Weekly FIVE! March 10, 2020
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 13:43 By Eric Olanowski
Discussing the list of Olympic champions entered into the Tokyo Olympic qualification events and Greco-Roman world runner-up Pino HInds winning freestyle bronze at the Pan-Am C'ships. Also looking at Japan's special wrestle-offs for the Olympic spot.
1. Aliyev and "King Vlad" Entered into European Qualifier at 65kg
Lightweight superstars Haji ALIYEV (AZE) and Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) entered the European Olympic Qualifier in Budapest, Hungary (March 19 – 22), with hopes of qualifying Azerbaijan and Georgia for the Olympic Games at 65kg.
The pair of past world champions and Rio Olympic medalists suffered uncharacteristic early-round losses at the Nur-Sultan World Championships and missed out on qualifying their nations for the Olympic Games.
Aliyev, a three-time world champion, failed to qualify Azerbaijan for the Olympics at 65kg. The Rio Olympic bronze medalist dropped his opening round match at the World Championships to eventual world champion Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (RUS). Aliyev scored a 10-1 win over Reda HUSSEN (EGY) in his first repechage match but fell to 2018 world champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) in a heartbreaking 11-9 match. He was knocked out of the tournament after his second loss and finished in 12th place.
Khinchegashvili, a Rio Olympic champion and London silver medalist, also failed to qualify his nation for the Toyko Olympic Games. The Georgian opened up his 2019 World Championships campaign with a 4-0 win over YUN Junsik (KOR), but lost 5-1 in his next match to eventual bronze medalist Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (HUN). The Hungarian dropped a 3-2 nail biter against Rashidov -- knocking Khinchegashvili out of the tournament with a 22nd-place finish.
If either fails to make the finals in Budapest, their last opportunity will be the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria (April 30 – May 03).
Qualified Nation – Qualifying Wrestler
RUS via Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (Europe)
KAZ via Daulet NIYAZBEKOV (Asia)
IND via Bajrang BAJRANG (Asia)
HUN via Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (Europe)
JPN via Takuto OTOGURO (Asia)
MGL via Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (Asia)
2. Olympic Champs Maroulis and Wiebe Entered into Pan-American Qualifier
The road for Helen MAROULIS (USA) and Erica WIEBE (CAN) to repeat as Olympic champions runs through this week's Pan-American Qualifiers in Ottawa, Canada.
The pair needed the post-world championship qualifiers in 2016 to earn berths to the Olympics and find themselves in eerily similar situations heading into the Tokyo Olympic Games. In 2016, Maroulis qualified for the Olympics with a gold-medal performance at the 1st OG World Qualifying Tournament, while Wiebe punched her ticket to Rio after winning the 2016 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier.
They'll compete at this week's Pan-American Qualifiers to try to qualify their nations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which will kick start their journey to try to become the first non-Japanese wrestlers to win a pair of Olympic titles.
Since women's wrestling inception into the Olympic Games in 2004, Japan has claimed 11 of the 18 Olympic gold medals. But, of the seven non-Japanese women whose resume boasts an Olympic gold, surprisingly enough, there's never been a non-Japanese two-time Olympic champion.
Maroulis, America's first women's wrestling Olympic champion, returns to USA's lineup for the first time since falling to a 21st-place finish at the 2018 World Championships. She's faced difficulties with concussions over the last two seasons but locked up her spot on the Pan-American Qualifier team with two straight pins against Nur-Sultan world team member, Jenna BURKERT (USA).
She's wrestling at arguably the deepest weight in the world, 57kg, and is joined by reigning 59kg world champion Linda MORAIS (CAN) and 2019 Pan-American champion Lissette ANTES (ECU).
Wiebe enters the Pan-American Championships as the favorite to the 76kg weight category. Especially with the absence of her archrival Adeline GRAY (USA), who qualified the United States for the Tokyo Olympics with her American history-breaking fifth world title. Her biggest threat at 76kg is Genesis REASCO (ECU), who was last year's Pan-American runner-up.
3. Greco-Roman World Silver Medalist Pino Hines Captures Pan-Am Freestyle Bronze
Cuban big man Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB), fresh off his Greco-Roman runner-up finish at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, shifted to freestyle and captured the 125kg bronze medal at the Pan-American Championships.
