Tumur Ochir's 'god's gift' lands Asian Games gold

By Vinay Siwach

LIN'AN, Hangzhou, China (October 6) -- Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) flips the medal a few times before claiming it as the "best medal and God gift."

The Mongolian has his Asian Games gold medal around his neck. He can't stop staring at it before finally agreeing to speak for the interview.

There is one more thing that he calls a God's gift to him -- underhook, the deadly move he has mastered to win wrestling bouts. 

It's a move that needs timing, accuracy, and perfect execution, combined with power to be perfect. Tumur Ochir has performed the move numerous times in his career and won. But what he did on Friday in the Lin'an Sports Culture and Exhibition Center was perfection. An underhook that brought down Asian champion Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) in the 65kg gold-medal bout was so clean that even Amouzad, who is equally good at it if not better, failed to defend himself.

Once he got the four points, Tumur Ochir continued to punish Amouzad for weak defense from par terre, getting three gut wrenches to win the 65kg gold medal 11-1. This is Tumur Ochir's first gold at a championship or Games at the senior level.

The activity point for Amouzad was the only point that Tumur Ochir gave up in five bouts in Hangzhou, winning other bouts by blanking his opponents. He won three of those 10-0 and the semifinal against Kwang Jin KIM (PRK) via fall.

"God gave me this [move]," Tumur Ochir said. "My body is for wrestling. This is the most important thing for me."

The final in Hangzhou was a rematch of the Asian Championships final from Astan which Amouzad won 3-1. While Tumur Ochir failed to break Amouzad's defense in Astana, he worked it out on Friday.

Once he got the underhook, Tumur Ochir positioned his left arm on Amouzad's biceps. A little adjustment and he launched the throw, using a little pull of Amouzad's left arm. He then transitioned it into a gut wrench and effortlessly turned Amouzad three times.

"In the second round, Amouzad was slowly getting tired and that is when I thought that I could perform this move. It was my chance to score," he said.

Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL)Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) scores against Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) in the 65kg final. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)

Amouzad's conditioning was also in question at the World Championships in Belgrade where he was the defending champion. He finished fifth after suffering a loss to eventual champion Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN) and Shami MAMMEDOV (AIN).

In Hangzhou, Amouzad's first bout against Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB) made it more evident that the weight loss could be hampering his performance on the mat. Amouzad fell behind against Rakhmonov thrice before putting up a 12-6 win using counters. Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) then pushed him to the brink but he held on for a 2-1 win and booked a spot in the semifinal against BAJRANG. The underhook defense worked perfectly against Bajrang who was returning to international competition for the first time in 13 months. Amouzad got a huge four and then added a double-leg lift for another four to win 8-1 to enter the final.

The World Championships were disappointing for Tumur Ochir as well. He was the returning bronze medalist but finished 19th this year after suffering a close loss to Haji ALIYEV (AZE). The loss impacted Tumur Ochir significantly but he recovered from it to push himself at the Asian Games.

"At the World Championships, I lost and it made me feel very bad for a long time," he said. "But in the 10 days after that, I recovered from everything and I got the gold medal and I am really happy. I felt extremely disheartened after the World Championships."

As he failed to win a medal or finish in the top five at the World Championships, Tumur Ochir will have to try an Olympic quota for Mongolia at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Bishkek next year. With no Asian country qualifying at the World Championships barring Iran, it would be a tough ask.

"I will train hard and try my best," he said. "I will need to prepare for the Asian Qualifiers in Bishkek. I am researching about everyone who will be there."

Toshihiro HASEGAWA (JPN)Toshihiro HASEGAWA (JPN) won the gold at 57kg, Japan's first in Freestyle. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)

The second Freestyle gold medal at the Asian Games on Friday was won by former U23 world champion Toshihiro HASEGAWA (JPN) as he defeated Chongsong HAN (PRK) in the final. The gold medal ended Japan's 13-year wait for an Asian Games champion in Freestyle. Tatsuhiro YONEMITSU (JPN) was the last Asian Games champion in 2010.

Yonemitsu, who was in Hasegawa's corner in Hangzhou, himself had ended Japan's 16-year-long wait for a gold medal in the Asian Games after the 1994 edition. 

Hasegawa, 27, was in control of the final from the opening whistle and mostly kept Han under check in the 7-3 win. Han was close to scoring on a few occasions but Hasegawa managed to defend the attacks.

"At the end, there were many times I nearly gave up points," he said. "At that time, I panicked a bit. I could hear [my coach]. I'm the type who listens to the coach, when I hear him, it calms me down. [Hearing to the coach] is not the biggest reason [for the win], but it was a big plus for me."

However, Hasegawa remained unsatisfied with his performance despite winning the gold medal.

"I'm not really that happy," Hasegawa said. "My feeling is that if it weren't for the great deal of support I received, I wouldn't have been here at all. Every time coach {Kenichi] Yumoto is in my corner I can wrestle relaxed. He told me to stay calm. When things get tough, he would shout advice, like the opponent is getting tired, or give it all to the end. I could clearly hear him and that spurred me on."

