#WrestleOslo Day Three Preview: FS 70kg, 97kg; WW 55kg, 62kg

By Ken Marantz

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (September 20) -- After winning a second Olympic gold medal last month in Japan, the Russian Wrestling Federation's superstar Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) was asked by local media about making a possible move to Mixed Martial Arts for a lucractive test of his talents.

Scoffing at making a switch to rough-and-tumble MMA, he told Sport Yakutia, "I don't even have such thoughts. I still need a head."

Sadulaev has been head and shoulders above the competition in the sufficiently demanding and more graceful sport of wrestling since striking Olympic gold for the first time at age 20 at the 2016 Rio Games -- save for one lapse in 2017, for which he more than made amends.

The wrestler dubbed "The Russian Tank" will be aiming for a fifth straight world title as the favorite when the freestyle 97kg class gets underway in Oslo on Oct. 4, with another high-profile clash with rival Kyle SNYDER (USA) potentially in the cards.

In other weight classes, Olympic silver medalist Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) will launch an attempt to repeat her historic triumph from the 2019 worlds at women's 62kg, while the non-Olympic divisions of freestyle 70kg and women's 55kg also get underway.

The titanic clashes between Sadulaev and Snyder have been dubbed "Snyderlaev," and the third edition that played out on the Makuhari Messe mat at the Tokyo Olympics saw the Russian -- representing the Russian Wrestling Federation -- come away with a 6-3 victory and the gold.

The two, born just six months apart, followed up world titles in 2015 with Olympic golds at Rio 2016 at different weight classes. But Sadulaev then moved up from 86kg to 97kg to create the rivalry for the ages.

In their first meeting, in the final at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, Snyder won a 6-5 thriller. But Sadulaev got his revenge the following year in Budapest, winning the world gold with an unorthodox fall.

A potential third meeting at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan never came about after Snyder lost in the semifinals to 2012 London Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), whom Sadulaev then defeated for his fourth world title.

In the final at Tokyo, Sadulaev was hampered by a lingering leg injury and was forced to play a defensive game. But he scored a pair of 2-point counters off Snyder's takedown attempts which put him over the top.

"There are definitely some positions that I have got to get better in," Snyder said after the match. "That is what I'm thinking about. I have got to finish those attacks."

In Sadulaev's Sport Yakutia interview, it was pointed out that should he win all three world titles in the Olympic cycle, then take the gold at Paris 2024, he would tie the freestyle record of legendary Soviet star Alexander Medved with a combined 10 world and Olympic titles.

"We will work," Sadulaev said. "If my health allows, I will try not to miss the World Championships, I will fight everywhere, and I will do what is depended of me."

With Sharifov not making the trip to Oslo, it looks like a two-man race to the gold. But there are a handful of opponents capable of pulling a surprise and be in the battle to make the medal podium.

Leading the best-of-the-rest is Cuban-born Abraham CONYEDO (ITA), one of the bronze medalists at the Tokyo Olympics, where he lost 6-0 to Snyder in the quarterfinals. He also finished third at the 2020 European Championships and 2018 World Championships.

Russian-born Albert SARITOV (ROU), a Rio 2016 bronze medalist at 86kg, lost in the first round in Tokyo to Conyedo and will be aiming to make it farther in the competition in Oslo. The 36-year-old was the 2020 European silver medalist.

Four other quarterfinalists in Tokyo look to be among the mix -- Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), a 2021 European and 2018 world bronze medalist; 2019 world bronze medalist Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD); 2021 Asian silver medalist Alisher YERGALI (KAZ); and 2021 European silver medalist Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR).

Not to be discounted is 2020 Asian champion Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI), the 2019 world U23 champion.

In the women's 62kg class, defending champion Tynybekova will not have to contend with her main nemesis, Yukako KAWAI (JPN), who pipped her for the gold in Tokyo to avenge a third-round loss at the 2019 worlds. Kawai, like all of Japan's Olympians, is not entered this year.

Tynybekova made history with her triumph in Nur-Sultan, as it made her Kyrgyzstan's first-ever wrestling world champion, male or female, since it became independent in 1991.

She and Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ), a bronze medalist at 68kg, became the first Kyrgyz women to win Olympic medals, but Tynybekova was left devastated by falling short of her goal of becoming the country's first gold medalist in any sport.

