#WrestleBudapest: Ana ends Romania's WW title drought at European Championships

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (March 31) -- Not many can say that winning the U23 World Championships was the start of something special for them. It may be the pinnacle of their career. But for Andreea ANA (ROU), winning the gold in Belgrade last year was the break she wanted.

Four months after becoming Romania's first-ever woman to win gold at World Championships, the 22-year-old has become her nation's first-ever senior European champion in women's wrestling. Add to that the maiden U23 European gold she won two weeks ago in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Romania has had nine finalists over the years at the senior Euros but none had crossed the final hurdle. But Ana defeated Ukraine's young superstar Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR), 7-5 in the 55kg with a thrilling buzzer-beating four-pointer.

"I think the gold in Belgrade helped me break the mental block I had in finals. That is why I had a lot of bronze and silver medals," Ana had said in Plovdiv.


Perhaps that helped her remain calm even when she was trailing by two points with just 11 seconds. Ana and Khomenets matched each move-for-move and it was only an inactivity point that separated the two. Ana led 1-0 at the break but soon increased the pace of the bout and scored a takedown 33 seconds into the second period.

Khomenetes also matched that and 39 seconds later and scored two takedowns inside 30 seconds to lead 4-3. She added a step-out and had a 5-3 lead with just 11 seconds remaining.

When it looked all over, Ana managed to blast a double-leg and score four points and end Romania's wait for a gold medal in women's wrestling at the senior event.

"I am feeling good and proud of myself," Ana said. "I have a lot of emotions and sensations and I am happy that it ended like this. I know she [Khomenets] is strong but my technique was better to win."

Ana, who competes in a non-Olympic weight class of 55kg, had been to Tokyo Olympics at 53kg but failed to win a medal. She is now training to win a medal in Paris but has to decide which Olympic weight class to go -- 53kg or 57kg.

"I have to decide which weight class to move. I am not sure yet," she said.

Evin DEMIRHANEvin DEMIRHAN (TUR) won her first senior European title. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Turkey won its third-ever gold medal at the European Championships when Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR) pinned defending champion Miglena SELISHKA (BUL) in just a minute and 55 seconds. 

The 26-year-old was caught off guard when Selishka went for a takedown at the beginning but in the same sequence, Demirhan overturned it and scored two for herself.

The former U23 world champion from Turkey continued to put pressure on Selishka and ultimately managed to keep the Bulgarian to her back and get the fall.

"I am very happy to win gold," Demirhan said. "This was the first time I wrestled my opponent [Selishka] and I can't believe it."

Demirhan's coming-of-age performance was a testimony of how the 50kg wrestler has grown since winning the gold at the U23 Worlds five years ago.

In her semifinal, she defeated two-time Olympian and world silver medalist Amilia VUC (ROU) who she had lost to in the '18 European semifinal. Selishka had defeated Demirhan at the Yasar Dogu in the 2020 final and the Olympic qualification tournament in 2021.

"I beat all the opponents that I lost to in the past and this is my first gold at the senior level so I am very happy," she said.

Yasemin ADARYasemin ADAR (TUR) is now a five-time senior European champion. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

The day got better for Turkey when Yasemin ADAR (TUR) added a fifth gold medal to her collection of European gold medals after defeating long-time rival Epp MAE (EST) in the final. In a slow-paced final at 76kg, Adar was called passive first and Mae led 1-0 at the break. But Adar led 1-1 on criteria in the second period for Mae's passivity.

Wrestling after eight months, Adar, who won Turkey's first-ever medal in women's wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics, then defended all of Maee's attacks for the final minute. Mae's desperate attacks resulted in a counter from Adar and gave the Turkey wrestler two points.

"It's after two years I am wrestling at the Europeans and the first time since the Olympics," Adar said. "I was not in Warsaw. I am very happy to win five Euros."

The 3-1 win helped Adar maintain her perfect record over Mae. Adar has defeated the '21 World silver medalist in her previous three meetings, two of them coming at the continental level.

"I always tell the young girls on the team that follow your dreams," she said. "All five medals are the same. Only a gold medal can run with the flag on the mat and that's very important for me."

