#WrestleParis, Olympics

UWW approves updated Paris Olympics qualification process

By Vinay Siwach

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (September 28) -- United World Wrestling has approved an updated qualification process for the '24 Paris Olympics.

To qualify for the Paris Games, wrestlers will get three events. -- the 2023 World Championships, the continental qualifiers in 2024, and the 2024 World Olympics Qualifiers, the last chance for wrestlers to earn a spot.

Wrestling will be contested in three styles -- Greco-Roman, men's freestyle, and women's freestyle -- with a total of 18 weight classes. One weight class will have 16 wrestlers and each nation will be able to field a maximum of one wrestler per weight. Overall, 288 quotas will be awarded for the '24 Olympics.

"We are extremely happy to confirm the qualifying period and structure for the Paris Olympics," Nenad LALOVIC, UWW President, said. "We have made a few changes to the qualifying process that creates further fairness in the distribution between the World Championships and the World Qualifier."

Any wrestler born on/before December 31, 2006, is eligible to compete and qualify for the Paris Olympics. According to the updated system, the National Olympic Committees that participated in the '23 senior continental championships will be allowed to participate in the '23 World Championships which is the first qualification tournament [with the same number of athletes per style].

Earlier, 108 quotas were awarded at the World Championships [six per Olympic weight] but UWW has decided to reduce it to 90 quotas [five per Olympic weight].

At the 2023 World Championships, all four medalists [gold, silver, and two bronze] will secure the quota for their nation. The fifth spot will be decided with a bout between the wrestlers who lost their bronze medal matches. The winner of this wrestle-off gets a quota for the '24 Games.

In the second phase, 144 wrestlers will qualify for the Paris Games through the continental quotas. The top two wrestlers in each Olympic weight class will get one spot each for their NOCs.

Athletes who earned a quota at the '23 Worlds will not be eligible to participate in the continental qualifiers unless they participate in a different style. For continental qualifiers, a NOC/NF can only send the same number of wrestlers that participated in the '24 senior continental championships.

The third and final phase will see the World Olympic Qualifiers offer three quotas in each Olympic weight class instead of the two it offered previously. A total of 54 wrestlers can qualify for the tournament.

Apart from the 36 finalists across three styles, the bronze medal winners will also have a chance to get a quota for their country. An additional wrestle-off will be held between the two bronze medal winners and the wrestler who wins the quota wrestle-off will take the trip to Paris.

Any country can send its wrestlers to this event barring the wrestlers who won quotas in phases one and two.

UWW's vision to update the qualification was to give fair chance to wrestlers who failed to reach the finals at the World Olympic Qualifiers. This also makes the repechage equally important as the semifinals.

If there are any unused quotas due to withdrawal, doping offense, or non-participation, the quota will be transferred to the next best wrestler of that weight category of the tournament.

The qualifying period begins September 16, 2023, and ends May 12, 2024. The eight-month period will see six qualifying tournaments.

The deadline for the Paris Olympic entries is July 8, 2024, with wrestling scheduled to take place in Paris from August 4-11, 2024.

The candidacy to host the Continental Olympic Qualifiers and the World Olympic Qualifiers is now open and UWW encourages all the NFs interested to host one of these events to send their candidacy.


FS World Cup: 5 match-ups to watch

By Vinay Siwach

CORALVILLE, Iowa (November 22) -- The World Cup in Coralville will offer spectacular match-ups with a few being repeats from the Belgrade World Championships while others being first timers.

There will be no dearth of action for the fans who will assemble at the Xtreme Arena for the tournament on December 10 and 11.

The freestyle competition will see stars from hosts USA, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, Georgia and the All-Star team in action with plenty to look forward to. But here are the top five potential match-ups.

The six teams are divided into two groups with the USA paired alongside Japan and Mongolia while Iran is pooled with Georgia and the All-World Team.

65kg - Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) vs John DIAKOMIHALIS (USA)

The 65kg final in Belgrade saw two of the most exciting young talents right now in the world. Amouzad and Diakomihalis put on a show in a 21-point gold-medal bout in Belgrade. It began with both going for attacks from the start and in one sequence, the two managed to score 14 points with Diakomihalis leading 8-6. However, Amouzad ran away in the second period, adding seven points to win the gold. A rematch only promises to be better with Diakomihalis turning up with the support of the home crowd and in familiar territory. Having wrestled Amouzad will help him change his tactics, if any, for the rematch. The fans can expect a flurry of attacks from both wrestlers to get the early advantage.

