Weekly FIVE!

Weekly Five! November 26, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Reviewing Sweden's trio of newly-named Olympians, and previewing the upcoming Alrosa Cup and Canadian Wrestling Trails. 

1. Three Swedish Wrestlers Olympic Spots Confirmed
Sweden confirmed that Jenny FRANSSON, Henna JOHANSSON and Alexandros KESSIDIS earned their spot on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team. Fransson and Kessidis were world silver medalists this year, and Johansson was a bronze-medal finisher. 

Fransson, this year's 68kg world runner-up, announced on her Instagram, saying, "I'm so proud that today we were officially selected to represent Sweden in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics."

The 32-year-old's confirmation on the Tokyo Olympic team means she's now a four-time Olympian. The world runner-up finished in ninth place at the Beijing and London Olympic Games before finding the podium with a bronze-medal finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

On a side note, Fransson has a career Olympic Games record of 4-5, but three of those losses came against two eventual champions and a silver medalist. Wang JIAO (CHN) and Sara DOSHO (JPN) went on to win gold medals at the 2008 and 2016 Olympic Games, respectively, while Stanka HRISTOVA (BUL) was a runner-up at the 2012 Olympics.

Henna Johansson, the 62kg women's wrestling world bronze medalist, will be making her third appearance at the Olympic Games. She;s finished in tenth place at the London and Rio Olympic Games.

Kessidis, who dropped the 77kg Greco-Roman world finals, will make his first trip to the Olympic Games next August. The 24-year-old will be Sweden's leading candidate to win their 21st Greco-Roman Olympic title, but first since Mikael LJUNGBERG's did so at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. 

Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) will wrestle this weekend at the Alrosa Cup in Moscow, Russia. This is only the fourth time the Olympic silver medalist has wrestled since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

2. Makhov Set to Compete at Alrosa Cup (November 28-30) 
Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) continues his quest to improve his Olympic silver medal on November 28 when he’ll lace up at the Alrosa Cup in Moscow, Russia. 

The Alrosa Cup will be Makhov's fourth competition since the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the second time he's competed in 2019. Most recently, Makhov returned to the mat after a 21-month hiatus at the Poland Open, where he finished in second place. 

After August's Poland Open silver-medal finish, Makhov was rumored to be one-of-two replacement candidates for the 2019 World Championships after Russia's starting heavyweight Anzor KHIZRIEV (RUS) suffered an arm injury during a training camp leading up to Nur-Sultan. Instead, Russia ultimately inserted Alan KHUGAEV, who finished in 11th place in Kazakhstan.

Earlier this year, the three-time world champion and former London Olympic bronze medalist had his medal upgraded. Makhov was awarded the silver medal after Artur TAYMAZOV (UZB) was stripped of his 2012 London Olympic gold medal by the IOC Disciplinary Commission (DC) after a reanalysis of his anti-doping test at the 2012 Olympic Games. 

Olympic Erica WIEBE
(CAN) could square off with world champion Justina Di STASIO (CAN) for a potential opportunity to wrestle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

3. Canadian Wrestling Trials Begin December 5-7
The Canadian Wrestling Team trials kick off December 5-7 in Niagara, Ontario, Canada, and Erica WIEBE and Justina Di STASIO highlight the premier weight-to-watch, 76kg. 

Wiebe, a Rio Olympic champion, is looking to become the first-ever non-Japanese women's wrestler to win a pair of Olympic titles. But to do so, she'll first have to get through 2018 world champion, Justina Di Stasio, in a best two-of-three match. That is, of course, if they both make the finals. 

Though official seeds won't be released until a few days before the competition begins, Wiebe and Di Stasio are expected to be the first and second-seeded wrestlers, respectively. If the colossal match were to happen, it'd take place Saturday night.

The pair of stars met earlier this year in the finals of Canada Cup in Calgary, where Wiebe scored the 7-5 come-from-behind win. In that June meeting, Wiebe trailed 3-2 heading into the closing period, but the Olympic champion outscored the world champion, 5-2, and secured the gold medal with the 7-5 victory. 