Anastasia NICHITAAnastasia NICHITA (MDA) defeated Jowita WRZESIEN (POL) twice in Budapest to win gold. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Moldova's golden pair wins again

Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) and Irina RIGACI (MDA) became two-time senior European champions as they dominated their respective final at 59kg and 68kg respectively. Just two weeks ago, the two had captured gold medals at the U23 European Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria as well.

In a bracket with only seven wrestlers, Nichita outscored her opponents 26-3 with two wins over Jowita WRZESIEN (POL). After beating the Poland wrestler in the opening round 4-2, Nichita repeated that performance in the final winning 4-1.

Wrzesien scored the opening takedown but Nichita answered with a takedown and led 2-1. The Poland World bronze medalist kept the former U23 world champion quiet for the first four minutes but then she switched levels in the final two minutes to win.

Irina RINGACIIrina RINGACI (MDA) won her second senior European title. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Ringaci was more dominant in the final against Pauline LECARPENTIER (FRA) as hit a whizzer and then added three takedowns to win 10-0 in four minutes.

"One more gold medal in my collection," Ringaci said. "My opponents were well-prepared but my wrestling had proved who is the best."

Since moving to the Olympic weight class of 68kg, the junior and senior world champ has consistently improved.

"The Olympics are coming so I have to move up to 68kg and be ready to wrestle in this category," she said. "I am happy I’ve won as it was one of my dreams to become a senior European champion."

But there is scope for improvement as she was almost out of the final after trailing 9-1 against Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE). But she scored 12 unanswered points in the second period and ultimately got the pin.

"In the first period when the score was 7-1, I knew I had to attack to score the points, but when the score was 9-1 I was still ready to wrestle till the end," she said.

Greco-Roman begins Friday at the European Championships with five weight classes.


WW semifinal


SF 1: Emma MALMGREN (SWE) df Katarzyna KRAWCZYK (POL), via fall
SF 2: Maria PREVOLARAKI (GRE) df Zeynep YETGIL (TUR), via fall


SF 2: Evelina NIKOLOVA (BUL) df Elvira KAMALOGLU (TUR), via fall


SF 1: Taybe YUSEIN (BUL) df Natalia KUBATY (POL), 10-0


SF 1: Elis MANOLOVA (AZE) df Kriszta INCZE (ROU), 2-1
SF 2: Tetiana RIZHKO (UKR) df Sofiya GEORGIEVA (BUL), via fall


SF 1: Anna SCHELL (GER) df Kendra DACHER (FRA), 9-4
SF 2: Buse TOSUN (TUR) df Alexandra ANGHEL (ROU), 7-1

WW Medal Results

GOLD: Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR) df Miglena SELISHKA (BUL), via fall

BRONZE: Emilia VUC (ROU) df Lisa ERSEL (GER), via fall

GOLD: Andreea ANA (ROU) df Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR), 7-5

BRONZE: Bediha GUN (TUR) df Nova BERGMAN (SWE), 5-4
BRONZE: Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA) df Anastasia BLAYVAS (GER), via fall

Final: Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) df Jowita WRZESIEN (POL), 4-1
Bronze: Elena BRUGGER (GER) df Alyona KOLESNIK (AZE), 9-0

Final standing:



GOLD: Yasemin ADAR (TUR) df Epp MAEE (EST), 3-1

BRONZE: Enrica RINALDI (ITA) df Catalina AXENTE (ROU), 4-4 
BRONZE: Bernadett NAGY (HUN) df Mariya ORYASHKOVA (BUL), 8-2


WATCH: 10 Greco-Roman Finals from European Championships

By Vinay Siwach

BUDAPEST, Hungary (April 7) -- The European Championships saw 10 Greco-Roman champions being crowned. One of them, Riza KAYAALP (TUR), won his 11th European title and is now two away from breaking the all-time record 12.

Azerbaijan won the team title over Turkey while Georgia finished third in the title race. Azerbaijan had all ten wrestlers in medal bouts with eight coming home with at least a medal. Only two wrestlers failed to win a medal in Budapest.

Watch all the 10 gold medal bouts from the European Championships.

55kg GOLD - Eldaniz Azizli (AZE) vs Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO)

Azizli wrestled his rival and world champion from 2019 Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO). Prior to this meeting, the two had wrestled each other four times with Azizli enjoying a perfect 4-0 record over Tsurtsumia. He extended that record to 5-0 when he won 8-2 in the 55kg final.

