Yoshida Goes for Four at Asian Games

By William May

INCHEON, Korea (September 24) – Saori YOSHIDA (JPN) will be trying to make it four Asian Games gold medals in a row when the Incheon 2014 wrestling competition gets under way on Saturday, September 27.

If successful, Yoshida, who won her first Asian Games gold in 2002, will become the third wrestler to win four gold medals at this continental version of the Olympic Games.

While the feat has yet to be accomplished in Olympic Games wrestling, Yutaka KANEKO (JPN) and Eskander FILABI-MOSLEM (IRI) have won four gold medals in the early days of the Asian Games.

The five-day wrestling competition at Dowon Gymnasium in central Incheon will also feature Olympic Games gold medalists KIM Hyeon-Woo (KOR) and JUNG Ji-Hyun (KOR). Both will be seeking their first Asian Games gold medals.

One of the quirks of the wrestling competition at these Asian Games is that with the installation of a new system of weight categories in January, organizers opted to use the eight new categories for freestyle and Greco-Roman, but held to a modified version of the four Olympic Games weight categories for women.

Previews of each day’s action:

Saturday, September 27

At 57kg, 2013 world champion Hassan RAHIMI (IRI), runner-up Amit KUMAR (IND) as well as Asia champion Rasul KALIEV (KAZ) will battle for the title.

JONG Hak-Jin (PRK) may be a surprise, having reportedly replaced world champion YANG Kyong-Il (PRK) as the No.1 bantamweight in DPR Korea.

At 70kg, Bekzod ABDURAKHMANOV (UZB) tries to improve on the bronze medal he won at the world championships while Asian champion and formerly top-ranked Moustafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) attempts to rebound from a loss to Abdurakhmanov in Tashkent.

In the women’s events, world champion Eri TOSAKA (JPN) and 2013 world champ at 51kg SUN Yanan (CHN) appear headed for a showdown at 48kg while former world champion SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL) and 2013 Asia champion XILUO Zhuoma (CHN) could meet in the 63kg final.

Sunday, September 28

Saori YOSHIDA (JPN) stands front and center in her warm-up for Rio de Janeiro 2016. Two Asia champions – ZHONG Xuechun (CHN) at 53kg and JONG In-Sun (PRK) at 55kg – will attempt to derail Yoshida’s bid for a fourth straight Asian Games gold medal.

At 75kg, 2013 world champion ZHANG Fengliu (CHN), Asia champion Guzel MANYUROVA (KAZ) and world bronze medalist OCHIRBAT Burmaa (MGL) will battle for the gold.

In the men’s events, two-time world bronze medalist GANZORIG Mandakhnaran (MGL) and London 2012 bronze medal winner Yogeshwar DUTT (IND) appear to be the favorites at 65kg, with Asian runner-up KANG Jin-Hyeok (PRK) the X factor.

Two-time former world champion Reza YAZDANI (IRI) is entered at 97kg, but may be a question mark after tumbling out of the world championships in the quarterfinals. Asian champion DORJKHAND Khuderbulga (MGL) and runner-up Magomed MUSAEV (KGZ) are ready to step up.

Monday, September 29

World silver medalist and Asia champion Masoud ESMAILPOUR (IRI) will try to end the season on a high note with a gold medal at 61kg. Asia runner-up BAJRANG (IND) and 2013 Asia champoin HWANG Ryong-Hak (PRK) will challenge.

Essadollah AKBARI (IRI), 2013 world silver medalist, and bronze medalist Rashid KURBANOV (UZB) appear to be the wrestlers to beat at 74kg while Asia champion Meisam MOSTAFA JOUKAR (IRI) and 2013 winner Umidyon ISMANOV (UZB) are the top medal candidates at 86kg.

Two-time Asia champion Parviz HADI (IRI) appears to be the odds-on favorite at 125kg, with 2013 Asia runner-up JARGALSAIKHAN Chuluunbat (MGL) and last year’s world No.5 DENG Zhiwei (CHN) the likely dark horses

Tuesday, September 30

Greco-Roman gets under way with 2010 Asian Games gold medalist Kohei HASEGAWA (JPN) and 2013 world champion YUN Won-Chol (PRK) at the forefront of a talented field led by world student champion Kanybek ZHOLCHUBEKOV (KGZ).

