#WrestleOslo: Sadulaev Maintains Dominance Over Snyder to Grab 5th World Title

By Ken Marantz

OSLO, Norway (October 5) -- With a second victory in two months, Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) has turned the sport's most high-profile rivalry into an increasingly predictable one-sided affair. (Sadulaev vs Snyder All Photos)

Sadulaev was never in danger in rolling to a 6-0 victory over Kyle SNYDER (USA) in the freestyle 97kg final at the World Championships in Oslo on Tuesday night, a win that also propelled the Russian Wrestling Federation to the team title over the United States.

In the fourth edition of the series dubbed "Snyderlaev," Sadulaev looked even more invincible than he did when he notched a 6-3 victory over Snyder in the final at the Tokyo Olympics in August.

"The matches against Snyder are always tough, at the Olympics it was really tough and today I got pretty worn out," Sadulaev said.

Sadulaev, in capturing a fifth career world title, has now won his last three encounters with Snyder since losing their first clash at the 2017 World Championships in Paris. That remains the most recent defeat for the wrestler nicknamed "The Russian Tank."

"I don’t know yet how it feels," Sadulaev said. "I have just won it. I really wanted to win because five-time world champion sounds better than four-time world champion, that’s why many years of hard work have paid off, thank God I’ve got another gold medal."

Abdulrashid SADULAEVAbdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) celebrates with the Russian Wrestling Federation contingent. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

In Tuesday's match, neither wrestler was willing to risk going on the offensive and the first period ended with no shots and Sadulaev up 1-0 after receiving an activity point.

Soon after receiving a second activity point in the second period, Sadulaev scored the first technical points with a takedown off a duck under, which he followed with a gut wrench that further displayed his exceptional power.

For Snyder, a world champion in 2015 and 2017, it gives him a fifth world medal to go with his two Olympic prizes.

The two, born six months apart, both won gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, a 19-year-old Snyder at 97kg and a 20-year-old Sadulaev at 86kg. They became linked in history when Sadulaev moved up to 97kg the following year.

With a combined seven world and Olympic golds, Sadulaev remains on pace to match at the 2024 Paris Olympics the all-time freestyle record of 10 set by Soviet legend Aleksandr MEDVED.

Sadulaev SnyderAbdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) blanked Kyle SNYDER (USA) in the 97kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

For the third time in their careers, the team title was also on the line in the clash between Sadulaev and Snyder in the final. The two teams were tied going into the match after the Russian federation got a bronze medal at 70kg earlier in the night.

Sadulaev's win gave the Russian Wrestling Federation the title with 173 points, followed by the United States with 168. Iran was third at 162. All three countries had three gold medalists each.

In other action on Day 4 at Jordal Amfi arena, history was destined to be made for one country in the 70kg final, and it became Poland's with a victory by Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL).

Magomedmurad GHADZIEVMagomedomurad GHADZHIEV (POL) become the first freestyle champion from Poland. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

The Russian-born Gadzhiev become Poland's first-ever world freestyle champion when he scored a stepout with 1:16 left and held on for a 2-1 victory over Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ) -- who was looking to become his country's first-ever male world champion.

"I am really glad for myself, for my coach, for all the coaches who supported me in Poland, in Europe, in Russia," Gadzhiev said. "I feel like I have fulfilled my duty. I planned that match to go in a little different way, but now only the result matters."

Akmataliev, who lost a close 3-3 decision in the first round at 65kg at the Tokyo Olympics to Bajrang PUNIA (IND), had been ahead 1-1 on criteria after getting the second activity point of the match.

With the victory, Gadzhiev, who placed seventh at the Tokyo Olympics at 65kg, completed the world medal set, adding to his silver from 2017 and bronze in 2019. He is a two-time European champion and six-time medalist.

"I am 33 years old, I’ve been to world championships many times, I got gold silver and bronze medals, I’ve been to the Olympics two times," Gadzhiev said. "Now I am finally the world champion. I glad I made my dream come true. It was my dream of my dad as well, unfortunately he is not alive anymore."

AIsuluu TynybekovaAisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) claimed her second consecutive World title at 62kg. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

In the women's finals, Aisululu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) successfully defended her 62kg title, relying on her defense to stifle 2019 world U23 silver medalist Kayla MIRACLE (USA) 7-0 in the 62kg final.

Limited to an activity point in the first period, Tynybekova got a 2-point exposure on a counter to a Miracle single, plus a point for an unsuccessful challenge of the call, to go ahead 4-0. She added a stepout, then a takedown in the final seconds.

Tynybekova did not have to contend with nemesis Yukako KAWAI (JPN), who beat her in the final at the Tokyo Olympics and, like all of Japan's medalists, did not make the trip to Oslo.

Tynybekova WorldsAisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) won the 62kg title after beating Kayla MIRACLE. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

But that's not to say that Tynybekova had it much easier. In the first round, she fell behind 4-0 against two-time world cadet champion Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) before rallying to a 6-4 win. She also had a close call in the quarterfinals.

