World Champions, Medalists Seek to Close 2015 with GGP Final Victory

By William May

BAKU (November 24) – World champions Haji ALIEV (AZE) and Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE) will seek to reprise their triumphs in September before the hometown fans as the 2015 international wrestling season draws near its conclusion with the Golden Grand Prix Final in Baku.

Aliev and Chunayev, Azerbaijan’s lone winners at the world meet in Las Vegas, will be joined in Baku Sports Hall by fellow world champs Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS) in freestyle as well as Frank STAEBLER (GER) and Zhan BELENYUK (UKR) in Greco-Roman.

The women’s events, meanwhile, will feature three winners from Las Vegas: Helen MAROULIS (USA), SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL), and Natalya VOROBIEVA (RUS), who won her first world title after winning the London 2012 Olympic Games gold medal.

Add 2014 world champions Yulia TKACH (UKR), SUKHEE Tserenchimed (MGL) and Aline FOCKEN (GER) to the mix, making the GGP Final potentially one of the most competitive women’s meet of the year.

On the eve of wrestling’s richest prize money event, 62 countries have submitted entry forms with some 370 wrestlers expected to vie for the 10,000 USD top prize for each of the categories winners.

Freestyle (Friday, November 27)

With freestyle kicking off the event, the first name that jumps off the entry lists is London 2012 gold medalist at 55kg Djamal OTARSULTANOV (RUS), who is entered at 57kg after two years at 61kg.

With world bronze medalist Viktor LEBEDEV (RUS) entered at the non-Olympic category of 61kg, could Otarsultanov be testing the waters at bantamweight for a return to Rio for 2016?

London 2012 silver medalist and the 57kg winner in Las Vegas Vladimir KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) is not on the entry list for Georgia.

Meanwhile, the most competitive category in freestyle could be a toss-up between 65kg and 74kg, even though both of the winners – Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) and Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) -- are not among the entries for Baku.

Soslan RAMONOV (RUS), the 2014 world champion at 65kg, was a bronze medal winner in Las Vegas and is entered with 2013 world bronze medalist Magomed KURBANALIEV (RUS).

[[{"fid":"5277","view_mode":"wysiwyg","type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":800,"width":1200,"style":"width: 400px; height: 267px; float: left;","class":"media-element file-wysiwyg"}}]]London 2012 champion Togrul ASGAROV (AZE), gold medal winner at the inaugural European Games in Baku in June, and two-time world bronze medalist GANZORIG Mandakhnaran (MGL), both finished in fifth place in Las Vegas and will be seeking to finish 2015 on a higher note.

At 74kg, with the winners of the last seven world titles – Burroughs and Denis TSARGUSH (RUS) – on the sidelines, Russia has entered two world champions from 70kg, Gazimagomedov (2015) and Khetik TSABOLOV (2014). They will be joined by 2015 silver medalist at 74kg PUREVJAV Unurbat (MGL) and bronze medal winner Narsingh YADAV (IND).

Meanwhile, Russia enters their current No.3 at 70kg Rasul DZUKAEV while No.2 at 86kg, Shamil KUDIYAMAGOMEDOV is ready to step in for two-time world champion Abdulrashid SADULAEV.

Women’s Wrestling (Saturday, November 28)

Japan sends a younger team as its three world champions – Eri TOSAKA (48kg), Saori YOSHIDA (53kg), and Kaori ICHO (58kg) – prepare for the Japanese national championships at the end of December.

In their place, Japan will send a squad of former junior and cadet world champions, including Youth Olympic Games champion Mayu MUKAIDA (53kg) along with junior world champs Miho IGARASHI (48kg) and Masako FURUICHI (69kg).

Sofia MATTSSON (SWE), who has three world silver medals this Olympic cycle – all to Yoshida, may be relieved not to see Yoshida’s name on the Japanese entry list. The 2009 world champion, however, must still overcome a tough field beginning with 55kg champion Maroulis, who is entered at 53kg.

