#WrestleOslo: USA, Japan Put Three in WW Semifinals as Gray Eyes 6th Title

By Vinay Siwach

OSLO, Norway (October 5) -- Akari FUJINAMI (JPN) lived up to the hype. The 17-year-old from Japan outscored her opponents 21-0 in the two bouts and reached the semifinal of the 53kg weight class at the senior World Championships in Oslo, Norway.

The two-time cadet world champion defeated POOJA (IND) 11-0 and then former World Championships medalist Luisa VALVERDE MELENDRES (ECU) 10-0 in the quarterfinals. Her win took her to the semifinal and she will face Katarzyna KRAWCZYK (POL) who defeated junior world champion Emma MALMGREN (SWE) via fall in the quarterfinal.

Fujinami's overall wrestling with defense and offense combined made it almost impossible for her opponents to score on her and ultimately giving up points. She won the All Japan Championships to book her ticket to Oslo. Japan's 53kg Tokyo Olympic champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) decided to sit out of the tournament.

The other final at 53kg will be between Khrystyna BEREZA (UKR) and Iulia LEORDA (MDA). Bereza defeated Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) 6-3 while Leorda overcame Samantha STEWART (CAN) 10-4.

Tokyo Olympic silver Adeline GRAY (USA) and fifth-place Aiperi MEDET KYZY (KGZ) are on course for a finals meeting after they reached their respective semifinals. Gray was once again in her elements as she won both her bouts on Tuesday via first-period fall. She beat KIRAN (IND) in the quarterfinals.

Medet Kyzy also took no time to move past Marina SUROVTSEVA (RWF) 10-0 and set up a meeting with Tokyo Olympian and European champion Epp MAEE (EST). The Kyrgyzstan wrestler wrestled Gray in the Olympic semifinal and lost 3-2 in a nail-biting finish. 

Samar HAMZA (EGY) beat Yasuha MATSUYUKI (JPN) 4-2 to set up a semifinal against Gray. Hamza was trailing 2-2 on criteria but a pushout in the final three seconds gave her a point. Japan challenged the call but lost, adding one more point to Hamza's score.

Sarah HildebrandtSarah HILDEBRANDT (USA) reached the 50kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Tony Rotundo)

Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA) also remained on course for her second Worlds final as she leg-laced her way to the semifinal. Losa ERSEL (GER) tried to put up a challenge but the USA wrestler was too strong for her. She will wrestle Nadezhda SOKOLOVA (RWF) in the semifinal after the latter made short work of Hanny KUMARI (IND) in a 10-0 win.

In the other semifinal, two-time world silver medalist Emilia VUC (ROU) will face young star Remina YOSHIMOTO (JPN) who beat Otgonjargal DOLGORJAV (MGL) via fall. Vuc was up against Madison PARKS (CAN) and was in a bit of trouble early but then got a takedown and four exposures to win 13-3. A lost challenge from Canada added one more point to her score.

A third wrestler for USA reached the semifinal after Forrest MOLINARI managed to pull off a late takedown for a 3-3 criteria win over Koumba LARROQUE (FRA). The France wrestler led 3-1 going into the final ten seconds but was exposed to her back by the American to give up the lead.

Molinari will face Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN) in the semifinal after the Japan wrestler defeated Aina TEMIRTASSOVA (KAZ) 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Junior world champion Irina RINGACI (MDA) was also in top form when she beat Malin MATTSSON (SWE) 6-2 and reached the semifinal against Tokyo Olympian Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL). The Bulgarian wrestler struggled a bit but finally overcame Asli DEMIR (TUR) 7-2.


Yazdani details emotional win over Taylor that propelled him to third world title

By Eric Olanowski

OSLO, Norway (November 26) --- Hassan “The Greatest” YAZDANI (IRI) headed into the Oslo World Championships with revenge on his mind. He lost to career rival David TAYLOR (USA) in three consecutive matches – including once in August via a last-second takedown in the Tokyo Olympic finals.

Yazdani turned the tides in Oslo on a cold October night and exacted revenge on Taylor and claimed his third world title.

United World Wrestling sat down with Yazdani after his epic win to talk about the losses that drove him to become a three-time world champion, what was different about his Iranian team in Oslo and what’s motivating him to chase a second Olympic gold medal.

The Epic Oslo Matchup:
Yazdani controlled the 86kg world finals match from start to finish to notch a solid 6-2 victory over Taylor in the highly anticipated 86kg final at the Oslo World Championships.

Yazdani's victory, coming two months after a heartbreaking loss to Taylor in the final at the Tokyo Olympics, gave him a third world title to go with his 2016 Rio Olympic gold, and capped a remarkable day for Iran in the Jordal Amfi arena.

"I made the people of Iran happy," Yazdani said. "I need to appreciate Taylor, because he worked as a motivation and inspiration for me to work better and better and become the champion."

The vocal contingent of Iranian fans were sent into a frenzy when rising star Amir ZARE (IRI) claimed the 125kg title, having earlier seen Iran gain finalists in all four weight classes that got underway Sunday, including Yazdani's cousin Amir YAZDANI (IRI).

"Iran always supports their wrestlers and fans here were great," Yazdani said. "And it was because of them and God I won."

The United States had mixed success in the two other finals, with Kyle DAKE (USA) prevailing at 74kg, but Daton FIX (USA) coming up short against Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (RWF) at 61kg.

In Tokyo, Yazdani had to settle for the Olympic silver when Taylor scored a takedown with 17 seconds left for a 4-3 win in the final. On Sunday, he never gave the American the chance to get close.

Yazdani continually kept the pressure on, using an underhook to force Taylor to the edge and score a pair of stepout points in the first period. In the second period, he added a takedown, before Taylor got on the scoreboard with a takedown with 1:03 left.

With the clock ticking down, Taylor tried a counter lift, but Yazdani held firm and dumped him to the mat for a takedown and the final points of an well-earned victory.

"He's a great competitor," said Taylor, whose lone world title came in 2018, where he beat Yazdani in the first round. "Not my day."

Asked what he could have done differently, Taylor quipped, "Scored my points. He's a good wrestler. We will go again."