Toshihiro HASEGAWA (JPN)Toshihiro HASEGAWA (JPN) defeated Asian champion AMAN 12-10 in the 57kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)

Yumoto's advice came in handy in the semifinal against Asian champion AMAN as Hasegawa won 12-10 despite building a 6-1 lead at the break.

Aman stormed back with a takedown and increased the pace of the bout which challenged Hasegawa. But the Japanese was up for the challenge and countered Aman's single-leg attacks with takedowns.

He had earlier beaten Minghu LIU (CHN) and Nodirjon SAFAROV (UZB) 7-0 and 10-0 in the opening bout and quarterfinals.

A product of the Nippon Sports Science University, Hasegawa is employed by San-Ei Transportation along with the World Championships bronze medalist in Greco-Roman 77kg Nao KUSAKA (JPN). Both train full-time at the NSSU campus despite being employed.

"Kusaka got the ball rolling by taking third at the World Championships," Hasegawa said. "Unlike other companies, they really watch out for us. The president is always available and people are calling us. I think I'm really blessed."

In the bronze medal bouts, Asian champion Aman scored a 11-0 technical superiority win over Minghu LIU (CHN) to claim his first Asian Games medal at just 19 years of age. The second bronze medal was won by Nasanbuyan NARMANDAKH (MGL) as he defeated Bekzat ALMAZ UULU (KGZ), 8-2.

At 65kg, Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) put up an impressive display against defending champion and four-time world medalist BAJRANG to win 10-0. The blanking meant that Bajrang will finish without a medal at an international tournament for the first time since 2017.

Kwang Jin KIM (PRK) claimed the other gold medal as he broke Sanzhar MUKHTAR (KAZ) to win 11-6.

Asian GamesThe 65kg medalists at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)


GOLD: Toshihiro HASEGAWA (JPN) df. Chongsong HAN (PRK), 7-3

BRONZE: AMAN df. Minghu LIU (CHN), 11-0
BRONZE: Nasanbuyan NARMANDAKH (MGL) df. Bekzat ALMAZ UULU (KGZ), 8-2

GOLD: Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) df. Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI), 11-1

BRONZE: Kwang Jin KIM (PRK) df. Sanzhar MUKHTAR (KAZ), 11-6


Tazhudinov adds Asian Games title; Iran finishes with 3 golds

By Vinay Siwach

LIN'AN, Hangzhou, China (October 7) -- Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) has not been home to Dagestan yet. The world champion is on the road since winning the gold medal in Belgrade, traveling to Bahrain and now to Hangzhou, China for the Asian Games.

If his village Gergebil was planning for a welcome for his world title, it would now need to be a grand one as Tazhudinov added an Asian Games title on Sunday.

After beating Kyle SNYDER (USA) and Abdulrashid SADULAEV (AIN) in back-to-back matches at the World Championships, Tazhudinov had to travel to Bahrain. The much-awaited welcome in Dagestan was postponed with the Asian Games scheduled from October 4-7 in Hangzhou.

And since it's a once-in-a-four- years Games, Tazhudinov decided to give it a shot.

"This tournament is a bit different from others because it happens only once in four years," Tazhudinov said. "That’s why we didn’t take any rest. We didn’t fly to Dagestan. We went directly to Bahrain, rested a little bit, and started the preparations for the Asian Games. And won it."

If the World Championships saw a high-flying Tazhudinov, the Asian Games witnessed a Tazhudinov who was content with scoring points in a much-reserved manner.

Out of his four wins to the gold medal, only one was a fall while others were on points. He defeated Awusayiman HABILA (CHN) 7-3 in the opening bout, pinned Kanybek ABDULKHAIROV (KGZ) in the quarterfinals, and won 6-1 against Juhwan SEO (KOR) in the semifinals.

Wrestling Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI) in the final, Tazhudinov put out his best performance with Goleij struggling to break the world champion's defense and giving up two takedowns in Tazhudinov's 6-1.

The 20-year-old had beaten Goleij at the Asian Championships semifinal as well but that victory was much closer as he won 13-8. Tazhudinov explained that wrestling at two tournaments in the space of two weeks made him tired which forced him to change the approach.

"I didn’t have enough time to recover after the World Championships that’s why the games went a bit tough for me," he said.

The gold medal made Tazhudinov the first wrestler from Bahrain to win a medal. Before Hangzhou, Bahrain had only entered wrestling at the Asian Games once, in 2018 when Adam BATIROV (BRN) finished seventh in Jakarta. Tazhudinov also credited his coach Shamil OMAROV for his contribution to the historic achievement.

"My coach is very experienced, he raised a two-time Olympic champion [Sadulaev]," he said. "I learn a lot from him, he supports us and he is always here with us."

For now, both Tazhudinov and Omarov will fly to Dagestan and plan for the next season.