Two-time world bronze medalist JONG Myong-Suk (PRK) and All-African Games winner Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) will challenge in the women’s lightweight category.

[[{"fid":"5466","view_mode":"wysiwyg","type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":800,"width":1200,"style":"width: 400px; height: 267px; float: left;","class":"media-element file-wysiwyg"}}]]Mariya STADNYK (AZE), the darling of this summer’s European Games, will also be seeking to break out from the shadow of her Japanese rivals after two silver medals and a bronze in her last three trips to the world meet. Stadnyk won a world title in 2009 along with Mattsson.

Meanwhile, Soronzonbold could face Tkach in a showdown of world champions at 63kg while Focken will hope for a rematch with Vorobieva at 69kg, after losing by fall in the world semifinals.

Also, China has entered their silver medal-winning pair of ZHOU Feng (69kg) and ZHOU Qian (75kg) while Bulgaria brings in its bronze medal trio of Evelina NIKOLOVA (55kg), Dzhanan MANOLOVA (60kg) and Taybe YUSEIN (63kg).

In addition to all the world medalists, the entry lists also show that all of the gold medal winners from the European Games will make a return trip to Baku, including Hungarian pair Emese BARKA (58kg) and Marianna SASTIN (60kg) along with 2013 world champ Alina MAKHINIA (UKR) and Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR).

Greco-Roman (Sunday, November 29)

Chunayev leads a stellar Greco-Roman line-up into the arena for the final day of GGP events, including two-time Olympic Games silver medalist Rovshan BAYRAMOV (59kg) and two-time world silver medalist Saman TAHMASEBI (85kg).

Vegas silver medalist Bayramov will be joined by 2013 world champion YUN Won-Chol (PRK) and world bronze medal winner Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ) at featherweight, while Tahmasebi will seek to improve on his bronze medal in Las Vegas against Belenyuk and silver medalist Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) at middleweight.

The most intensely competitive weight category in Greco-Roman could well be 66kg, where the last three world champions – Staebler, RYU Han-Soo (KOR) and Davor STEFANEK (SRB) -- are entered. Add to the mix European Games champion Artem SURKOV (RUS) and bronze medalist Hasan ALIYEV (AZE), who won the 2010 world title at the age of 20.

[[{"fid":"908","view_mode":"wysiwyg","type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":800,"width":1200,"style":"width: 400px; height: 267px; float: left;","class":"media-element file-wysiwyg"}}]]At 75kg, 2014 world champion at 71kg Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS) steps in for Roman VLASOV (RUS), who regained his world title in September. Labazanov will face three-time world silver medalist Mark MADSEN (DEN) and two-time bronze medal winner Andrew BISEK (USA).

The elephant in the room, however, may well be world and Olympic Games champion KIM Hyeon-Woo (KOR), who unseated Vlasov in 2013. Kim will seek to atone for an early exit from September’s world meet following a loss in the round of 16.

Turkey’s two world champions Selcuk CEBI (80kg) and Riza KAYAALP (130kg) are not on the entry list for Baku, but the three medal winners behind Cebi – Viktor SASUNOVSKI (BLR), Lasha GOBADZE (GEO) and Yousef GHADERIAN (IRI) – are entered at 80kg.

Aleksander CHERNETSKI (UKR) is the only Las Vegas medalist entered at 130kg and joins Benelyuk and bronze medal winner Dimitri TIMCHENKO (98kg) on the Ukraine entry list.