"I could not accept the silver, and I could not hold back the tears," Tynybekova said in an interview with local media. "I did not sleep until dawn that day."

But while the 28-year-old was harsh on herself, her country was more than forgiving. She was treated to a hero's welcome upon her return, which greatly boosted her spirits, and not just from the 10 million som ($118,000) bonus and new Toyota car she was awarded from the state. She received something far more valuable.

Tynybekova had shut down her Facebook and Instagram accounts to focus on the Olympics, and when she restored them after the Games, she was overwhelmed by the flood of support.

"I was glad to see that every corner of Kyrgyzstan, every village, town and district is united," she said. "I wore this silver medal around my neck, held it in my hands, looked at it and didn't even take pictures.

"After the support of the Kyrgyz people, I felt differently and accepted the silver medal with a different love. That feeling was aroused by the support of my people. I learned that it is more valuable than gold."

Still, gold will be what she is after in Oslo, but Tynybekova cannot take the competition lightly. Even with the top Japanese missing, Tynybekova and the others should count on a dangerous alternate taking her place.

In Oslo, that will be 18-year-old Nonoka OZAKI (JPN), the 2019 world cadet champion who will be making her international senior debut. Ozaki earned the ticket to Norway by winning both of the top senior national tournaments, which, it should be noted, were missing Kawai.

Ozaki, the 2018 world cadet and Youth Olympics gold medalist at 57kg, is a highly touted product of the JOC Elite Academy, which produced Tokyo Olympic gold medalists Yui SUSAKI (JPN), Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) and Takuto OTOGURO (JPN). It will be interesting to see how she holds up under the boiler-pressure of the top global tournament.

Another rising star also making her international senior debut will be recently crowned world junior champion Alina KASABIEVA (RWF). She also won the European junior title this year, and was a 2019 world cadet bronze medalist at 57kg.

Neither of the Tokyo bronze medalists were among the preliminary entries, but other ones to watch are 2019 world junior bronze medalist Ana GODINEZ GONZALEZ (CAN) and 2020 Asian silver medalist Ayaulym KASSYMOVA (KAZ).

Jenna Rose BURKERT (USA) will represent the United States at 55kg. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

At women's 55kg, reigning champion Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) won't be around to defend her title after losing at the U.S. trials to Jenna BURKERT (USA), who is aiming to secure her first hardware in her fourth trip to the World Championships.

Burkert, a bronze medalist at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone tournament, won just one match in her three previous appearances at the worlds in weight classes ranging from 57kg to 60kg. She said she's ready to make a better showing this time after dropping to her lightest weight class since winning the Pan Am cadet title at 52kg -- back in 2008.

"You are only as good as your next match," Burkert said by email. "That’s how I always train. I don’t allow my ego to get caught up in how I’ve previously performed. I’m constantly pushing myself to make sure I’m putting in the work my body is capable of. I feel great both physically and mentally -- this new weight class really suits me in my opinion."

Burkert said the victory over Winchester, in which she won two matches to one in the best-of-3 format, with every match decided by one point, has given her a boost of confidence.

"I’m still working to be the best in the world," she said. "Beating the reigning world champ was the step I needed to get on the world team, and now it’s about getting after it on October 4 & 5th."

Nanami IRIE (JPN), the 2019 silver medalist, dropped down to 53kg but failed to make the Japan team, and the spot at 55kg was filled by Tsugumi SAKURAI (JPN), the 2020 Klippan Lady gold medalist and 2016 world cadet champion.

Two entries who competed at the Tokyo Olympics at 53kg who can be expected to make waves in Oslo are 2019 world bronze medalist Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RWF) and Roksana ZASINA (POL), a 2017 world bronze medalist at 53kg.

Khoroshavtseva is coming off a victory at 53kg at the European Championships in June, giving her a second straight continental title after winning at 55kg last year.

Zasina, who lost in the quarterfinals in Tokyo to eventual champion Mukaida, won her fourth European medal this year when she took the silver, and was the silver medalist at 53kg at the Individual World Cup in 2020.

Asian hopes will also be on Poland Open silver medalist Sumiya ERDENECHIMEG (MGL), Asian bronze medalist Aisha UALISHAN (KAZ) and 2020 Asian champion Pinki PINKI (IND).

Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL), the two-time world medal winner, will move up to 70kg from his Tokyo Olympic weight of 65kg. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

At freestyle 70kg, Russian-born Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) looks to be the one to beat, with two-time world medalist James GREEN (USA), European champion Israil KASUMOV (RWF) and veteran Adam BATIROV (BRN) also well in contention.

The 33-year-old Gadzhiev, a 2019 world bronze medalist, finished seventh at 65kg at the Tokyo Olympics. In 2020, he won his second European gold and fifth medal overall, and also triumphed at the Individual World Cup.

Green is dead set on making it to the top of the podium after taking a silver at the 2017 world championships and bronze in 2015.

"I think about this a lot!" he said in an email. "It’s been a long time since I’ve been on top of any international podium. Silver and bronze seem to be the only medals that I get my hands on. That hasn’t stopped me from staying on the path for gold."

Not being on the U.S. Olympic team only adds incentive for a victory in Oslo.

"Not having an opportunity to go to the Olympics makes this world championships a redemption, not only for myself but the other non-Olympic weights," Green said. "I’m hungry for gold and I will end the drought this year.


#WrestleOslo Top Historical Moments: Sadulaev, Geraei Double Up; Moldova Claims Firsts

By Vinay Siwach

OSLO, Norway (October 19) -- After the World Championships in Oslo, an uncharacteristic number of wrestlers etched their names in wrestling's history books. 

For the first time in wrestling's tradition-rich history, the World Championships and Olympics took place in the same year, which led few with the opportunity to become a champion at both events. Then, a few first-timers reached the pinnacle in Oslo. 

Here are the top moments from the annual event.

FS 97kg - Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF)


Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) is chasing history and greatness. He became a two-time Olympic champion in Tokyo after winning the 97kg gold medal, adding to his 86kg gold from Rio.

In 2021, once the IOC announced the postponement of the Tokyo Games, it provided a unique opportunity for Sadulaev to win an Olympic and World Championships medal in the same year. A gold in both tournaments may well give the wrestlers extra motivation to wrestle at the highest level twice in two months.

Sadulaev did precisely that. After capturing the gold in Tokyo, he wrestled his arch-rival Kyle SNYDER (USA) in the 97kg final in Oslo, Norway and came home with a gold medal, making him the only freestyle wrestler to achieve the rare feat.

The Russian Wrestling Federation wrestler has seven World or Olympic gold medals. He's tied for fourth on the all-time list, which Alexander MEDVED leads with ten combined gold medals from Worlds or Olympics. Three former wrestlers have eight gold medals, while Buvaisar SAITIEV (RWF) sits number two with nine titles.

In a rematch of the Olympics final, Sadulaev won 6-3. He handed Snyder a 6-0 loss in Oslo and improved the head-to-head record to 3-1. His lone defeated came in 2017 at the Paris World Championships.

GR 67kg - Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI)


Like Sadulaev, Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) also wrote his name in history books after becoming an Olympic and world champion in the same year.

He won the top medal at the 67kg Greco-Roman weight class in Oslo, two months after Tokyo.

Geraei, the younger brother of world medalist at 77kg Mohammadali, was the only Olympic champion entered in the Greco-Roman. He proved why he's Iran's next superstar.

The U23 world champion burst into the scene when he won the senior Asian title in 2019 and followed that with the U23 world title. Earlier this year, he claimed the gold at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers and later the Olympics.

In Oslo, Geraei kept his fans on the edge of their seats. On multiple occasions, his bouts ended in a close affair. In the first bout against Tsuchika SHIMOYAMADA (JPN), he trailed 6-1 in the second period before the Japan wrestler went for a big throw but got caught in the move and Geraei secured a pin. In the semifinal, Geraei defeated Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO), 7-6, after the Georgian was cautioned twice for fleeing, giving up four points. He defeated Nazir ABDULLAEV (RWF) 5-2 in the final.

WW 65kg - Irina RINGACI (MDA)


For the 18 years Moldova participated in women's wrestling at the World Championships, they never won a medal. However, in Oslo, they had two. 

Irina RINGACI (MDA) won the country's first-ever world title in women's wrestling, while Iulia LEORDA (MDA) ended with a silver medal. Ringaci outperformed her 65kg rivals and claimed her second world title in less than two months.

