Georgia and Hungary Win Two Golds; Russia Claims Team Title

By Eric Olanowski

PONTEVEDRA, Spain (June 5) –  The Russian Federation, who had a solo champion and medaled at eight of ten weight classes, won the Greco-Roman team title at the Junior European Championships with 159 points; but it was Georgia (151 points) and Hungary (124 points) who finished in second and third place respectively that stole the show on Day 3 – each claiming a pair of Greco-Roman gold medals. 

Chkhikvadze and Shotadze Boost Georgia to Second-Place Finish 
A very familiar scene filled Pabellón Municipal De Los Deportes De Pontevedra during the Greco-Roman gold-medal finals – the Georgian faithful on their feet, waving flags and cheering for their wrestlers to come out on top of their gold-medal bout. 

Their support pushed three Georgian’s to gold medals and helped their nation to a second-place finish, eight points behind eventual champions Russia.  

On Tuesday night, it was 55kg champion Pridon ABULADZE who brought the crowd to their feet with 7-6 come-from-behind win, and on Wednesday, it was Diego CHKHIKVADZE and Giorgi SHOTADZE who carried the Georgian flag around the mat after winning the 60kg and 67kg titles, respectively. 

Chkhikvadze controlled the 60kg finals against Asgar ALIZADA (AZE) by one point after the first period, then tossed the Azeri wrestler for four points in the second period and closed out the finals with a five-point victory. Chkhikvadze’s run to the 60kg title is a major improvement from his 2018 cadet European performance when he finished in 14th place. 

Georgia’s second champion of the day and third overall gold-medal winner was Giorgi Shotadze, who had an easier time winning a gold medal than his fellow Georgian countrymen. Shotadze handled Hayk MELIKYAN (ARM), 9-0 in the 67kg finals. The Georgian carried the 6-0 lead into the second period, then scored a step out and a defensive takedown, and closed out the match, 9-0.

Istvan TAKACS (HUN), the 82kg champion, was one of three Hungarian gold-medal winners. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Takacs and Szoke Help Hungary to Third Place Finish Gives
Istvan TAKACS and Alex SZOKE joined fellow Hungarian Tamas LEVAI (77kg champion) in the winner’s circle after claiming the 82kg and 97kg gold medals, respectively. Their three gold medals helped Hungary move ahead of Turkey for the third-place spot on the team podium with 124 points. 

It was Takacs’ first appearance in the European finals and he made the most of it. The Hungarian, whose highest previous finish came in 2017 when he finished in third place, caught Vitalii ANDRIIOVYCH (UKR) on his heels and scored the match's first takedown. Takacs quickly transitioned into a pair of guts and had the 6-0 lead after the first 60 seconds. Takacs finished the match with an underhook throw by and gave Hungary 25 additional team points with his 8-0 destruction Andriiovych. 

Hungary’s second champion of the day was Alex SZOKE (HUN). Szoke was tied with his 82kg finals opponent Patrick NEUMAIER (GER) heading into the final minute after the pair traded inactivity points; but the Hungarian struck at the one-minute mark, scoring the match-deciding takedown to win the bout, 3-1.

Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) ended the 72kg finals match early after scoring eight quick points against Mihai PETIC (MDA). (Photo: Gabor Martin) 

World Champion Amoyan Annihilates Petic in 72kg Finals 
Armenia’s reigning junior world champion Malkhas AMOYAN emptied the tank on Tuesday night and used up the entire six minutes just to make the finals. He trailed by three points with 15 second left but scored a takedown and stepout and stole the 72kg finals spot from 2016 cadet world silver medalist Sergei STEPANOV (RUS). 

The story was completely different for Amoyan on Wednesday night. There was still 30 seconds left in the first period when the Armenian picked up the technical superiority victory. Amoyan annihilated Mihai PETIC (MDA), 8-0 in the opening period with a pair of takedowns and a pair of lifts and won his first junior European title after finishing in third place the past two years. Although this was his first junior-level European title, Amoyan did win the 2016 69kg cadet European title in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Women's wrestling takes over on Thursday. Action begins at 11:00 (local time) and can be followed on www.unitedworldwrestling.org. 


Final Team Scores 
GOLD - Russia (159 points)
SILVER - Georgia (151 points)
BRONZE - Hungary (124 points)
Fourth - Turkey (95 points)
Fifth - Armenia (93 points)

GOLD - Diego CHKHIKVADZE (GEO) df. Asgar ALIZADA (AZE), 8-3 
BRONZE - Anar MANSUROV (RUS) df. Ivo Krasimirov ILIEV (BUL), 6-4

GOLD - Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) df. Hayk MELIKYAN (ARM), 9-0 
BRONZE - Eldar HASANAU (BLR) df. Haavard JOERGENSEN (NOR), 3-1 
BRONZE - Aker AL OBAIDI (AUT) df. Abdulvakhab Riachitovitch ASAINOV (RUS), 7-2 

GOLD - Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) vs. Mihai PETIC (MDA)
BRONZE - Ismail GUN (TUR) vs. Sergei STEPANOV (RUS) 
BRONZE - Pavel PUKLAVEC (CRO) df. Ihor BYCHKOV (UKR), 7-3 

