#WrestleOslo: Vlasov Back to Familiar Territory by Reaching 77kg Final

By Vinay Siwach

OSLO, Norway (October 7) -- Roman VLASOV (RWF) let out a loud cry after winning his semifinal bout. Three years after he last became a world champion, the two-time Olympic champion was once again back in familiar territory as he reached the final of 77kg weight class at the senior World Championships in Oslo, Norway.

Vlasov lost in the pre-quarterfinals of the 2019 World Championships and then failed to earn a spot on the Russian Wrestling Federation team for the Tokyo Olympics. But soon after the Olympics, he announced that he wants to win a third Olympic gold and will run for the Paris cycle.

Leading a young Russian Wrestling Federation in Oslo, Vlasov destroyed the competition in Oslo as he began with a 11-0 crushing of Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) in the opening bout, won 10-3 against Dmytro PYSHKOV (UKR) and then manhandled World bronze medalist Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) 10-1 in the quarterfinals.

A tough task in the semifinals awaited him as a young Tamas LEVAI (HUN) had made it to the semifinals from the other side. Levai had an indirect hand in keeping Vlasov out of the Tokyo team by beating him at the Poland Open ranking series event. That event was being treated as the selection trial by the Russian Wrestling Federation and Vlasov lost in the semifinal against Levai.

But he avenged that loss Thursday as he beat Levai 7-0 and did not let the Hungarian take control of the bout. One of the strategies that Levai had in Warsaw was to not let Vlasov open up for attacks. But Vlasov did not let Levai settle down Thursday and began early with scoring. All seven points were scored in the first period.

Levai's loss also ended the tournament for world champion Viktor NEMES (SRB) as he had suffered a 1-1 loss to the Hungary wrestler. The two points were awarded for passivity but Levai was awarded in the second period, giving him the criteria of last point scored.

Vlasov will now face Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) in the final as he defeated Tsimur BERDYIEU (BLR) 5-4 in the other semifinal. After being awarded a point for passivity and then a four-point throw, Suleymanov had to concede a four-point throw but managed to survive any further attacks.

At 82kg, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Rafiq HUSEYNOV (AZE) had to overcome a world medalist and an European medalist to reach his second straight Worlds final. In the semifinal, he defeated Adlan AKIEV (RWF), the 2021 European champion, 2-1 to advance to the final. He was awarded a point for passivity but he failed to benefit from the par terre position. But he added a point for pushout to make it 2-0. A point was awarded against him for passivity but Akiev failed to do much after that.

Earlier, he rallied from 6-0 down to win 7-6 against Alex KESSIDIS (SWE). He went for with his arms around Kessidis' waist but the Sweden wrestler used the momentum to throw Huseynov for four. He then added a gut wrench to be within two points of victory.

But Huseynov got unreal with a throw and point for passivity. A takedown made it 7-6 and he stuck to that score until the end of the bout.

He will now face Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) who managed to beat Pejman POSHTAM (IRI) 5-2. The match was decided in the first period when Akbudak scored a four point throw and Poshtam could never recover from that.

Japan had a finalist Thursday after Ken MATSUI (JPN) pinned former world champion Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE). Matsui was toying around with Azizli who was looking for his second world title. Matsui went for an underhook and Azizli made it very easy to pin once he was on his hips. Matsui will now have Individual World Cup winner Emin SEFERSHAEV (RWF) in the final. He defeated Norayr HAKHOYAN (ARM) 3-2.

In the fourth category -- 72kg -- Russian Wrestling Federation had another finalist as Sergei KUTUZOV (RWF) blasted Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) 10-0 in the semifinal and advanced. Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) will be his opponent in the final as he denied another Iran wrestler, Mohammad MOKHTARI (IRI), a spot in the final two. Amoyan beat Mokhtari 10-6

Greco-Roman will continue on day seven of the World Championships in Oslo, Norway.


Snyder was better prepared at Olympics: Sadulaev after 'easy' win to 5th World title

By Vinay Siwach

OSLO, Norway (October 8) -- They had not wrestled each other for three years since that night in Budapest but now they faced each other twice in two months. Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) and Kyle SNYDER (USA) put on a show at the Tokyo Olympics in August and this week in Oslo, Norway. Sadulaev, who lost to the American in 2017 Worlds, avenged that loss at the 2018 Budapest edition. A third bout was expected in Nursultan but Snyder lost in the semifinal while Sadulaev reached the final.