Thursday, November 26

16:00-17:00 – Medical Examination, FS all weight categories
17:15-17:45 – Weigh-in, FS all weight categories

Friday, November 27

10:00-14:00 – Elimination and Repechage Rounds, FS all weight categories
13:30-14:00 – Medical Examination, FW all weight categories
14:00-14:30 – Weigh-in, FW all weight categories
17:00-18:00 – Opening Ceremony
18:00-20:00 – Finals and Awards Ceremonies, FS all weight categories

Saturday, November 28

10:00-14:00 - Elimination and Repechage Rounds, FW all weight categories
13:00-14:00 – Medical Examination, GR all weight categories
14:00-14:30 – Weigh-in, GR all weight categories
17:00-19:00 – Finals and Awards Ceremonies, FW all weight categories

Sunday, November 29

10:00-15:00 - Elimination and Repechage Rounds, GR all weight categories
17:00-19:00 - Finals and Awards Ceremonies, GR all weight categories

Lutte gréco-romaine (Dimanche 29 novembre)

Chunayev mènera une belle équipe dans l'arène lors du dernier jour de compétition. Nous retrouverons notamment le double médaillé d'argent des Jeux Olympiques Rovshan BAYRAMOV (59kg) et le double médaillé d0argent au niveau mondial Saman TAHMASEBI (85kg).

Le médaillé d'argent de Vegas Bayramov sera rejoint par le champion du monde de 2013 YUN Won-Chol (PRK)  et par le médaillé de bronze au niveau mondial Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ). Tahmasebi tentera de faire mieux que la médaille de bronze qu'il avait remportée à Las Vegas face à Belenyuk et face au médaillé d'argent  Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB).

La catégorie de poids la plus compétitive en lutte gréco-romaine sera surement celle de 66 kg, ou nous retrouverons les trois champions du monde Staebler, RYU Han-Soo (KOR) et Davor STEFANEK (SRB). Le champion des Jeux d'Europe  Artem SURKOV (RUS)  et le médaillé de bronze Hasan ALIYEV (AZE) (qui a remporté le titre mondial en 2010 à l'âge de 20 ans) seront également présents.

A 75 kg, le champion du monde de 2014 à 71 kg Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS)  remplacera VLASOV (RUS), qui a regagné son titre mondial en septembre. Labazanov affrontera le triple médaillé d'argent Mark MADSEN (DEN ainsi que le double médaillé de bronze Andrew BISEK (USA).

Mais ce sera probablement le champion du monde et champion olympique KIM Hyeon-Woo (KOR) qui sera au centre de l'attention. Kim, qui a battu Vlasov en 2013, tentera de rattraper sa défaite rapide aux Championnats du monde de septembre. Les deux champions du monde de Turquie Selcuk CEBI (80kg) et Riza KAYAALP (130kg) ne sont pas inscrits à la compétition, mais les trois médaillés Viktor SASUNOVSKI (BLR), Lasha GOBADZE (GEO) et Yousef GHADERIAN (IRI) sont inscrits à 80 kg.

Aleksander CHERNETSKI (UKR) est le seul médaillé de Las Vegas inscrit à 130 kg, et il rejoint Benelyuk et le médaillé de bronze Dimitri TIMCHENKO (98kg)  dans l'équipe d'Ukraine.


Jeudi 26 novembre
16:00-17:00 – Examen médical, LL toutes catégories de poids
17:15-17:45 – Pesée, LL toutes catégories de poids

Vendredi 27 novembre

10:00-14:00 – Elimination et Repêchage, LL toutes catégories de poids
13:30-14:00 – Examen médical, LF toutes catégories de poids
14:00-14:30 – Pesée, LF toutes catégories de poids
17:00-18:00 – Cérémonie d'Ouverture
18:00-20:00 – Finales et remises des prix, LL toutes catégories de poids

Samedi 28 novembre

10:00-14:00 - Elimination et Repêchage, LF toutes catégories de poids
13:00-14:00 – Examen médical, GR toutes catégories de poids
14:00-14:30 – Pesée, GR toutes catégories de poids
17:00-19:00 – Finales et remises des prix, LF toutes catégories de poids

Dimanche 29 novembre

10:00-15:00 - Elimination et Repêchage, GR toutes catégories de poids
17:00-19:00 - Finales et remises des prix, GR toutes catégories de poids