals, Daria Khvostova used a late takedown and gut wrench to win the battle of former European champions against Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU), 6-3. 

The pair traded takedowns in the first period, but Khvostova found herself fighting from behind after Priceputu, the U23 world bronze medalist, had the 2-2 lead on criteria heading into the second period. 

The score remained unchanged until the 30-second mark of the second period when the Russian shot a low-level knee pull single, then transitioned into a gut wrench and took the 6-2 lead. Khvostova surrendered a stepout as time expired but held onto the three-point lead and won her second European title, and first since 2016 when she won the 43kg cadet European title in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Ekaterina VERBINA (RUS) scored a pair of takedowns in the final minute of the 55kg finals to defeat Anna SZEL (HUN), 6-6. (Photo: Gabor Martin) 

In the 55kg gold-medal match, Ekaterina Verbina mounted a four-point comeback win with one-minute left and robbed Anna SZEL (HUN) of the European title. 

Verbina surrendered a pair of step outs, but scored two off a beautiful high crotch and had the 2-2 lead on criteria heading into the final three minutes. The Russian’s opponent tagged her with a takedown and gut wrench and grabbed the 6-2 lead heading into the final two minutes of the match. 

With 52 seconds remaining, Verbina picked up her offensive attack rate and to fire off high crotch after high crotch. The 2018 junior world bronze medalist scored twice off those high crotches and nabbed the 6-6 lead on criteria. Verbina held on to improve on her bronze-medal finish from last year, and won her first European title since winning the 2017 cadet European title. 

Russia also picked up a third medal on the day when Marina SUROVTSEVA defeated Greta CEPONYTE (LTU), 8-2 in the 76kg gold medal bout. 

Bernadett NAGY (HUN) shutout Kseniya DZIBUK (BLR),3-0 in the 76kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Hungary and Belarus Within Striking Distance of Russian in Team Race
Hungary (76 points) and Belarus (67 points) sit it second and third respectively and are in striking distance heading into the final day of wrestling in Spain. They each won a gold and a silver on the fourth day of the Junior European Championships. 

Hungary’s champion was Bernadett NAGY (HUN) and Belarus’ champion was Krystsina SAZYKINA (BLR). Nagy won the 76kg title with a 3-0 win over Kseniya DZIBUK (BLR), while Sazykina shutout Erika BOGNAR (HUN), 4-0 in the 59kg finals. 

Freestyle wrestling begins tomorrow morning at 11:00 (local time), and the Day 5 finals will start at 18:00. 


Team Scores (After Day 4) 
GOLD - Russia (79 points)
SILVER - Hungary  (73 points)
BRONZE - Belarus (67 points)
Fourth - Ukraine (64 points)
Fifth - Turkey (52 points)

GOLD - Daria KHVOSTOVA (RUS) df. Stefania PRICEPUTU (ROU), 6-3 
BRONZE - Taru Marketta VAINIONPAEAE (FIN) df. Emanuela LIUZZI (ITA), 5-3

GOLD - Ekaterina VERBINA (RUS) df. Anna Hella SZEL (HUN), 6-6 
BRONZE - Sezen BELBEROVA (BUL) df. Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA), 7-0
BRONZE - Patrycja GIL (POL) df. Darya SINKAVETS (BLR), via fall

GOLD - Krystsina SAZYKINA (BLR) df. Erika BOGNAR (HUN) , 4-0
BRONZE - Veronika RYABOVOLOVA (UKR) df. Kristina MIKHNEVA (RUS), 4-3 
BRONZE - Teresa LUMIA (ITA) df. Angelika MYTKOWSKA (POL), 9-1 

GOLD – Tindra SJOEBERG (SWE) df. Kadriye AKSOY (TUR), via fall 
BRONZE - Ewelina CIUNEK (POL) df. Johanna MEIER (GER), via fall 
BRONZE - Khrystyna MALIAVKA (UKR) df. Marta OJEDA NAVARRO (ESP), 13-3 

GOLD - Bernadett NAGY (HUN) df. Kseniya DZIBUK (BLR), 3-0 


Shirai gives Japan special gold; Georgia win team title

By Vinay Siwach

PONTEVEDRA, Spain (October 23) -- Not only Japan won a freestyle gold at the U23 Worlds after four years, but it was also a historic one.