For Amouzad, it will be a chance to set himself as the 65kg favorite with Olympic champion Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) being away from the mat. Like Otoguro in 2018 when he beat Bajrang PUNIA (IND) 15-9 to win the world gold, Amouzad showed his caliber against Diakomihalis. From here, it can get better for Amouzad or Diakomihalis can emerge as the challenger.

70kg - Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) vs Ernazar AKMATALIEV (UWW)

Another rematch that promises to be a thriller. Yazdani and Akmataliev met in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Almaty last year and managed to let it fly from the first whistle. Yazdani built a 12-8 lead at the break but Akmataliev used the front chest wrap to score two exposure in the second period and managed to win against Yazdani who failed to keep the pace. That was at 65kg.

Both wrestlers have now moved up to 70kg. In Oslo, Yazdani won silver at 65kg while Akmataliev won the same medal at 70kg. Akmataliev added bronze at Belgrade and will now be a crucial member of the All-World Team at the World Cup. Yazdani will be burning to get on the mat after missing out in Belgrade and finishing second at the U23 World Championships.

The two bring high-quality wrestling to the mat with Akmataliev depending on big throws while Yazdani counters most attacks of his opponents. If the two meet at the World Cup, it is sure going to be another humdinger.

Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK)Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (UWW) is a two-time world silver medalist. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

74kg - Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (UWW) vs. Jason NOLF (USA)

Salkazanov has been in two World Championships finals but failed to cross the final barrier -- Kyle DAKE (USA). But with world champion Dake deciding to sit out of the World Cup, Salkazanov will get a chance to square up against another American wrestler at 74kg in Jason NOLF (USA).

Nolf has been an exciting prospect for the USA but Salkazanov has the experience of beating world-class wrestlers. He will be bringing all that experience to Coralville and Nolf will be waiting for him. Nolf won silver at the prestigious Ivan Yarguin Grand Prix at the start of the year. However, it will be a test for him if he can break the defense of Salkazanov.

The match can turn out to be a fierce battle if Nolf can build an early lead that will put Salkazanov in a spot of bother. He will then try to cover up the lead, making the match exciting.

86kg - Alireza KARIMI (IRI) vs Azamat DAULETBEKOV (UWW)

Three-time world medalist Karimi will be on the Iran team in the absence of superstar Hassan YAZDANI (IRI). Karimi has been playing second fiddle to Yazdani for a long time and this trip can help him gain experience if he wants to beat Yazdani in Iran. A match-up against Azamat DAULETBEKOV (UWW) will be a perfect start.

While Karimi has beaten Dauletbekov in their previous three meetings, Dauletbekov will have the confidence to pull one back. He won the bronze medal at the World Championships, apart from being the Asian champion this year. He brings a style of wrestling that is full of attacks and counters. Unlike others, Daletbekov doesn't suffer from conditioning issues and can battle Karimi who last competed internationally at the Islamic Solidarity Games in August. He won the gold medal over Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE) at 86kg. But he will be tested against Dauletbekov who has constantly improved since making his World Championships debut in 2017.

Kyle SNYDER (USA)Kyle SNYDER (USA) won his third world title in Belgrade. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

97kg - Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) vs Kyle SNYDER (USA)

It's a bout that no one asked for, but every wrestling fan needed. World and Olympic champion Snyder can potentially wrestle two-time world champion Ghasempour. Snyder is a regular at 97kg while Ghasempour is jumping up from 92kg for the World Cup. Ghasempour won his second world title in Belgrade after a scintillating final against J'Den COX (USA).

Snyder also won the gold in Belgrade, five years since his last world title in Paris. Over the years, Snyder has ended up being the second best at 97kg and a bout against Ghasempour will throw up a new challenge for Snyder who won the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. No one has really managed to match his level since he won the first world title in 2015 apart from Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF).

Ghamespour produces some of the most controlled attacks in wrestling and has a solid defense as well. With some quick movements on the mat, Ghamespour appears to be an ideal wrestler but it will be a challenge for him to show up at 97kg against Snyder, a complete wrestler in his own form.