Ringaci, who came to Oslo after winning the junior world title in August, defeated Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN) 8-6 in the final. Earlier in the semifinal, she had a close call when she secured a fall over Tokyo Olympian Mimi HRITSOVA (BUL). Trailing 8-0, she completed a big throw for four and then kept the Bulgarian on her back to win.

Since winning the silver at the 2020 Individual World Cup in 2020, Rigaci has been on a stellar run which includes winning the senior and U23 European titles.

But the 20-year-old pioneer of Moldovan women's wrestling has already racked up wins at the senior level and will not be a pushover in the coming years.

GR 60kg - Victor CIOBANU (MDA)


It was a historical final and Victor CIOBANU (MDA) came out on top. The Moldovan wrestler won the gold medal at the 60kg weight class in Oslo, Norway, thus denying Zholaman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ) and Kyrgzstan its first-ever Greco-Roman senior world title.

Ciobanu came close to winning the title in 2018 but reversed his luck this year and with his high-scoring throws, won 9-3 in the final. Sharshenbekov now has two silver medals from the World Championships as his country waits for the gold.

Earlier this year, the Moldova wrestler ended a 25-year-wait for his country to send a wrestler to the Olympics, and he came agonizingly close to winning a medal as well.

He wrestled Sharshenbekov in Tokyo as well and blanked him 9-0 in the quarterfinals.

Apart from the final, Ciobanu had a great run throughout the tournament. He began with a win over Zhora ABOVIAN (UKR), then defeated 2018 world champion Stepan MARYANYAN (RWF) and later won against Gevorg GHARIBYAN (ARM) in the semifinal. Barring the first match, his bouts were close-affairs as he beat Maryanyan, 7-6, and Gharibyan, 9-6.

With Ciobanu's win, Moldova now has atleast one senior world champion in each of the three wrestling styles.

FS 70kg - Mogomedmurad GADHIEV (POL)


The Russian Wrestling Federation dominated the freestyle competition, along with the USA and Iran. But among the three wrestling powerhouses, Poland had its first world champion in freestyle as Magomedmurad GADHIEV (POL) claimed the gold medal at the 70kg weight class.

Ever since his first senior World Championships in 2015, Gadzhiev had won two medals, including a silver in 2017 and a bronze medal at the 2019 edition.

But in a bid to qualify for the Olympics, the European champion dropped down to 65kg but failed to medal there. However, he came back to 70kg and claimed the gold medal in Oslo after beating Ernazar AKHMATALIEV (KGZ) in the final.

In the quarterfinal, he had to go past 2017 world champion Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO), 4-1, and the U23 world champion Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE), 4-2, in the semifinal.

In 2020, he claimed the gold medal at the Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia at 70kg. The veteran was a former Russian Wrestling Federation wrestler till 2012 and also won a junior world title in 2008.

Before Gadzhiev, Pawel KURCZEWSKI (POL) in 1971, Wladyslaw STECYK (POL) in 1977, Marian SKUBAZ (POL) in 1981, Adam SANDURSKI (POL) in 1982 and 1983, and Marek GARMULEWICZ (POL) in 1998 had reached the final but fell short to claim the coveted gold.

WW 76kg - Samar HAMZA (EGY)


Samar HAMZA (EGY) could have retired after the Olympics (she did for a brief time), and yet she would have been the most successful women's wrestler from her country. But she decided to wrestle one more time at the Senior World Championships in Oslo.

The only female wrestler to compete at the Olympics for her country, Hamza improved her resume after she became Egypt's first-ever world medalist. She won a bronze medal in the 76kg weight-class

Hamza can be proud of herself as she reached the semifinal in Oslo and only lost to world champion Adeline GRAY (USA) in the tournament. Then, in the bronze-medal bout, she defeated Kiran GODARA (IND) to claim the historic medal.

FS 79kg - Jordan BURROUGHS (USA)


A familiar name was back on the top of the podium. Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) won his last world title in 2017 and after a gap of four years, he returned to the gold-medal position in Oslo, Norway, by winning the 79kg weight class.

With that, Burroughs became the first male wrestler from America to win the gold medal five times at the Worlds, surpassing John SMITH (USA) who has four of them. Combining World and Olympic titles, the two are tied with six each as Burroughs won the gold medal at the London Olympics in 2012.