"I haven’t been home yet in Dagestan. But I hope they will meet me there nicely," he said. "I don’t know yet about the next tournament. I just want to rest now."

Hassan YAZDANI (IRI)Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) defeated Deepak PUNIA in the 86kg gold medal bout. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)

Yazdani defends gold

Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) was easily the biggest attraction of the final day in wrestling as Iranian fans cheered every point he scored. And Yazdani was cheered on several occasions as he comfortably defended his 86kg gold medal at the Asian Games beating Deepak PUNIA 10-0, his fourth technical superiority win in four bouts in Hangzhou.

Wrestling two weeks after the World Championships in which he reached the final but suffered a fall against David TAYLOR (USA), Yazdani was once again in top form despite a heavily tapped right shoulder.

After a slow first period with Yazdani being the only active wrestler, the final finished in just 2:29 as Yazdani's gut wrenched Punia.

There were little celebrations from Yazdani as he continued to stress that only an Olympic gold medal would make him celebrate a victory.

"Paris Olympics!," Yazdani said to the waiting media in the mixed zone at the Lin'an Sports Culture and Exhibition Center.

Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI)Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) completed a 7-0 win over Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR (MGL). (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)

World champion Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) won his first Asian Games gold medal by beating Asian champion Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR (MGL) 7-0. His high-paced wrestling at this weight makes it extremely difficult for his opponents to remain in the contest.

"His conditioning is very high," Munkhtur said after the final. "The strength part is normal but it's his conditioning which keeps him going for six minutes."

Zare hardly broke a sweat and forced stepout in the final before getting two takedowns to finish the bout.

Zare reclaimed the 125kg world title from Taha AKGUL (TUR) after beating both Akgul and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) in the semifinals and final in Belgrade.

Yones EMAMI (IRI)Yones EMAMI (IRI) became the Asian Games champion at 74kg. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)

At 74kg, Yones EMAMI (IRI) put away the disappointment of missing out on a medal at the World Championships with the 74kg gold in the Asian Games. Emami defeated Asian Championships silver medalist Kirin KINOSHITA (JPN) 9-0 in the final.

With Iran winning three gold medals on the final day, it emerged as the most successful country at the 19th Asian Games, winning five gold, four silver and one bronze medal. Japan finished second with five gold, three silver and four bronze medals.

In the bronze medal bouts, China and Uzbekistan won two each finish the competition on a high.

Defending champion at 74kg Bekzod ABDURAKHMONOV (UZB) bounced back after losing to Emami in the semifinal. He pinned Perman HAMMADOV (TKM) to capture his third Asian Games medal.

Orozobek TOKTOMAMBETOV (KGZ) beat Magomet EVLOEV (TJK), 4-2, in a tense bout to win the second 74kg bronze.

Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) added the second bronze of the night to Uzbekistan's tally as he defeated Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN) 3-0. He was joined by Dovletmyrat ORAZGYLYJOV (TKM) on the podium after the Turkmen denied Bat Erdene BYAMBASUREN (MGL), 12-4.

At 97kg, Asian Championships silver medalist Awusayiman HABILA (CHN) managed to hold off Juhwan SEO (KOR) for a 2-1 victory to give the home country a bronze medal on the final day. The other bronze medal went to Gankhuyag GANBAATAR (MGL) who used two big throws to beat Alisher YERGALI (KAZ), 8-1.

More glory was in store for China as BUHEEERDUN (CHN) managed to go past Yusup BATIRMURZAEV (KAZ), 5-2. Veteran Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ) dished out a final-second gut-wrench to beat Khusanboy RAKHIMOV (UZB), 7-6. Lazarev trailed 6-3 but scored a takedown and turned Rakhimov just before the clock expired to win a hard-fought bronze.

Asian GamesThe 86kg medalists at the Asian Games. (Photo: UWW / Sachiko Hotaka)


GOLD: Yones EMAMI (IRI) df. Kirin KINOSHITA (JPN), 9-0

BRONZE: Bekzod ABDURAKHMONOV (UZB) df. Perman HOMMADOV (TKM), via fall
BRONZE: Orozobek TOKTOMAMBETOV (KGZ) df. Magomet EVLOEV (TJK), 4-2

GOLD: Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) df. Deepak PUNIA, 10-0

BRONZE: Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) df. Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN), 3-0
BRONZE: Dovletmyrat ORAZGYLYJOV (TKM) df. Bat Erdene BYAMBASUREN (MGL), 12-4

GOLD: Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) df. Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI), 6-1

BRONZE: Awusayiman HABILA (CHN) df. Juhwan SEO (KOR), 2-1
BRONZE: Gankhuyag GANBAATAR (MGL) df. Alisher YERGALI (KAZ), 8-1

GOLD: Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) df. Lkhagvagerel MUNKHTUR (MGL), 7-0

BRONZE: Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ) df. Khusanboy RAKHIMOV (UZB), 7-6