U23 World Championships day four semis set

By Vinay Siwach

PONTEVEDRA, Spain (October 20) -- The U23 World Championships enter day four with five more women's wrestling weight classes. Three senior world champions are in action Thursday.


Semifinals for the evening session

Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) vs. Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) 
Haruna OKUNO (JPN) vs. Felicity TAYLOR (USA) 

Patrycja GIL (POL) vs. Laura ALMAGANBETOVA (KAZ)
Siwar BOUSETA (TUN) vs. Sae NANJO (JPN) 

Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) vs. Ana GODINEZ (CAN)
Astrid MONTERO (VEN) vs. Iryna BONDAR (UKR) 


Wiktoria CHOLUJ (POL) vs. Sumire NIIKURA (JPN)
Maria NITU (ROU) vs. Amit ELOR (USA) 

13:00: In the final match of the morning session, returning gold medalist Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) is up against Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA). A quick takedown from Dragutan but Yepez reverses it and scores exposure. She leads 4-2. Dragutan with another attack but Yepez throws her off to make it 6-2. Another takedown and high gut wrench from Yepez give her four points. But Dragtun catches her in the middle of another turn for two points. Yepez scores four more points to make it 14-4. But a Moldova challenge sees it reversed to 13-4. In the second period, Yepez scores two points and secures a place in the semifinal against Zenyep YETGIL (TUR).

12:36: Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN), who won the gold at 65kg in Belgrade, moves to the semifinals with a 10-0 win over Asli DEMIR (TUR).

12:33: Returning bronze medalist Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) is moving into the 53kg semifinals with a 10-5 win over Zeltzin HERNANDEZ (MEX). Yetgil lost some gas at the end but managed to hang on.

12:30: Two-time senior world champion Haruna OKUNO (JPN) is on course for her second U23 title. She reaches the semifinal at 53kg with a 6-0 win over Anastasia BLAYVAS (GER).

12:25: Returning gold medalist Ana GODINEZ (CAN) and Yagmur CAKMAK (TUR) at 62kg. Cakmak got a four-pointer but Godinez controlled the bout to win 14-4.

12:20: World champion Amit ELOR (USA) and returning silver medalist Kendra DACHER (FRA) wrestling on Mat A. Elor with a takedown despite some defense from Dacher. Another takedown for Elor on the edge. Dacher is trying to get to the far leg but Elor is quick to throw them behind. Dacher almost scored two but unreal from Elor to use the split and score a takedown. She leads 6-0 at the break. Dacher with exposure on a scramble but Elor finish on top to make it 7-2. Another takedown for Elor. She ultimately gets the fall with 29 seconds remaining on the clock.

12:00: In a battle of world champions, Sae NANJO (JPN) gets the better of Alina HRUSHYNA (UKR) at 57kg. After a slow start, Nanjo scored a takedown via duck under and then used the leg lace to score a 10-0 win.

11:40: Two quick matches at 53kg. Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) wins via technical superiority over Gultakin SHIRINOVA (AZE) while defending champion Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) gut wrenches Meng HSIEH (TPE) for a 10-0 win.

11:10: World champion Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) shows her class again. She gets the takedown and then leg laces Paulina DANISZ (POL) for a 10-0 win at 62kg.

11:05: A little anti-climatic at 65kg. Kateryna ZELENYKH (UKR) and Emma BRUNTIL (USA) were involved in a war at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series but Zelenykh pins Bruntil inside 30 seconds at 65kg.

11:01: Returning world champion Ana GODINEZ (CAN) is made to work hard by Irina KUZNETSOVA (KAZ) but she ultimately prevails 10-0 and moves into the quarterfinals.

10:55: Former world bronze medalist Sae NANJO (JPN) gets a quick start at 57kg. She pins Maria BAEZ (ESP) inside two minutes

10:30: Welcome to day four of the U23 World Championships in Pontevedra. Five women's weight classes are in action with qualification rounds till the semifinals.


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