The 1-1 tie was broken in Tokyo, the sport's grandest stage, when Sadulaev beat Snyder 7-0 to claim his second Olympic gold. So when the two met in Oslo, it was a question of Snyder keeping up with the Russian Tank or Sadulaev making it an one-sided affair.

"I really wanted to win in Oslo, because five-time world champion sounds better than four-time champion," Sadulaev said.

He did become a five-time world champion when he beat Snyder 6-0 in the 97kg final and also led the Russian Wrestling Federation to yet another team title win at the World Championships. The fact that it came down to this bout to decide the title was history repeating itself. Back in 2017, it was the same case but Snyder then defeated a new-to-97kg Sadulaev and claimed the title for USA.

"Years of work pays off and thank God I won again," Sadulaev said. "I always have tough matches with Snyder. I could barely get off the mat at the Olympics, today I was tired at the end, but everything went well."

Sadulaev took some time to catch his breath after the bout in Tokyo and sat matside before finally leaving the arena. But in Oslo, his conditioning looked better and a change in strategy helped him pull off the win with ease.

"In Tokyo, I immediately began to attack, but here in the first period I decided to see what he would do," he said. "I understood his tactics, and in the second period I did not let him take the lead."

Now a five-time world champion Sadulaev explained more about his approach to a 'Synderlaev' bout and said he doesn't really plan for a bout against his American opponent.

"I don't have any special tactic for the matches against Snyder," Sadulaev said. "I know he is trying to wear me out. So I was trying to make him wrestle my way and not let him set his own rules. In the end, I noticed that he got more worn out than me.

"Personally, I think he was better prepared physically and mentally at the Olympics. I was more tired there. It was easier to win here." 

Sadulaev had a 5-0 lead after the first period. Snyder was called for passivity and as soon as the activity clocked ended, the RWF wrestler pounced with a takedown to increase the lead and then exposed the American with a gut. Snyder did try to attack but was called passive for his lack of activity and won 6-0.

Asked whether this was the most difficult win for him, Sadulaev said that the 2018 win in Budapest still remains a special win for him given that it was a revenge bout.

"Then I had been waiting for that match for a whole year, I wanted to take revenge," he said. "And at the Olympics or today, I didn’t expect to wrestle with him. Here, the most important thing was to win the gold medal of the World Championship. Of course, it's nice that our rivalry with Snyder makes people more interested in our sport."

Despite leading the head-to-head tie 3-1, Sadulaev believes that it won't be easy going forward to wrestle Snyder. "Before the third match, we could not meet for three years, but now it is the second match in two months. There will be no undefeated wrestler, sooner or later everyone loses, it's just that now is my time." 

Sadulaev injured his knee right before the Olympics and it was doubted that he would struggle with the injury. But he said that he would have fought in the Olympics even if he had no leg.

"I have not yet fully recovered from the injury, but in Oslo I felt better than in Tokyo," he said. "I think that now I deserve a little rest and I will heal. My personal coach Shamil OMAROV is next to me - he is like my father, my elder brother during competitions and training camps, and he prepares me in a special way for each bout."

It is still unclear when the new season will start for the star wrestler but he said that till he is healthy, he will continue wrestling at the World Championships with no target on how many medals he wants to win at the megaevent.

"I want to enjoy the victory and have a little rest, and then I will think," he said. "With the help of God there will be no injuries, there will be no problems. I will wrestle for as long as I have strength and health. I am not planning to leave the sport before Paris Olympics. I will keep preparing for the upcoming tournaments.

"For now I will go for a vacation. I will spin the globe and go wherever my finger points."

Sadulaev was leading a young team to Oslo with only him and Tokyo bronze medalist Artur NAIFANOV (RWF) wrestling at the event. Tokyo Olympics champions Zavur UGUEV (RWF) and Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RWF) decided to skip the Oslo event. 65kg bronze medalist Gazhdimurad RASHIDOV (RWF) was also missing from the event.

The 26-year-old said that it brought added responsibility to him and explained that the experience of wrestling at the World Championships will be invaluable for the team.

"The longer I wrestle, the more responsibility it brings," he said. "Before, no one knew my wrestling style, today everyone knows how I wrestle, and I have to work hard to keep winning.

"I am glad that the number of world champions in Russia has increased. There are only two Olympians in our team. The rest of the guys are young. Some wrestled worse than they could actually do because we know that it is sometimes more difficult to win the national championships than the world championships. They went through tough trials, came here, but someone lacked experience, anything can happen. I will say one thing that everyone has a great future, the main thing is never giving up."