GOLD - Istvan TAKACS (HUN) df. Vitalii ANDRIIOVYCH (UKR), 8-0 
BRONZE - Karlo KODRIC (CRO) vs. Lucas Alexandros LAZOGIANIS (GER) 
BRONZE - Stanislav PSEUNOV (RUS) df. Ilias PAGKALIDIS (GRE), 3-0 

GOLD - Alex SZOKE (HUN) vs. Patrick NEUMAIER (GER)
BRONZE - Beytullah KAYISDAG (TUR) vs. Gerard Cyprian KURNICZAK (POL) 
BRONZE - Uladzislau PUSTASHYLAU (BLR) df. Koka GARIBADZE (GEO), 7-1  


Shirai gives Japan special gold; Georgia win team title

By Vinay Siwach

PONTEVEDRA, Spain (October 23) -- Not only Japan won a freestyle gold at the U23 Worlds after four years, but it was also a historic one.

No Japanese freestyle wrestler has won a world title in over 80kg at any age group. Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN) changed that Sunday with gold at 86kg in Pontevedra, Spain.

On the final day of the U23 World Championships, he stunned one and all to beat Trent HIDLAY (USA) to win 3-3 in the gold medal bout to end a long drought for Japan.

With gold and two bronze medals, Japan finished eighth in the team race which was surprisingly won by Georgia with 141 points. Favorites Iran finished second with 134 points while the USA managed to get third with 112 points.

Georgia crowned two championships while Iran had four but only one wrestler of the former did not reach the medal bouts. Iran had a rather tricky tournament with only five wrestlers reaching the medal bouts.

The USA failed to crown a world champion for the first time since the 2018 U23 World Championships. It won three silver and two bronze medals.

One of the silver medals was won by Hidlay who was surprised by a strong defensive final by Shirai.

"The final was tiring," Shirai said. "After all, it was against the USA. I have never done this before so there was excitement and I had fun."

Shirai did not start on a positive note as Hidlay scored a stepout before making it 2-0 with Shirai's passivity points. But the Japan wrestler scored a stepout before a takedown gave him the lead with two minutes remaining.

He never engaged again. Hidlay, who backs himself with his underhook and pushout, was frustrated as his attacks were easily blocked by Shirai. The referee warned Shirai for not engaging and even penalized him for that.

But Shirai managed to hang on for the win. In freestyle, Hiroaki TAKAGI (JPN) made the 82kg final in the Espoir division (U20) but he was one of the eight wrestlers who failed to win the title.

"My focus is on weight training and sparring," he said. "That's all for me. And I want to improve my training."

At the Japan collegiate championships in August, Shirai won titles in both freestyle [92kg] and Greco-Roman [87kg} at Nippon Sports Science University. 

He now hopes to win a spot on the Japan team for the senior world championships next year. For that, Shirai will wrestle at the Emperor's Cup in December.

"There are many rivals," he said. "I will train hard and win."

Iran's dominance
Out of the five gold medals on offer Sunday, Iran won three of them. U20 world champions Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) and Amirreaza MASOUMI (IRI) added a U23 world title to their respective age-group gold medals.

The third gold was won by Mohmmadsadegh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) who defeated Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV (AZE), 5-2, at 74kg.

Firouzpour gave up a takedown against Gadzhiyev but roared with his own takedown to lead 2-2 at the break, before hitting another own one in the second period to all but seal it for him.

Last year, Firouzpour fell in the final of the tournament but redeemed himself with the gold medal in Pontevedra.

At 92kg, the elder Firouzpour continued his unparalleled domination in age-group world championships. He finished with a bronze medal in the U23 Worlds last year but Firouzpour made sure he amends that record by winning the 92kg gold against Jacob CARDENAS (USA), 10-0.

The third gold medal was won by Masoumi who defeated Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO), 13-2, in the 125kg final. Manasvili scored two stepouts to open the scoring but that was all he would score.

Masoumi exposed the poor conditioning of Manashvili, and scored 13 answered points with ease to win his third gold at age-group tournaments.

The fifth gold was captured by Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) who became a two-time world champion at the U23 level. 

Wrestling Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) in the 61kg, Harutyunyan led 1-0 with the point for passivity. But he started the second period with a takedown to make it 3-0. But Zhumashbek Uulu scored a takedown using duck under in the activity period to lead 3-3 on criteria.

Harutyunyan then rallied for a takedown and leg lace to make it 7-1. A late stepout against Harutyunyan just changed the score of the win. The two-time world bronze medal took home with gold medal 7-5.



BRONZE: Emrah ORMANOGLU (TUR) df. Aaron NAGAO (USA), 9-4

GOLD: Mohmmadsadegh FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV (AZE), 5-2

BRONZE: Vasile DIACON (MDA) df. Hrayr ALIKHANYAN (ARM), 7-3 
BRONZE: Vadym KURYLENKO (UKR) df. Temuri BERUASHVILI (GEO), via inj. def.

GOLD: Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN) df. Trent HIDLAY (USA), 3-3


GOLD: Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Jacob CARDENAS (USA), 10-0

BRONZE: Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) df. Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ), 14-3 

GOLD: Amirreza MASOUMI (IRI) df. Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO), 13-2

BRONZE: Anthony CASSIOPPI (USA) df. Yurii IDZINSKYI (UKR), via inj. def.
BRONZE: Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) df. Milan KORCSOG (HUN), 6-1