Azizli got the point for his opponent's passivity and a roll gave him a 3-1 lead. Tsurtsumia tried exposing with a head pinch but in turn, ended up giving two points. In the same action, Azizli scored two more and led 7-1 with two minutes remaining before closing out the bout 8-2.


60kg GOLD - Kerem Kamal (TUR) vs Edmond Nazaryan (BUL)

Kerem KAMAL (TUR) was third time lucky in the final as he won the gold after previously losing two finals in 2020 and 2021. But in his third final in three years, he defeated former European champ Edmond NAZARYAN (BUL) 5-0 to win at 60kg.


63kg GOLD - Leri Abuladze (GEO) vs Taleh Mammadov (AZE)

Georgia did have a gold medalist Saturday as U23 World champion Leri Abuladze (GEO) added a European title to his resume. He wrestled Taleh Mammadov (AZE) in the 63kg final and controlled it well. His one scoring action in par terre in the second period was enough to give him a 3-1 win over Mammadov, his first in two meetings.


67kg GOLD - Murat Firat (TUR) vs Krisztian Vancza (HUN)

Murat FIRAT (TUR) denied Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) a gold medal at home. In the close final, Firat used an exposure close to the zone to win 3-1. Vancza had his chance to take the lead when Firat was called passive but he did not manage to score any points from par terre in the second period.


72kg GOLD - Robert Attila Fritsch (HUN) vs Shmagi Bolkvadze (GEO)

Robert FRITSCH (HUN) upset Rio bronze medalist Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO), 3-2, at the 72kg final. In one of the closest bouts of the tournament, Bolkvadze led 1-0 at the break for a passivity point. But Fritsch bounced back with a gut wrench from par terre to lead 3-1. A reversal point for Bolkvadze but his lead to 3-2 but he managed to hang on for the win.


77kg GOLD - Malkhas Amoyan (ARM) vs Yunus Emre Basar (TUR)

Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) won the 77kg European title. The world champion at 72kg was making his debut at 77kg and wrestled Yunus Basar (TUR) in the final. He was called passive and gave up a gut wrench to trail 3-0 at the break. But he got the same action using a chest wrap in the second period to lead 3-3 on criteria.

Turkey challenged the call asking for a leg foul but the judges found no negative wrestling which gave another point to Amoyan, extending his lead 4-3 with two minutes remaining.

The silver medalist from Warsaw European Championships was again called passive but this time Basar could not get any exposure from par terre as Amoyan let out a loud scream to celebrate his maiden gold at the continental championships.


82kg GOLD - Rafig Huseynov (AZE) vs Gela Bolkvadze (GEO)

In a historic feat, Rafiq HUSEYNOV (AZE) became the first-ever Azerbaijan wrestler to win three European titles. Wrestling Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO) in the 82kg final, Huseynov gave up a point for passivity but defended the par terre position. Georgia asked for a challenge for Huseynov's fleeing but lost it. Huseynov got the second point from Bolkvadze's passivity and kept the 2-1 lead to win the gold.


87kg GOLD - Turpan BISULTANOV (DEN) vs Nicu OJOG (ROU)

Bisultanov won the gold for Denmark at the European championship, outscoring his opponents 35-0 over two days and with his crowd-pleasing style became a fan favorite in Budapest. Wrestling Nicu Ojog (ROU) in the 87kg final, Bisultanov took only one minute and 13 seconds to finish the bout 8-0. In his four bouts, he did not wrestle the full six minutes in any, spending just over 13 minutes on the mat.


97kg GOLD - Kiril MILOV (BUL) vs Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN)

Kiril MILOV (BUL) upgraded from his silver in 2019. With fond memories of Budapest, he changed the color of his medal with an error-less performance in the final against Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN), 4-1. Milov got the match-deciding gut wrench in the second period to defeat the former U23 world champion Savolainen who won the title in Budapest three years ago.


130kg GOLD - Riza KAYAALP (TUR) vs Danila SOTNIKOV (ITA)

Riza Kayaalp (TUR) is on a mission to break Alexander Karelin (RWF) record of 12 European gold medals. He took another step closer to that by winning his 11th gold in Budapest. The four-time world champion defeated Danila Sotnikov (ITA), 4-0 in the 130kg final using a head-pinch exposure when the Italian was trying to push him out.