#WrestleTokyo Olympic Games Preview: 67kg
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 17:34 By Vinay Siwach
TOKYO, Japan (July 23) – 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.
The Cuban has won the World Championships gold in the new weight in 2019 to qualify for the Games but a host of other wrestlers will fancy their chances of upsetting him. One of them will be Artem SURKOV (RUS) who lost the final in Nur-sultan.
The two will be the top contenders for the gold medal in Tokyo and are also the number one and three seeded for the Games. If they win all their matches, the two will clash in the final at 67kg.
Borrero, like in the Rio Olympics, is a big match player and raises his level at any big competition. At the 2015 World Championships, he stole the show by winning the gold medal and securing a place for Rio. He repeated the same in Nur-sultan despite not winning a medal at the 2018 Worlds.
In 2019, he has wins over former world champion Frank STAEBLER and upcoming star Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), both capable enough to topple any big star on the given day.
Surkov, a two-time world champion, will also have problems from the same lot as he debuts at the Olympics. While Borrero is his main rival, there is no doubt he will have to navigate through a minefield to reach the final.
One of his biggest challenges will be Elsayed who is seeded number two in the weight class and will meet Surkov not before the semifinal.
The lanky Egyptian has made a name for himself after he won two U23 World Championships gold medals and reached the semifinal of the 2019 Worlds, losing to Borrero. In the bronze medal, he lost to Staebler by a single point.
The German has three world gold medals but is yet to win an Olympic medal. Toyo could well be his last attempt to win the coveted medal. Lately, he has been competing at the 72kg weight class. After becoming the European champion in 2020, he lost to Selcuk CAN (TUR) in 2021.
He will have to drop down to 67kg and that could pose a big challenge for the 32-year-old who is not seeded and will be entered in a random draw at the Games. His previous two Olympics have resulted in a fifth and seventh-place finish in 2012 and 2016 respectively.
The wrestler who is seeded fourth in Mate NEMES (SRB). In Rio, a Serbian claimed the gold medal at this weight class and the same will be expected from Nemes who will be going to the Games for the first time.
But he will be going as a European champion which he won in 2021. In an incredible run at the 2019 Worlds, managed to reach the quarterfinal against Borrero before droppin that match. But he won the bronze medal, his first at the senior Worlds and since has been a top contender for the gold medal in Tokyo.But his lack of attacks against defensive wrestlers could still be a huge problem when he takes the mat in Tokyo.
A veteran Balint KORPASI (HUN) will also be searching for an Olympic medal after four world championships medals including a gold in 2016. Though he has never won the World medals at an Olympic weight class, he is dropping down from 72kg to try and bring glory to Hungary.
One of the links of the dominant Hungarian Grec-Roman team over the past decade, he will have to make way for the up and coming wrestlers from the country as Paris approaches.
And if Iran wants an Olympic champion after nine years, Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) will be the wrestler they pin their hopes on. The younger of the Geraei brothers, Mohammadreza will take motivation from his brother as both compete at the Olympics. The U23 World champion at 72kg, had a dominant tournament in the Olympic Qualifiers in Almaty, including a win over Hansu RYU (KOR).
Now Ryu himself is looking for that first Olympic medal after he finished fifth at the Rio Games. The 31-year-old will use all his experience to get past that line in Tokyo. A world champion in 2013 and 2017, Ryu defeated Rasul CHANAYEV (AZE) at the 2019 Worlds, avenging his loss from Rio Olympics but lost to Borrero and later to Staebler in the repechage.
Three youngsters that can spring a surprise are Karen ASLANYAN (ARM), Parviz NASIBOV (UKR) and Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO). Don't miss out Aker AL OBAIDI (EOR), the wrestler who was granted the refugee quota for the Games.
Wrestling at the Tokyo Olympic Games kicks off August 1-7 at the Makuhari Messe with 67kg action beginning on August 3.
No. 1 Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB)
No. 2 Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY)
No. 3 Artem SURKOV (RUS)
No. 4 Mate NEMES (SRB)
Frank STAEBLER (GER)
Fredrik BJERREHUUS (DEN)
Souleymen NASR (TUN)
Abdelmalek MERABET (ALG)
Julian HORTA ACEVEDO (COL)
Alejandro SANCHO (USA)
Ramaz ZOIDZE (GEO)
Balint KORPASI (HUN)
Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI)
Hansu RYU (KOR)
Karen ASLANYAN (ARM)
Parviz NASIBOV (UKR)
Aker AL OBAIDI (REFUGEE)