Pino Hinds transitioned to freestyle after he took a backseat to Mijain LOPEZ (CUB), who is looking to become the first male wrestler ever to win four Olympic titles.
In his 2020 freestyle debut, Pino Hinds went 2-2 and scored wins over Charles MERRILL (PUR) and Brandon ANGUIANO (MEX) en route to his bronze-medal finish. His losses came against Anthony Robert NELSON (USA) and Amarveer DHESI (CAN), who finished in first and second, respectively, at 125kg.
Pino Hinds refocused his attention on joining Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) as the only wrestlers since 2015 to qualify their nations for the Olympic Games in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. Although he fell in the finals at the World Championships, Pino Hinds qualified Cuba for the Tokyo Olympic Games at 130kg in Greco-Roman.
Hinds is wrestling freestyle again at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier, which kicks off on Friday.
His toughest competition at the Pan-American OG Qualifier is the two-time world bronze medalist, Nicholas Edward GWIAZDOWSKI (USA). The pair met twice last year, with Gwiazdowski scoring a pair of technical superiority victories.
Pino Hinds led 1-1 on criteria in the second period but gave up two takedowns and four leg laces before ultimately finishing the tournament with a bronze medal. He also fell 10-0 in the Pan-American Games finals.
4. Russia Inserts Bukina into European Qualifier over Olympic Champ Vorobeva
The biggest question after the European Championships wrapped up: Who will Russia roll with at 76kg heading into the European Olympic Qualifier?
The Russian coaching staff had the insanely tough decision on whether to insert reigning European champion Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) or replace her with the reigning 72kg world and European champion, Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS).
Ultimately, they elected to place the ball in Bukina's hand to earn Russia their berth to the Olympics at 76kg.
Bukina is coming off a successful European championship campaign where she went 5-0 and captured the 76kg gold medal. In Rome, she defeated 2017 world silver medalist Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR) in the semifinals, then downed 2017 world champion Yasemin ADAR (TUR) in the finals.
After winning her first continental title, Bukina, a Rio Olympic bronze medalist, was asked where she sees herself in the race to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. She said, "It depends on who will be in better shape. Right now, she is wrestling in the other weight category, but we will decide later when it's closer to the Olympics. It's too early to talk about it."
Vorobeva also won gold at the European Championships, but she did so at the non-Olympic weight of 72kg. When she was asked about the log jam between herself and Bukina at 76kg, she said, "I gave Bukina this place, and it's good for her that she used her chance. But if there is a need for me to wrestle at 76kg, we'll both go on the mat, wrestle and see who the best is."
It's not clear what Russia will do if Bukina qualifies her nation for the Olympics, but it seems like a special wrestle-off is almost certain.
5. Dosho Earns Shot at Olympic Repeat With Win in Japan Team Playoff
Having stuck it out through trying times since her triumph in Rio four years ago, Sara DOSHO (JPN) finally assured that she will be able to defend her Olympic crown at this summer's Tokyo Games.
Dosho edged world junior champion Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN) 3-1 in a special playoff to fill the Olympic spot at 68kg that she herself secured for Japan by placing fifth at last year's World Championships in Nur-Sultan. Morikawa had forced the playoff by winning the All-Japan title last December, where she defeated Dosho 9-2 in the semifinals.
"I had a lot of injuries, but I was able to come back and be here today," Dosho said. "I want to be completely healthy for the Tokyo Olympics and wrestling at a high level. From the time I won in Rio, my aim was to win again in Tokyo. That has not changed. I'll do what I can to make that happen."
Meanwhile, Keisuke OTOGURO (JPN) will join younger brother Takuto on Japan's team at Tokyo 2020 after he chalked up a 5-2 victory over Mao OKUI (JPN) at freestyle 74kg in the other playoff held behind closed doors at the National Training Center in Tokyo. Okui had earned Japan's spot by finishing fifth at Nur-Sultan.
Weekly FIVE! In Social Media
1. Big Move Monday -- Grace BULLEN
2. Happy International Women’s Day!
3. 🖐 points for 5x World champ @adelinegray
4. Olympic Champion Vorobeva’s New Title: Mother!
5. Outrageous first-round action at the Greco-Roman Pan Am Championships!