Other notable Canadian stars that'll be in action at the Canadian Wrestling Team Trials are Danielle LAPPAGE, Linda MORAIS, Alex TOWN and Diana WEICKER.  

Morais, who is coming off winning a world title at the non-Olympic weight of 59kg, is set to move down to 57kg, where Hannah TAYLOR and Alexandra TOWN will challenge her. Taylor is fresh off a bronze-medal finish at the U23 World Championships, while Town is a year removed from handing Canada their first-ever women's wrestling U23 world gold medal. 

Lappage and Weicker, the pair of 2018 world medalists, will also be in action in Ontario. Lappage, the 2018 world runner-up, will wrestle at 68kg, while Weicker, the Budapest bronze medalist, will wrestle at 53kg. 

The winners of the Canadian Wrestling Team Trails cement their spot on Canada's Pan-American Championship/Qualifier teams. Furthermore, they'll lock up their place on Canada's 2020 Tokyo Olympic team if they qualify Canada for the Olympic Games at the world or continental qualifier. 

Event Page
Trials Clarification

Said ABDVALI (IRI) was expected to lead Iran's team at the 2019 Greco-Roman World Cup. The tournament has since been postponed. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. Greco-Roman World Cup Postponed
In response to the current instability in Iran, the 2019 Greco-Roman World Cup, originally slated to be held next weekend in Tehran, has been postponed. 

The UWW Executive Committee held a meeting yesterday in Istanbul and assessed a variety of sources including the associated Foreign Ministries recommendations to travellers in Iran and the recent decision of other sports. It was also acknowledged by the Executive Committee that two teams had already withdrawn their participation due to the recommendations of their nations. 

"Considering its responsibility towards athletes and teams; and that the situation has not reached a satisfactory degree of stability for the holding of such an international event; and with a concern for avoiding any risk on our athletes, the Executive Committee has decided to postpone the holding of the World Cup GR until further notice," wrote United World Wrestling general secretary Micheal DUSSON, in a letter to concerned national federations.

Two-time world champion Yui SUSAKI (JPN) has to win the Emperor's Cup in order to lock up her spot on Japan's Asian Olympic qualifier team. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

5. Japan's 50kg Asian Olympic Qualifier Spot to be Determined at Emperor's Cup
Shortly after winning her second consecutive senior world title a season ago in Budapest, Yui SUSAKI (JPN) was looked at by many as one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the world. Through her first two senior World Championships, Susaki was a perfect 9-0 and scored an impressive seven technical superiority victories and a fall en route to her pair of world titles. 

But the seven-time world champion (three cadet, two junior and two senior) was dealt a stunning loss to Yuki IRIE (JPN) and failed to make Japan's Nur-Sultan world team. Susaki was in danger of missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, but her rival Irie dropped her quarterfinals match in Nur-Sultan to SUN Yanan (CHN), who ended up falling to eventual champion Mariya STADNIK (AZE) in the semifinals, and left the door wide open for Susaki to return to Japan's lineup prior to the Olympic Games. 

Japan's focus at 50kg moves to December 19-22 Emperor's Cup. The winner of the 50kg weight class, which will feature Irie, Susaki and Rio Olympic champion Erie TOSAKA (JPN), will travel to Xi'an, China, to try to secure Japan's spot at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 
1. Big Move Monday -- Euren J. (SWE) -- Greco-Roman World Cup 2015
2. Wrestle Like A Girl 🤼‍♀️ #uww #unitedworldwrestling#wrestlelikeagirl
3. Rashidov Wins Long-Awaited World Title
4. Akgul, Burroughs, Sadulaev and Yazdani are among the freestyle superstars who already have an Olympic title on their resume. Which medalist do you think will medal at the #Tokyo2020 Olympic Games?
5. On the Line: Match Winners

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."