Who’s In? Greco-Roman Olympic Qualifiers for #Tokyo2020NE
Monday, April 20, 2020 - 12:26 By Andrew Hipps
Cuba’s dominant Greco-Roman program is headed to Tokyo as four qualification events are left with a total of eight licenses in six weight categories remain up for grabs.
CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (April 20) -- In response to the IOC’s decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games until the summer of 2021, United World Wrestling has announced that all Olympic qualification spots already earned will continue to be honored.
For the nations whose wrestlers qualified at the World Championships or Pan Am Qualifiers that means they are done, but for those who haven’t qualified in each weight category there will be events in March and April of 2021 to determine the remaining eight spots in each category.
We’ve broken down “Who’s In,” and which stars still need to qualify.
While seven nations have qualified two wrestlers and a dozen more have qualified one wrestler, the nation-by-nation leaderboard is dominated by Cuba. The small Caribbean island nation has qualified all six Olympic weight categories, a sign that the nation might repeat the unofficial team championship it won at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
Cuba will once again be led by Olympic champion Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (67kg) and three-time Olympic champion Mijain LOPEZ (130kg), but look for Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and Iran to all make gains during their respective continental qualification tournaments.
The United States has qualified four weight categories, with all coming at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier this March in Ottawa: 60kg, 67kg, 87kg and 97kg.
American Adam COON captured a world silver medal at 130kg in 2018, but the United States still has yet to qualify there or 77kg.
Reigning world champion Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) not only has punched his nation’s ticket to their own Games, but has secured the No.1 seed. Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Ukraine and Uzbekistan also locked up Olympic licenses in Nur-Sultan.
China will be looking to qualify this weight category for the Olympics at the Asian Olympic Qualifier with either Sailike WALIHAN or Erbatu TUO. Walihan won gold at the Matteo Pellicone.
Another top wrestler still looking to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics is Kerem KAMAL (TUR), who is currently ranked No.3 in the world. After failing to reach a medal match at the 2019 World Championships, Kamal finished fifth at the Matteo Pellicone before capturing a silver medal at the European Championships.
Luis ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB) and Ildar HAFIZOV (USA) qualified their nations in this weight category at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier.
Borrero, an Olympic gold medalist in Rio, secured Cuba's spot at 67kg for the Tokyo Olympics by winning a world title in Nur-Sultan last September.
In a shock, two-time world champion Hansu RYU (KOR) failed to qualify at the World Championships after he was defeated by Borrero in the quarterfinals before losing to three-time world champion Frank STAEBLER (GER) in repechage. Ryu will have an opportunity to earn his spot in Tokyo at the Asian Olympic Qualifier or World Olympic "Last Chance" Qualifier.
Another world champion still looking to secure a spot in Tokyo at 67kg is Olympic silver medalist Shinobu OTA (JPN). Ota won the 2019 world title at the non-Olympic weight class of 60kg, but will move up to 67kg for his Olympic run.
Perhaps the biggest storyline in Greco-Roman heading into the final Olympic qualifiers is powerhouse Russia not yet qualifying at 77kg. Two-time Olympic champion Roman VLASOV was upset in the round of 16 at the 2019 World Championships and failed to earn a spot in a medal match.
Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) qualified Iran at 77kg by winning a bronze medal in Nur-Sultan. Cuba and Mexico earned qualification spots at this weight category with Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) and Jose VARGAS RUEDA (MEX) winning gold and silver respectively in Ottawa.
Olympic silver medalist Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) captured his second world title in Nur-Sultan, beating three-time world medalist Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) in the finals. The two have since flip-flopped in the world rankings, with Lorincz taking over the No.1 ranking.
Germany, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan all qualified for the Olympics in Nur-Sultan.
World No.4 Kumar SUNIL (IND) will be looking to qualify at the Asian Olympic Qualifier. He started the year ranked 33rd in the world but climbed 29 spots by winning gold at the Asian Championships and silver at the Matteo Pellicone.
Multiple-time world champion Musa EVLOEV (RUS) and Olympic gold medalist Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) finished first and second respectively at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan. The duo have created one of the best rivalries in the sport, which fans expect to extend to Tokyo in 2021.
Cenk ILDEM (TUR) has also qualified the weight and will be looking for his second Olympic medal. The Turkish youth qualified for Tokyo by earning a bronze medal at the World Championships.
World No.4 Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI), a 2018 junior world champion, won the Asian Championships this year and will be among the favorites to qualify for the Tokyo Games at the Asian Olympic Qualifier.
This year’s European silver medalist Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA), currently ranked No.5 in the world, will attempt to punch his nation’s ticket at the European Olympic qualifier. Another wrestler to keep an eye on at the European Olympic Qualifier is Mélonin NOUMONVI (FRA). The 2014 world champion will be chasing his French-record fourth Olympic appearance.
Four-time world champion Riza KAYAALP (TUR) is the reigning world champion and entering the Tokyo 2021 Games as the top seed. But his path to gold will be Olympic gold will be difficult since Oscar PINO HINDS qualified Cuba for the Olympics at 130kg by winning a silver medal at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan. However, it’ll be three-time Olympic champion Mijain LOPEZ (CUB) competing next summer in Tokyo.
Heiki NABI (EST) will be looking to win his second Olympic medal after winning a silver at the London Olympics in 2012. The 34-year-old Estonian qualified for Tokyo by winning a bronze medal in Nur-Sultan. Georgia, Iran and Germany also secured 130kg Olympic licenses at the World Championships.
Ahmed MOHAMED (EGY) has had a strong year, climbing to No.3 in the world. He will attempt to qualify Egypt for the Olympics at the African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier. World No.4 Muminjon ABDULLAEV (UZB) earned a bronze medal at the Matteo Pellicone and will look to earn an Olympic license at the Asian Olympic Qualifier.