In Oslo, Burroughs was wrestling at a new weight class for the first time internationally after giving up his position at 74kg to Kyle DAKE (USA). Burroughs failed to win the Olympic Team Trials as Dake claimed the best of three series. Dake later won a bronze medal at the Olympics to confirm his direct participation in Oslo.

But Burroughs was unchallenged in Oslo. He stormed to his fifth world title outscoring his opponents 30-6, including wins over Radik VALIEV (RWF) and junior world champion Mohammad NOKHODILARIMI (IRI).

The win gives him a shot at becoming the most successful male American wrestler if he can win another gold medal until the end of his career, which is likely to continue until the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Burroughs now has an Olympics gold, five gold and three bronze from the World Championships.

WW 57kg - Anshu MALIK (IND)


As a 20-year-old, Anshu MALIK (IND) did what no other Indian female wrestler ever could. The former cadet world champion reached the final of the Senior World Championships in Oslo and became the first wrestler to achieve the feat in women's wrestling. She won a silver medal in 57kg after losing to Helen MAROULIS (USA) in the final.

The Asian champion wrestled in Tokyo as well but lost in her first bout. After getting a chance in the repechage, she failed to get past Valeria KOBLOVA (RWF) and had to exit her first Olympics without a medal.

But in Oslo, she reached the final after beating junior world champion Nilufar RAIMOVA (KAZ) in the first bout, Davaachimeg ERKHEMBAYAR (MGL), 5-1, in the quarterfinal, U23 European champion Solomiia VYNNYK (UKR) in the semifinal, but she suffered a fall in the final.

Before her, India had five bronze medalists at the World Championships dating back to 2006 when Alka TOMAR (IND) won a bronze. Geeta PHOGAT (IND) and Babita PHOGAT (IND) won in 2012, Pooja DHANDA (IND) won one in 2018 while Vinesh PHOGAT (IND) won the medal in 2019. In Oslo, Sarita MOR (IND) also won a bronze, making it the first time that Indian women's wrestlers had two medals at the same Championships.

WW 76kg - Epp MAEE (EST)


Epp MAEE (EST) has been the pioneer of women's wrestling for Estonia. She is the only wrestler to compete at the senior level be it the World Championships or Olympics. In 2015, she became the first female wrestler from the country to win a medal at the World Championships. She repeated the feat in 2019.

Two years later in Oslo, she became the first wrestler from Estonia to reach a World Championships final in women's wrestling. At 76kg, she made a spectacular run and reached another milestone for her country. However, she fell to six-time world champion Adeline GRAY (USA) in the final.

Back in 2014, Maee wrestled in her first-ever medal bout but ended up losing that in Tashkent. After winning the medal in 2015 which also gave her the qualification for Rio Olympics, she finished fifth in 2017 and 2018. But she was once again back on the podium in Nursultan.

At the 2021 Worlds, Maee won her first two bout via technical superiority and survived a scare against Aiperi MEDET KYZY (KGZ) in the semifinal, winning 3-3 on criteria. Trailing 1-3 with 20 seconds remaining, Maee hit a single-leg and continued the pressure to claim an exposure with five seconds remaining to enter the final.

GR 130kg - Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI)


Iran brought the best to Oslo and did not disappoint. After their freestyle team put on a show, the Greco-Roman team also mesmerized the fans with four gold medals. Aliakbar YOUSOFI (IRI) won the 130kg gold medal and became Iran's first-ever Greco-Roman heavyweight world champion.

Yousofi earned his shot in Iran's lineup after a lucky break. It was only after the original entry, Tokyo bronze medalist Amin MIRZAZADEH (IRI) tested positive for COVID-19 infection that Yousofi earned his berth to Oslo. 

And he returned home with the gold medal, defeating Zurabi GEDEKHAURI (RWF) in the final.

He began with a win over David OVASAPYAN (ARM) and later handed local boy Oskar MARVIK (NOR) in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal, he faced the tough task of beating Tokyo Olympic fifth-place finisher Yasmani ACOSTA FERNANDEZ (CHI). But a perfectly planned bout helped him go past the Chilean wrestler, 2-1. The final was also a story of passivity and stepout points as he won 6-1.