"Today's final match was easier than any other match during this championships," Tynybekova said. "Yesterday, all the three matches were really tough, I can say I could barely win them in the last seconds.

"I wrestled the American girl at the international tournament in Italy and I know the way she wrestles. We figured out her technique together with the coach and I just followed everything he told me."

In the end, winning is all that counts for the woman who became the first wrestling world champion in her country's history, male or female. She was also one of two wrestlers who became Kyrgyzstan's first-ever female Olympic medalists in any sport at the Tokyo Games.

"As soon as I stepped out of the mat, my coach praised me," Tynybekova said. "It's most important for me to make my coach glad. I think all the people from Kyrgyzstan are glad as well. Talking about being a two-time world champion, I can say that I proved it to myself that I could make it. Of course, it makes me happy. Especially after losing at the Olympics, I could prepare well and win. It means a lot to me."

At 55kg, 2016 world cadet champion Tsugumi SAKURAI (JPN) started what Japan hopes will be a gold rush with her most dominant victory of the tournament, a 10-0 technical fall over two-time European bronze medalist Nina HEMMER (GER).

SakuraiTsugumi SAKURAI (JPN) won her debut senior World title in Oslo. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

"There were wrestlers who appeared in the Olympics and have had good results, and I was able to compete against them and beat them," the soft-spoken Sakurai said of winning at her first senior World Championships. "It gives me confidence."

Sakurai, whose limited international experience includes a victory at the 2020 Klippan Lady, jumped out to a 4-0 lead with a nifty ankle lift that sent Hemmer to her back, which she then followed with a 2-point lace lock.

Using a 2-on-1 arm hold, Sakurai ripped off a pair of takedowns to finish the match in 2:08 and relegate Hemmer to a silver medal -- nothing to scoff at, she had never finished higher than eighth in five previous World Championships.

"First of all, I'm very thankful that this tournament was held," Sakurai said. "I was nervous, but I just thought to do the same wrestling that I always do, and I felt that I did that."

Regarding being Japan's first gold medalist, she said, "I was the first, but the women just started and we have some in the finals already. Japan women's wrestling is strong and we always take gold medals at the championships, so I prepared with the aim of winning a gold medal."

The 20-year-old Sakurai has already made history of sorts in Japan. By winning the title at the All-Japan Championships last December, one of the qualifiers for Oslo, she became the first-ever national champion from Ikuei University, which was founded in 2018.

Now she is the school's first world champion as well. "There are many people who supported me and many who trained with me and taught me, so I am blessed with a good environment," she said. "That's why I could do well here."

ZherbaevEvgenii ZHERBAEV (RWF) won a bronze medal at 70kg. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

In the bronze-medal matches, Evgenii ZHERBAEV (RWF), making his first-ever appearance at a major championship at age 31, came away with a bronze at 70kg by grinding out a 6-0 victory over Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM).

Zherbaev, who has never even won a national title, scored all of his points in the first period to deny Andreasyan, a bronze medalist this year at both the European senior and U23 tournaments.

The other match at 70kg ended with a confusing flurry, and when the dust cleared and a replay confirmed a challenge, former world champion Zurabi IAKOBISHVILI (GEO) had a 4-3 victory over two-time world junior bronze medalist Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE).

With the Georgian holding a 2-1 lead in the final seconds, Bayramov cross-faced him for an exposure, but, as the replay showed, Iakobishvili leaned back and forced Bayramov to his back for 2 of his own at the buzzer.

It gave Iakobishvili his third world medal, adding to the gold he won in 2017 and bronze in 2018.

At 97kg, 2020 Asian champion and two-time world U23 gold medalist Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI) overwhelmed Batzul ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL) with a 10-0 technical fall in 4:16.

Mahamed ZAKARIIEV (UKR), nursing a one-point lead late against Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (BLR), unleashed a 4-counter lift with :17 left en route to a 9-3 victory for the other bronze medal at the 97kg category.. It gave Zakariiev his first-ever major medal on any level.

In the women's matches, European junior champion Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR) won a 10-8 shootout at 55kg with the continental senior champion Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RWF).

Khomenets went up 6-4 in the first period with 4-point throw, and that gave her the lead on criteria when Khoroshavtseva came back to tie it at 8-8. With the Russian pressing for a winning score, Khomenets came away with a takedown with :05 left to take the bronze.

Jenna BURKERT (USA) secured an elusive medal, scoring a takedown and two stepouts in a solid 5-2 victory over 2020 Asian champion PINKI (IND) in the other 55kg match.

Burkert, a member of the U.S. military, had won just one match in three previous trips to the World Championships. To get to Oslo, she had to win out in an intense best-of-3 battle at the U.S. team trials with 2019 world champion Jaccara WINCHESTER (USA).

At 62kg, two-time world cadet champion Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) capped her international senior debut with a 12-0 technical fall over 2019 world bronze medalist Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR).

As she did in her first-round loss to Tynybekova, the 18-year-old Ozaki took a 4-0 lead with a pair of first-period takedowns. But instead of squadering the chance, as she did in falling 6-4 to Tynybekova, Ozaki had a pair of 4-point moves on double-leg takedowns to the back to finish off the Ukrainian.

