Watari, Sukhee, Chimdee, Mongolia, Japan, female wrestling, Rahimi

World Champs Showcase Opening Day of Asian Games Wrestling

By William May

INCHEON, Korea (September 27) – World champions Eri TOSAKA (JPN) and SUN Yanan (CHN) appear headed for a showdown at 48kg on the opening day of wrestling competition at the Asian Games on Saturday.

Meanwhile, 2013 world champion Hassan RAHIMI (IRI) looks forward to a likely replay of last year’s championship final with Amit KUMAR (IND) at 57kg at Dowon Gymnasium in central Incheon, Korea.

Also featured in Saturday’s world champion showcase will be SUKHEE Tserenchimed (MGL), who won the 60kg crown in female wrestling at the world championships in Tashkent earlier in the month.

The only weight category without a world champion to be contested on the first day is 70kg in men’s freestyle, where world bronze medalist Bekzod ABDURAKHMANOV (UZB) could face a rematch with Mostafa HOSSEINKHANI (IRI) in the semifinals.

Female Wrestling

48kg – Tosaka repeated as 48kg world champion in Tashkent, while 2013 world champ at 51kg Sun was largely inactive this year – except for a World Cup appearance in which she was edged 6-4 by Tosaka. 

Yun opens in the top half of the bracket with Asia champion Tatyana AMANZHOL (KAZ), while Tosaka faces a potential quarterfinal pairing with Asian runner-up ERDENESUKH Narangerel (MGL) and a semifinal showdown with 2013 Asia champion PAK Yong-Mi (PRK).

63kg – Sukhee’s biggest obstacle to reaching the finals could well be Rio WATARI (JPN), who will try to show she is better than her one-and-done showing in Tashkent against former world champion SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL).

From the lower half of the bracket, 2013 Asia champion XILUO Zhuoma (CHN) and 2013 world bronze medalist Ekaterina LARIONOVA (KAZ) could meet in the semifinals for a chance to meet Sukhee. 

Men’s freestyle

57kg – Former world champion Hassan RAHIMI (IRI) slipped to a bronze medal in Tashkent after a criteria loss to 2009 world champ YANG Kyong-Il (PRK). He opens his bid for an Asian Games gold medal with Asian championship bronze medal winner Samat NADYRBEK UULU (KGZ). 

Rahimi could face Asian champion Rasul KALIEV (KAZ) in the semifinals for a chance to face the survivor of the crowded upper-half of the bracket.

Amit KUMAR, 2013 world runner-up, leads off with Asian bronze medalist Fumitaka MORISHITA (JPN), while Yasar Dogu winner BATBOLD Nomin (MGL) would square off with JONG Hak-Jin (PRK).

Jong won the Takhti Cup tourney in February ahead of Kaliev, world champ teammate Yang and Batbold. 

70kg – After a bronze medal in Tashkent, Abdurakhmanov looks forward to his first win at a major international event but will likely have to get by Asian champion Hosseinkhani in the semifinals. Abdurakhmanov won by criteria over Hosseinkhani on a late takedown in Tashkent.

Abdurakhmanov, however, cannot look past Asian runner-up Somirsho VOKHIDOV (TJK).


All-World team ready for World Cup challenge

By Vinay Siwach

CORALVILLE, Iowa (December 6) -- A world champion, five multiple times world medalists and two medalists from the 2022 World Championships.

A 10-member All-World team will descend upon Coralville for the freestyle World Cup on December 10 and 11 at the Xtreme Arena and if all works out, will be a serious threat for the title.

The 2022 World Cup is the first time that an All-World team is going to participate in the tournament. It comprises the top finishers in each weight class from Belgrade who are not part of the five teams which qualified directly.

The USA, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, and Georgia were the top five teams at the World Championships and gained automatic qualification for the World Cup. But the All-World looks a formidable unit.

Led by world champion Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (UWW) at 57kg, it has two-time silver medalist Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (UWW) at 74kg, another Slovakian and silver medalist in Batyrbek TSAKULOV (UWW) at 97kg, two young bronze medalists from Belgrade in Ernazar AKMATALIEV (UWW) at 70kg and Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (UWW) at 92kg.

Two-time world bronze medalist Iszmail MUSZUKAJEV (UWW) will be at 65kg with bronze medalists at 79kg Arsalan BUDAZHAPOV (UWW) and Azamat DAULETBEKOV (UWW) at 86kg adding more firepower to the squad. Tokyo Olympian Georgi VANGELOV (UWW) at 61kg and Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UWW) at 125kg complete the team.

The All-World team is placed in Group B with Iran and Japan and is likely that it will finish at the top of the standing and wrestle in the final.

Opening its campaign against Japan, the All-World team will be a heavy favorite. Japan is missing both its world champion, Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) and Taishi NARIKUNI (JPN), from the line-up and has sent a relatively young team.

But the All-World team will bank on Abakarov, Muszukajev, Akmataliev, Salkazanov and Nurmagomedov to give the team an outright win.

Japan is also unlikely to win against Iran making the All-World vs Iran match late on Saturday a virtual semifinal.

"Our preparation is very good," Akmataliev said. "We were supposed to hold a camp in America but it did not go through. So, we are preparing in Bishkek. Saturday will show on the mat."

Akmataliev is one of the most exciting wrestlers around the world with clutch performances, especially in come-from-behind wins. He will be expected to win all his bouts in Coralville. And he hopes the team will also be able to do the same.

"I was very happy when I received the invite for the world team," he said. "Our team is very strong, and we will show our potential. We can beat all the other teams.

"Our wrestlers are best in their weight classes and if we can come together as a team, we will be champions," he added.

Akmataliev hopes to wrestle the USA in the final but is aware of the threats Iran and Japan pose in the group stage.

"I cannot say that one team is weak or strong," he said. "Every opponent is strong, and I will treat every bout as the final and try to win"

If the USA and All-World team do meet in the final, expect a neck-to-neck battle with both teams equally good enough to win.

If Abakarov can give a winning start to the All-World team, it will be Vangelov up against Seth GROSS (US) at 61kg and a fan-favorite bout between Muszukajev and John DIAKOMIHALIS (USA) at 65kg. Akmataliev holds the upper hand against Tyler BERGER (USA) with Salkazanov and Jason NOLF (USA) at 74kg.

Salkazanov needs to win even if Budazhapov loses to Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) at 79kg. Dauletbekov up against Zahid VALENCIA (USA) at 86kg will be a crucial match-up for both teams as Numagomedov is expected to win against Nathan JACKSON (USA). Kyle SNYDER (USA) has the upper hand at 97kg against Tsakulov in the World Championships final rematch. The All-World team will need Khotsianivskyi to win at 125kg against Hayden ZILLMER (USA).

In all likelihood, it will end with five wins for both teams and the team with more classification points winning the World Cup.