Hasegawa owns a win in 2010 over world and Olympic Games champion Hamid SORYAN (IRI), who is not on the list of entries submitted by Iran.

At 71kg, 2011 world champion Saeid Mourad ABDVALI (IRI) and Athens 2004 gold medalist JUNG Ji-Hyun (KOR), winner at the Asian championships in April, are the class of the category. Asia runner-up Maksat YEREZHEPOV (KAZ) and 2010 bronze medalist Tsutomu FUJIMURA (JPN) will challenge.

Hungarian Grand Prix winner Habibbolah AKHLAGI (IRI), third in the United World Wrestling rankings at 80kg most of the summer, hopes to atone for a seventh place in Tashkent. Asia champion Yanarbek KENYEEV (KGZ) and 2010 silver medalist Tsukasa TSURUMAKI (JPN) stand in the way.

At 98kg, Yerulan ISKAKOV (KAZ) seeks to follow up on his triumph at the Asian championships in April. Norikatsu SAIKAWA (JPN) and Mahdi ALIYARI FEYZABADI (IRI), both fifth-place finishers at the 2013 world meet, and Asian bronze medalist XIAO Di (CHN) will challenge.

Wednesday, October 1

World and Olympic Games champion KIM Hyeon-Woo (KOR) will have the local fans on their feet as he seeks his first Asian Games gold medal at 75kg in front of a hometown crowd. Takehiro KANAKUBO (JPN) and Hadi ALIZADEH POURNIA (IRI) have been runners-up to Kim in the last Asian championships.

London 2012 gold medalist Omid NOROOZI (IRI) is entered at 66kg, but recent reports hint that the Tashkent world silver medalist may withdraw because of lower back pains.

Last year’s world champion RYU Han-Su (KOR) will take the favorite’s mantle at home, but 19-year-old Asian champion Ruslan TSAREV (KGZ) and world bronze medalist at 59kg Elmurat TASMURADOV (UZB) will have their say.

All four medalists from the Asian championships at 85kg are entered here, led by champion Nursultan TURSYNOV (KAZ). Runner-up Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB), a bronze medalist at the Golden Grand Prix Final, will try to recover from a 12th-place finish in Tashkent.

At 130kg, defending Asian Games champion Nurmakhan TINALIEV (KAZ) was a world bronze medalist in 2013, but slumped to No.9 in Tashkent. The 2013 Asian champion, however, remains the favorite. Murat RAMONOV (KGZ) was runner-up in April while Iran sends 2011 world bronze medalist Bashir BABAJANZADEH (IRI).


Friday, September 26
17:00-17:30  Weigh-in Freestyle 57, 70kg & Female Wrestling 48, 63kg

Saturday, September 27
13:00-17:00  Qualification Rounds & Repechage Freestyle 57, 70kg & Female Wrestling 48, 63kg
18:00-18:30  Weigh-in Freestyle 65, 97kg & Female Wrestling 55, 75kg
19:00-21:00  Finals & Award Ceremonies Freestyle 57, 70kg & Female Wrestling 48, 63kg

Sunday, September 28
13:00-17:00  Qualification Rounds & Repechage Freestyle 65, 97kg & Female Wrestling 55, 75kg
18:00-18:30  Weigh-in Freestyle 61, 74, 86, 125kg
19:00-21:00  Finals & Award Ceremonies Freestyle 65, 97kg & Female Wrestling 55, 75kg

Monday, September 29
09:00-14:00  Qualification Rounds & Repechage Freestyle 61, 74, 86, 125kg
18:00-18:30  Weigh-in Greco-Roman 59, 71, 80, 98kg
19:00-21:00  Finals & Award Freestyle 61, 74, 86, 125kg

Tuesday, September 30
13:00-17:00  Qualification Rounds & Repechage Greco-Roman 59, 71, 80, 98kg
18:00-18:30  Weigh-in Greco-Roman 66, 75, 85, 130kg
19:00-21:00  Finals & Award Ceremonies Greco-Roman 59, 71, 80, 98kg

Wednesday, October 1
13:00-17:00  Qualification Rounds & Repechage Greco-Roman 66, 75, 85, 130kg
19:00-21:00  Finals & Award Ceremonies Greco-Roman 66, 75, 85, 130kg