In the other match, 2018 world U23 bronze medalist Gantuya ENKHBAT (MGL) survived a late surge by Lais NUNES DE OLIVEIRA (BRA) to notch a 7-6 victory.

Nunes de Oliveira, looking for her first medal in seven trips to the World Championships, had a four-point takedown to assure she would have the criteria advantage. But after scoring two stepouts in the last 30 seconds to cut the lead to one, Enkhbat avoided giving up another one to take the bronze.

Podium 97kgThe four medalists of the 97kg weight class in Oslo, Norway. (Photo: UWW / Tony Rotundo)

Day 4 Results


70kg (26 entries)
GOLD: Magomedmurad GADZHIEV (POL) df. Ernazar AKMATALIEV (KGZ), 2-1


97kg (22 entries)
GOLD: Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) df. Kyle SNYDER (USA), 6-0

BRONZE: Mahamed ZAKARIIEV (UKR) df. Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (BLR), 9-3
BRONZE: Mojtaba GOLEIJ (IRI) df. Batzul ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL) by TF, 10-0, 4:16

Women's Wrestling

50kg (20 entries)
Semifinal: Sara HILDEBRANDT (USA) df. Nadezhda SOKOLOVA (RWF) by TF, 12-1, 5:43
Semifinal: Remina YOSHIMOTO (JPN) df. Emilia VUC (ROU) by TF, 11-0, 3:50

53kg (17 entries)
Semifinal: Akari FUJINAMI (JPN) df. Katarzyna KRAWCZYK (POL) by TF, 10-0, 3:04
Semifinal: Iulia LEORDA (MDA) df. Khrystyna BEREZA (UKR) by Fall, 5:45 (6-10)

55kg (14 entries)
GOLD: Tsugumi SAKURAI (JPN) df. Nina HEMMER (GER) by TF, 10-0, 2:08

BRONZE: Jenna BURKERT (USA) df. Pinki PINKI (IND), 5-2

62kg (17 entries)
GOLD: Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Kayla MIRACLE (USA), 7-0

BRONZE: Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) df. Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR) by TF, 12-0, 5:15

65kg (19 entries)
Semifinal: Irina RINGACI (MDA) df. Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) by Fall, 2:42 (4-8)
Semifinal: Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN) df. Forrest MOLINARI (USA), 6-2

76kg (18 entries)
Semifinal: Adeline GRAY (USA) df. Samar HAMZA (EGY) by Fall, 3:59 (11-1)
Semifinal: Epp MAEE (EST) df. Aiperi MEDET KYZY (KGZ), 3-3


What's the driving force behind Vlasov's attempt to win a third Olympic title?

By Eric Olanowski

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 9) -- Roman VLASOV (RWF) was denied a chance to go for a third Olympic gold earlier this year, but made sure he would not miss out on his shot at winning a third world title.

Vlasov chalked up a meticulous and hard-fought 2-1 victory over ‘20 European champion Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) to take the 77kg at October’s World Championships in Oslo.

"I was super tired, I couldn't even celebrate as I usually do," Vlasov said. "I left all my power and energy on the mat."

Prior to the Tokyo snub, Vlasov considered ending his career. But the desire to achieve his dream of matching the legendary Alexander KARELIN (RWF) with three Olympic golds inspired him to reset his sights for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Like his hero and son’s god father, Karelin, Vlasov is a native of Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia and was mentored by the great coach Viktor KUZNETSOV.

Oslo would be the first stop on the long road to Paris, as it would provide confirmation that he could live up to his own expectations. A world champion in 2011 and 2015, he finished out of the medals in 2017 and 2019.

"The last time I won the World Championships was in 2015, before in 2011. It’s been a long time," Vlasov said. "I missed these emotions. To be the best in the world is the thing I’ve been dreaming about. It’s the thing I think about when I wake up in the morning before going to training."

After barreling through the rounds, winning each of his four matches by at least seven points, Vlasov found a formidable foe in Suleymanov, this year's European bronze medalist and the ‘19 U23 world silver medalist.

Vlasov, a four-time European champion who turned 31 in Oslo, had the first chance in par terre, but could only get a 1-point stepout after walking the airborne Suleymanov over the edge.

But Suleymanov had no answer when the roles were reversed in the second period, and Vlasov clinched the win when he deftly evaded a stepout attempt in the final 20 seconds.

"The final match did not go as planned," Vlasov said. "I had to wrestle super hard to keep that one point scored. Patience brought the gold."

Patience and appreciation of each victory along the way are what will look to get him to the Paris Games, a lesson he learned from the Tokyo debacle.

"The last Olympic cycle I made the mistake of counting down the days to the Olympics," Vlasov said. "This time I just enjoy every title. Today I am the happiest man on Earth, tomorrow we’ll be the new day, the new qualification for the new world championships. "The Olympics are the dream of every athlete. I’ve been there twice, and I want to become a three-time Olympic champion. But it’s better not to go ahead of time."