Susaki slips up in win; USA, Iran dominate freestyle

By Vinay Siwach

ZAGREB, Croatia (February 2) -- After 1174 days, Yui SUSAKI (JPN) gave up a point in an international bout.

The world and Olympic champion had not been scored upon since 2019 but on Thursday, Jiang ZHU (CHN) pushed Susaki out to score on point in the 50kg final of the Zagreb Open Ranking Series event.

Incidentally, the last opponent who scored on Susaki was also Chinese. Yanan SUN (CHN) scored two points on Susaki at the World Cup in Narita in 2019. Since then, Susaki did not give up any points to her opponents until Zou managed to score late in the final.

The stepout was a small lapse in Susaki's divine concentration but she still managed to outscore her opponents 30-1 in Zagreb, winning her second Ranking Series gold medal and first since the 2018 Klippan Lady Open in Sweden.

"It was my first time wrestling against a rough player, so it was a good experience," Susaki said. "All the countries are working hard for the Paris Olympics so I think the number of new wrestlers coming will increase. I also practice more to become stronger so I can be an absolute champion."

Looking as good as ever, Susaki arm-barred Meng FAN (CHN) for a fall in her first bout before going 10-0 against Jasmina IMMAEVA (UZB) in the quarterfinal. The much anticipated semifinal against four-time Olympic medalist Mariya STADNIK (AZE) did not happen as Stadnik pulled out injured.

"It was my first bout against Stadnik since the Olympics so I was looking forward to it," she said. "But it was disappointing that she had to withdraw. I talked to her and she said let's meet at the World Championships."

In the final Susaki was leading 8-0 after a few takedowns when Zhu pushed her out. But two takedowns later, Susaki won the gold.

"My motivation now is to participate in the Paris Olympics, to win the Olympics for the second time in a row and see what I have not seen before," she said. "I want to do my best so that no one can beat Susaki anymore. As for myself, there are many seniors like Saori YOSHIDA and Kaori ICHO. So I want to do my best to catch up."

Zagreb Open also marked the return of Stadnik to the international United World Wrestling competition since the Tokyo Olympics. She won her first bout against Aktenge KEUNIMJAEVA (UZB) 10-0 but struggled against World Championships silver medalist Otgonjargal DOLGORJAV (MGL).

She scored two takedowns against Dolgorjav but struggled in the second period, showing signs of tiredness. Dolgorjav got a point for passivity and scored a stepout. In the dying second, it seemed like she completed a takedown over Stadnik but on a challenge, it was clear that time had run out.

Stadnik, who has lost to Susaki in all their previous meetings, decided to default in the semifinal citing injury.

Moe KIYOOKA (JPN)Moe KIYOOKA (JPN) won the gold medal at 55kg in Zagreb. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

Moe KIYOOKA (JPN) added the second gold medal for Japan on Thursday as she won the 55kg gold medal after four wins in the Nelson bracket. In Round 5, she defeated Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA) 12-2. The U23 and U20 world champion was untouchable throughout the day and it was Dragutan who managed to score the two points on her.

Kyle SNYDER (USA)Kyle SNYDER (USA) won the 97kg gold medal over Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI). (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

USA, Iran win two golds each

World champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) warmed up for an important year with the gold medal at 97kg in Zagreb while Kollin MOORE (USA) won the gold medal at 92kg.

Snyder wrestled U23 world champion Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI) in the final and won 3-0 after an intense battle. He got a point for Azarpira's passivity in the first period to lead 1-0. He was put on the activity clock in the second period but managed to pushout Azarpira just before the clock expired to lead 2-0.

While Azapira defended well to give up no takedowns, Snyder scored his third point via a stepout to lock the gold medal.

"It was a good [day]," Snyder said. "I wrestled four matches in one day and I like wrestling all matches in one day. I had some quality opponents."

One of them was in Snyder's first bout -- Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) who tested Snyder in the morning session. The Azerbaijan wrestler opened up a 4-1 lead but with Snyder constantly pressuring for a takedown, Magomedov broke down and gave up six points as Snyder won 7-4.

