Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! December 16, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing this week's All Japan Championships and U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier. Also looking at Amine winning San Marino’s Atleta Dell’Anno Athlete of the Year and recent modifications to the draw process and World Cup Events.

1. All Japan Championships (Emperors Cup) Begins Thursday
There’s no shortage of Japanese wrestling storylines for this week, as a star-studded cast of world and Olympic champions are set to take the mat at Tokyo’s Komazawa Gymnasium for the All-Japan Championships (also known as the Emperors Cup), which starts December 19-22. 

Among the list of all-stars that’ll be looking to win an Emperors Cup crown will be Sara DOSHO, Takuto OTOGURO, Shinobu OTA, Yui SUSAKI and Eri TOSAKA.

Dosho, the Rio Olympic champion, will have an uphill battle in booking her ticket to the Asian Olympic Qualifier, as she’ll be joined in the 68kg bracket by U23 world champions Masako FURUICHI and Yuka KAGAMI. 

Although 2017 world champion Otoguro punched Japan’s ticket to the Olympic Games at 65kg with a fifth-place finish in Nur-Sultan, he still needs to cement himself as the top guy in the country at the weight. He's the unquestionable favorite to win the weight.

Ota, this year’s 63kg world champion, will be wrestling up a weight at 67kg. He planned on dropping down to 60kg, but after Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) won the 60kg world title, he locked up his seat on Japan’s Olympic team at the weight. This left Ota with no other choice than to move up to the Olympic weight of 67kg. In his debut up at 67kg, Ota will look to challenge defending national champion Shogo TAKAHASHI, defending national runner-up Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA and last year’s U23 world champion Katsuaki ENDO, for the 67kg spot.

Yui Susaki, a two-time world champion and Olympic champion Eri Tosaka are both entered at 50kg. The pair of hammers will be joined by Yuki IRIE, who was Japan’s representative at the 2019 World Championships. 

The winners of each weight class will book their trip to Xi’an, China, for the Asian Olympic Qualifier, where they'll hope to qualify their respective weight classes for the Toyko Olympic Games.

The All Japan Championships can be followed on https://www.japan-wrestling.jp/2019/12/15/155990/.

2. Amine Named San Marino’s Athlete of the Year
Myles AMINE continues to have a life-defining year that he’ll surly never forget. Months after the 23-year-old became his nation's first-ever freestyle Olympian, Amine was named San Marino’s Atleta Dell’Anno Athlete of the Year. 

The award comes on the heels of Amine making San Marinian history at both the European Games and the World Championships. In June, Amine edged Alexander GOSTIYEV (AZE), 3-3, in the bronze-medal bout in Minsk and became the first wrestler from San Marino to win a medal at the European Games. Then, on the eighth day of wrestling in Nur-Sultan, Amine again made history for his nation when he advanced to the semifinals in the World Championships and clinched a spot at 86kg in the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Amine ultimately went on to finish in fifth place at the World Championships. And as expected, since the World Championships, Amine has announced that he’ll, in fact, be the 86kg representative for San Marino come August at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

3. Wrestling Announces New Format for Senior World Cup Events
United World Wrestling has announced a change in the format for Senior World Cup events. 

Senior World Cup events will now be held in November or early December of non-Olympic years. The events will be contested over two days, Friday and Saturday.  

The numbers of teams competing in each style will be reduced from eight to six. The top five wrestling nations from the previous Senior World Championships in each style will qualify for the event. In addition to the five qualified countries, an All-Star team will be selected based on the highest ranked wrestlers from the previous Senior World Championships who compete for non-qualified countries. 

The proposal was made by the Technical Commission and approved by the Executive Committee.

"We fully expect this new format to appeal to more fans from across the world," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic. "The addition of an All-Star team is unique. We are excited to see their impact on the event."

National Wrestling Federations and cities to are expected provide bids in the coming months. More details will be released in the new year.

4. Wrestling Modifies Draw, Brings Blockchain to the Mats
United World Wrestling has announced the implementation of a new draw process for competitions that includes the use of Blockchain technology to ensure a certifiably random assignment of athletes into competition brackets. The system, a first in the Olympic movement, has been reviewed, approved and applauded by the International Olympic Committee.