No Japanese freestyle wrestler has won a world title in over 80kg at any age group. Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN) changed that Sunday with gold at 86kg in Pontevedra, Spain.

On the final day of the U23 World Championships, he stunned one and all to beat Trent HIDLAY (USA) to win 3-3 in the gold medal bout to end a long drought for Japan.

With gold and two bronze medals, Japan finished eighth in the team race which was surprisingly won by Georgia with 141 points. Favorites Iran finished second with 134 points while the USA managed to get third with 112 points.

Georgia crowned two championships while Iran had four but only one wrestler of the former did not reach the medal bouts. Iran had a rather tricky tournament with only five wrestlers reaching the medal bouts.

The USA failed to crown a world champion for the first time since the 2018 U23 World Championships. It won three silver and two bronze medals.

One of the silver medals was won by Hidlay who was surprised by a strong defensive final by Shirai.

"The final was tiring," Shirai said. "After all, it was against the USA. I have never done this before so there was excitement and I had fun."

Shirai did not start on a positive note as Hidlay scored a stepout before making it 2-0 with Shirai's passivity points. But the Japan wrestler scored a stepout before a takedown gave him the lead with two minutes remaining.

He never engaged again. Hidlay, who backs himself with his underhook and pushout, was frustrated as his attacks were easily blocked by Shirai. The referee warned Shirai for not engaging and even penalized him for that.

But Shirai managed to hang on for the win. In freestyle, Hiroaki TAKAGI (JPN) made the 82kg final in the Espoir division (U20) but he was one of the eight wrestlers who failed to win the title.

"My focus is on weight training and sparring," he said. "That's all for me. And I want to improve my training."

At the Japan collegiate championships in August, Shirai won titles in both freestyle [92kg] and Greco-Roman [87kg} at Nippon Sports Science University. 

He now hopes to win a spot on the Japan team for the senior world championships next year. For that, Shirai will wrestle at the Emperor's Cup in December.

"There are many rivals," he said. "I will train hard and win."

Iran's dominance
Out of the five gold medals on offer Sunday, Iran won three of them. U20 world champions Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) and Amirreaza MASOUMI (IRI) added a U23 world title to their respective age-group gold medals.

The third gold was won by Mohmmadsadegh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) who defeated Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV (AZE), 5-2, at 74kg.

Firouzpour gave up a takedown against Gadzhiyev but roared with his own takedown to lead 2-2 at the break, before hitting another own one in the second period to all but seal it for him.

Last year, Firouzpour fell in the final of the tournament but redeemed himself with the gold medal in Pontevedra.

At 92kg, the elder Firouzpour continued his unparalleled domination in age-group world championships. He finished with a bronze medal in the U23 Worlds last year but Firouzpour made sure he amends that record by winning the 92kg gold against Jacob CARDENAS (USA), 10-0.

The third gold medal was won by Masoumi who defeated Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO), 13-2, in the 125kg final. Manasvili scored two stepouts to open the scoring but that was all he would score.

Masoumi exposed the poor conditioning of Manashvili, and scored 13 answered points with ease to win his third gold at age-group tournaments.

The fifth gold was captured by Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) who became a two-time world champion at the U23 level. 

Wrestling Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) in the 61kg, Harutyunyan led 1-0 with the point for passivity. But he started the second period with a takedown to make it 3-0. But Zhumashbek Uulu scored a takedown using duck under in the activity period to lead 3-3 on criteria.

Harutyunyan then rallied for a takedown and leg lace to make it 7-1. A late stepout against Harutyunyan just changed the score of the win. The two-time world bronze medal took home with gold medal 7-5.



BRONZE: Emrah ORMANOGLU (TUR) df. Aaron NAGAO (USA), 9-4

GOLD: Mohmmadsadegh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV (AZE), 5-2

BRONZE: Vasile DIACON (MDA) df. Hrayr ALIKHANYAN (ARM), 7-3 
BRONZE: Vadym KURYLENKO (UKR) df. Temuri BERUASHVILI (GEO), via inj. def.

GOLD: Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN) df. Trent HIDLAY (USA), 3-3


GOLD: Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Jacob CARDENAS (USA), 10-0

BRONZE: Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) df. Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ), 14-3 

GOLD: Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI) df. Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO), 13-2

BRONZE: Anthony CASSIOPPI (USA) df. Yurii IDZINSKYI (UKR), via inj. def.
BRONZE: Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) df. Milan KORCSOG (HUN), 6-1