"He is a good opponent," he said. "I get better as I go through the tournament but I needed to get a better warm-up."

He went on to beat Takashi ISHIGURO (JPN) 12-1 in the quarterfinal and Radoslaw BARAN (POL) 10-0 in the semifinal.

Kollin MOORE (USA) defeated Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO) in the 92kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

Moore also had a tough path to the final as he wrestled World Championships bronze medalist Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE) in the first bout and then had a tough semifinal against compatriot Jonathan AIELLO (USA) before pulling a thrilling 4-3 win over another World Championships bronze medalist, Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO), in the final.

After opening with an 8-3 win over Nurmagamedov, Moore dug deep to beat Aiello 6-6. In the final, he scored a takedown before the break to lead 2-1 and opened the second period with a takedown to make it 4-1. Maisuradze did score two stepouts but that was not enough for a win.

Ali SAVADKOUHI (IRI), blue, won the 79kg gold medal over Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO)

At 79kg, Ali SAVADKOUHI (IRI) held on to a 2-1 win over Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) in the final.

Savadkouhi, who became the first wrestler from Iran to beat Jordan BURROUGHS (USA), had a good day in office with wins over Peilong LI (CHN), Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA) and Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO) before the final.

"My rival in the final match was a World Championships medal winner," Savadkouhi said. "[But] I was in good physical condition and I won the match."

All three points in the final were technical points as Savadkouhi got a passivity point before a stepout while he gave up a similar point in the second period. But his strong defense in the final minute kept Kentchadze at bay.

On his future plans, Savadkouhi made it clear that he will wrestle at 79kg at the World Championships in September.

"I will remain in 79kg until the 2023 World Championships and after that, I will prepare to compete in an Olympic weight category."

At 125kg, Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) won the gold medal after his opponent in the final, Giorgi MESHVILDISHVILI (AZE), injury defaulted.





BRONZE: Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO) df. Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA), 13-2
BRONZE: Chandler MARSTELLER (USA) df. Csaba VIDA (HUN), via inj. def.

GOLD: Kollin MOORE (USA) df. Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO), 4-3

BRONZE: Gankhuyag GANBAATAR (MGL) df. Pruthviraj PATIL (IND), 9-1 
BRONZE: Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE) df. Jonathan Leonard AIELLO (USA), 13-2

GOLD: Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI), 3-0

BRONZE: Awusayiman HABILA (CHN) df. Nishan Preet RANDHAWA (CAN), 12-4
BRONZE: Magomedkhan MAGOMEDOV (AZE) df. Radoslaw BARAN (POL), 11-4

GOLD: Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) df. Giorgi MESHVILDISHVILI (AZE), via inj. def.

BRONZE: Robert BARAN (POL) df. Georgi IVANOV (BUL), via fall
BRONZE: Daniel LIGETI (HUN) df. Kamil KOSCIOLEK (POL), 8-1

Women's wrestling

GOLD: Yui SUSAKI (JPN) df. Jiang ZHU (CHN), 12-1

BRONZE: Ziqi FENG (CHN) df. Erin GOLSTON (USA), 12-1
BRONZE: Meng FAN (CHN) df. Mariya STADNIK (AZE), via inj. def.

Round 5: Moe KIYOOKA (JPN) df. Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA), 12-2
Round 5: Erika BOGNAR (HUN) df. Lauren MASON (USA), 4-1



WATCH: 10 freestyle finals from European Championships

By Vinay Siwach

ZAGREB, Croatia (May 11) -- The European Championships in Zagreb gave wrestling fans epic bouts from day one. The continent's freestyle stars fought for the top honors and it was a neck-to-beck battle for supremacy.

Azerbaijan, Turkiye and Armenia won two gold medals each in the competition and Ukraine, Greece, Georgia, and Slovakia took home a gold medal each.

Relive the action from the 10 gold medal bouts of the freestyle competition at the European Championships

GOLD: 57kg - Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE) vs. Suleyman ATLI (TUR)