"We are always striving to improve our operations and guarantee total transparency in our draw process," said United World Wrestling IT Director Sebastien Guenat. " I'm happy we can introduce Blockchain as it will save us time during the draw of weight categories and ensure absolute random assignments."

The draws themselves will now only occur once per style. In effect, the draws will mean that athletes, coaches, and fans will be able to see some brackets up to three days in advance of the competition.

"This is a major step forward for us because it allows coaches to know in advance the opponent of their wrestlers in order to adjust their preparation," said United World Wrestling Sports Director Jean-Daniel Rey. "The process is always under review and these changes signal that we are ready to adapt to the needs of our coaches, athletes, and fans."

Click here for United World Wrestling's full release about the new draw process.

Spencer LEE (USA), the three-time age-group world champion, will make his freestyle return for the first time since 2016. (Photo: Justin Hoch)

5. Three-time World Champ Lee to Make Return this Week at U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier 
America’s most credential age-group wrestler, Spencer LEE (USA), is set to make his freestyle return this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, at the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier. The three-time age-group world champion will return to freestyle action for the first time since he won his 2016 junior world title in Macon, France. 

Lee’s return comes at a much-needed weight class for the United States where they have yet to qualify a spot for the Olympic Games, 57kg. Their Nur-Sultan representative Daton FIX (USA) dropped to a 12th place finish at the World Championships, which was the lowest finish at the weight for the Stars and Stripes since the 2014 World Championships and their second-lowest finish over the last decade.

Lee has to finish top-five this weekend to qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which will take place in State College, Pennsylvania, on April 4-5.

Our friends at www.flowrestling.org have the streaming rights to the two-day tournament which kicks off Friday. Wrestling at the U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier begins at 11:00 (local time) on December 20.

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media
1. Big Move Monday -- Valdes Tobiera A. @alejandrovaldestobier (CUB) -- Senior Worlds 2019 #WrestleNursultan
2. #TBT - Icho Wins Tenth and Final World Title
3. @hasan_yazdani73 leads Iran 🇮🇷 and China 🇨🇳 through a joint workout while the two countries train together in Iran.
4. Sunday smiles 😃!
5. India’s 🇮🇳 Deepak PUNIA has been named United World Wrestling’s Junior Freestyle Wrestler of the Year. 

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! March 17, 2020

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Valencia Escoto and Destribats' historic performances at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifiers. Also looking at Cuba's GR team qualifying every weight for #Tokyo2020 and Olympic champs Maroulis and Wiebe qualifying their nation's for the Tokyo Games.

1. Valencia Escoto First Mexican Woman to Qualify for Olympic Games
Alma Jane VALENCIA ESCOTO (MEX) became the first-ever Mexican women's wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games after winning the 57kg gold medal at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. She won all four of her bouts in Ottawa – including a win by fall over world champion Linda MORAIS (CAN) and a victory via forfeit over Helen MAROULIS (USA).

Valencia Escoto opened her day up with a pair of decisive wins over Betzabeth SARCO COLMENAREZ (VEN) and Nes RODRIGUEZ TIRADO (PUR), which inserted her into the semifinals against Canada's reigning world champion, Linda Morais. 

In her semifinals meeting with the current 59kg world-title holder, Valencia Escoto stopped an early open double-leg attempt with a counter-offensive throw. She snuck in an underhook on the Canadian's right side during her shot attempt and tossed her to her back for the early 4-0 lead. 

Valencia Escoto's opponenet fought off her back and nearly scored a takedown of a slide by attempt. Still, somehow, the newly-minted Olympian had the world champion fighting off her back for the second time in the opening period. 

The tides turned quickly, and Valencia Escoto was the one fighting off her back. She got saved by the period-ending whistle and carried the 6-2 lead into the closing period.

In the final period, Valencia Escoto halted a left side high crotch attempt and flattened Morais for the fall – becoming the first-ever Mexican women to wrestle at the Olympic Games.

Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) finished in second place at 65kg at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier and qualified Argentina for the Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

2. Destribats Ends 24-year Argentinean Freestyle Olympic Drought
Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) ended a 24-year Argentinean freestyle Olympic drought and qualified his nation for the Tokyo Olympics after he pinned American Zain RETHERFORD (USA) in the 65kg semifinals. With his semifinal victory via fall, Destribats became the first Argentinean freestyle wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games since Paulo IBIRE (ARG) did so at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

In his meeting with the Retherford, Destribats conceded an open double leg and nearly gave up an ankle lace but was able to fend off the turn and catch the American on his back. He held Retherford on his back for 25 seconds before picking up the opening period fall to secure his spot at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Helen MAROULIS (USA) qualified the United States for the Olympic Games at 57kg with her silver-medal finish at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

3. Olympic Champs Maroulis and Wiebe Qualify Nation's for Olympic Games 
Olympic champions Helen MAROULIS (USA) and Erica WIEBE (CAN) qualified their nations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing in the top-two of their respective weights at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. The pair remained on course to defend their gold medals from the Rio Olympic Games. 

Maroulis, who was wrestling in her first international competition since the 2018 World Championships, won four matches before injury defaulting out of the finals after locking up the United States' spot at 57kg for the Olympics.

In her first match, Maroulis easily handled Canada's Linda Morias, 10-2, in the battle of Olympic champion and world champion. 

Maroulis defeated Giullia RODRIGUES (BRA) and Lissette ANTES (ECU) in the next two rounds and was one win away from earning a second berth to the Olympic Games for the United States. 

In the semifinals, Maroulis crushed Nes RODRIGUEZ (PUR), 10-0, and qualified the Stars and Stripes for the Olympic Games at 57kg. 

She'll now have to win the Olympic Trials to become the United States' Olympic representative at 57kg.

Canada's Erica Wiebe was the second Olympic champion who qualified for the Olympic Games over the weekend. Wiebe, who was wrestling in her hometown of Ottawa, won the 76kg bracket and locked up her shot at repeating as Olympic champion. 

She opened up her day with a narrow 2-1 win over Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA). She tacked on dominant wins over Milaimys de la Caridad MARIN POTRILLE (CUB) and Andrimar LAZARO (VEN), setting up a semifinals match with Genesis REASCO (ECU).

Wiebe shutout Reasco Valdez, 6-0, in their semifinals meeting and earned her berth to the Olympic Games. She injury defaulted out of the gold-medal match against Aline Da Silva Ferreira and finished with a silver medal.

Wiebe won the Canadian Wrestling Trails in December and will represent Canada at 76kg at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) is one of six Cuban Greco-Roman wrestlers who will wrestle at the Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo) 

4. Cuba Sending All Six GR Wrestlers to Olympics 
Cuba’s Greco-Roman team came into the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier searching for four qualification spots after earning two Olympic berths from the Nur-Sultan World Championships from Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB). Over the weekend, they had three wrestlers win gold medals and one individual finish in second place at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier – which took their qualification total to all six weight categories. 

Their three champions were Luis Alberto ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB), Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) and Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB), while Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) finished in second place.

In addition to their Greco-Roman success, Cuba's women's wrestling team also shined in Ottawa. 

Coming into the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier, Katherine VIDIAUX (CUB) was the lone Cuban woman who ever wrestled at the Olympic Games. She'll now be joined in the history books by Lianna MONTERO (CUB) and Yusneylis GUZMAN (CUB), who won gold medals at 50kg and 53kg, respectively, and qualified for the Olympic Games. 

Greco-Roman Qualifying Weights/Athletes
60kg - Luis Alberto ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold 
67kg - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) – World Championships gold 
77kg - Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold
87kg - Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier silver
97kg - Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold
130kg - Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB) World Championships silver

5. European, World 'Last Chance' Olympic Qualifiers Postponed
The European Qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled for March 19-22 in Budapest, along with the World "Last Chance" Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, scheduled for April 30-May 3, have been postponed.

The events will be rescheduled, with the European Qualifier expected to take place in mid-May and the World "Last Chance" Qualifier held at the beginning of June.

"We are closely monitoring the governmental response to COVID-19 and will continue to provide updates to our wrestlers, coaches, and fans with more information as it becomes available," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic.

"The process for determining our Olympic participants will happen on the field of play, but we need to remain patient and vigilant as the worldwide community battles this pandemic. The health and well-being of the athletes is an absolute priority."