#WrestleTokyo Greco-Roman Previews

By United World Wrestling Press

Greco-Roman Previews

The last time the Olympics were held in Tokyo, Japan won two gold medals in Greco-Roman wrestling. 57 years later, Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) will have a chance to repeat the feat the world champion at 60kg leads the country's hope for a Greco-Roman Olympic champion in 37 years.


Big challenges lie ahead of returning Olympic champion Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB). The first is he is making his return in a new weight category, eight kilograms above the 59kg in which won a gold medal in the Rio Olympics.

Five world champions appear in the category which may throw a surprise Olympic champion given a mix of youth and veterans at this weight.


Two-time defending Olympic champion Roman VLASOV's (RUS) reign as the top wrestler will be over after nine years. The winner of the gold medal in 2012 and 2016 failed to win the spot on the Russian team, which means a new Olympic champion will be crowned at this weight.


Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) will look to improve on the Olympic silver medal he won at the 2016 Rio Games. He won gold at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, which was his second world title after claiming gold in 2015. The 30-year-old Beleniuk has five world medals and four European gold medals. Earlier this year, Beleniuk won gold at the Grand Prix of Zagreb before getting a bronze at the European Championships in April. He enters the Tokyo Olympics as the No.2 seed at 87kg.


One of wrestling's greatest rivalries could be renewed in Tokyo if the seeds hold. Musa EVLOEV (RUS) and Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM), two of Greco-Roman's biggest stars, enter Tokyo Games as the top two seeds at 97kg. They have combined to win every world or Olympic title in this weight category since 2014.


Mijain LOPEZ NUNEZ (CUB) will look to make history at the Tokyo Olympics. The Cuban wrestling legend, who enters unseeded, has a chance to become the first four-time Olympic champion in Greco-Roman and the second wrestler in any style to accomplish the feat. (At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Japan's Kaori ICHO became the first four-time Olympic champion wrestler in any style.) The 38-year-old Lopez is not only unbeaten at the Olympic Games since 2008, but he has won five world titles and three world silver medals. Two of his three losses in world championship competition have come to Riza KAYAALP (TUR), who enters the Tokyo Olympics as the top seed at 130kg.



Snyder Takes Olympic Loss to Sadulaev in Stride

By Ken Marantz

CHIBA, Japan (August 7)---The competitor in Kyle SNYDER (USA) hated the defeat. The wrestler in him loved the battle.

Snyder took his loss to rival Abdurashid SADULAEV (ROC) in the final of the freestyle 97kg class on Saturday night at the Tokyo Olympics in stride, already looking forward to the next chance for the two titans to clash.

"It is still exciting," Snyder said. "I love competition, I love wrestling, and I'm thankful to be able to compete." About facing Sadulaev again, he said, "I'd love it."

In the third meeting between the two since they both won gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics in different weight classes, Sadulaev beat the American for the second time with a 6-3 victory at Makuhari Messe Hall A to add a second Olympic gold to his four world titles.

Sadulaev, who had an activity point and a stepout in the first period, built up a 6-0 lead with a pair of tilts in countering Snyder's single-leg takedown attempts. On the first one, the wrestler known as The Russian Tank at one point lifted a prone Snyder completely off the mat, but not enough for a throw and instead settled for angling him over.

"There are definitely some positions that I have got to get better in," Snyder said. "That is what I'm thinking about. I have got to finish those attacks, so that is what I'm going to do. We had an idea of what it would be like."

Snyder, a two-time world champion, never gave up the fight, and came back to score a takedown and stepout in the final minute before Sadulaev ran out the clock.

"I'm a competitor so I hate to lose," Snyder said. "It's the spirit of Jesus that is strong in me. I'm not that strong as a guy, but Jesus is really strong and his spirit keeps me moving forward."

In the series dubbed "Snyderlaev" that drew worldwide attention, Snyder came out on top in their first clash in the final at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, Sadulaev's first after moving up to 97kg. Sadulaev had won the gold in Rio at 86kg, while Snyder had triumphed at 97kg.

Sadulaev gained his revenge at "Snyderlaev II" at the World Championships the next year in Budapest. He has not tasted defeat on the mat since that loss in Paris.

While it is uncertain what Sadulaev's plans are at the moment, Snyder would welcome a "Snyderlaev IV" at this year's World Championships in Oslo in October. Anyway, he intends to be there.

"Lord willing, I will be at the world championships," he said.

Like all American wrestlers, Snyder needs to constantly earn his spot on the national team to major tournaments. Having set the record as the youngest-ever US champion at both the worlds and Olympics, he knows there are always new faces coming along ready to knock him off.

"Guys are getting better and better," he said of prospects for U.S. wrestling. "Everybody is doing the right stuff. We have great coaches, support staff and training environments.

"I'm really happy for all my teammates who did a great job here, and all the coaches because they work so hard. I think we're going to dominate and keep getting better."

With Snyder's silver, the United States finished the Olympic wrestling tournament with nine medals overall, the most of any nation, including three golds.