#WrestleBudapest: Akgul beats Petriashvili to capture ninth European title
Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 21:29 By Vinay Siwach
BUDAPEST, Hungary (March 30) -- It was a lasting image. Taha AKGUL (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) finished their 125kg final but had no energy to stand up for the winner's announcement. Instead, the two sat, perhaps admiring each other after another memorable chapter in their fancied rivalry. The embrace after the bout was even more emotional.
Akgul, the defending European champion, defeated Petriashvili, 5-2, in the 125kg gold medal bout at the European Championships in Budapest, Hungary. He won his ninth European title and extended his head-to-head record against the Georgian at the Continental Championships to 5-1.
Five wrestlers claimed gold on Wednesday night, but the biggest of the lot was the 125kg match-up. Akgul was under pressure after finishing with bronze at the Olympics and World Championships, while Petriashvili had won silver at those two events.
Akgul held the center in the first period while Petriashvili was satisfied to play it out. Akgul scored three step-outs and a takedown to lead 5-0 at the break. But Petriashvili leveled up in the second period. There were a few scrambles where Petriashvili nearly scored, but Akgul managed to sneak out.
The Rio Olympic champion went for a double leg, but Petraishvili countered that with a go behind and cut the Turkish legend's lead to 5-2. The Georgian finally had the break he wanted, but Akgul was determined to have the gold around his neck.
Taha AKGUL (TUR), blue, and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) after their 125kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
"It was my goal to come here and break my own record of eight European gold," Akgul said. "It was a great fight against a great wrestler."
The mutual admiration between the two was visible at the medal ceremony, where Petriashvili did not hesitate to congratulate Akgul for his ninth title.
The Tokyo silver medalist enjoys a superior record against Akgul at the World Championships and the Turkey legend hopes he can break that streak soon.
"It's always dramatic with Geno [Petriashvili]," Akgul said. "It's crazy that I keep beating him at the Europeans but he has a streak against me at the Worlds. So I will try to keep winning the gold at Euros and will soon break his streak against me at the World Championships."
But it will be interesting to see when Petriashvili steps on the mat again. After suffering a heartbreaking loss in the Olympic final in Tokyo, many questioned if he would call it quits. Instead, he tried to become a world champion in Oslo, which ended with a silver medal.
Silver in Budapest may be the final nail in the coffin for Petriashvili who stepped down from the podium waving to the small section of Georgian fans in the stands, thanking them for the support of one of Georgia's greatest ever wrestlers.
Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) added a senior European title to his U23 title. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Turkey won its second gold at 92kg when Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) defeated Ahmed BATAEV (BUL), 6-1, in the final. Akturk scored four step-outs and a takedown in a final, which he called 'exhausting.'
"I very proud to win and carry the [Turkey] flag," Akturk said. "The final was exhausting but with the gold medal, all the burden of the final fight fades away."
Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) defended his 74kg European title in Budapest. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
At 74kg, Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) defended his gold medal against two-time world champion Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) in a thrilling final, winning it 7-6 in the final second. Chamizo was set to win 5-5 on criteria, but Salkazanov managed to score a step-out before the clock expired to take the win.
The bout began with a big whizzer from Chamizo, which gave him four points. Salkazanov thought his opponent had stepped out and challenged the call. However, he lost the challenge, and Chamizo led 5-0.
But in the second period, Salkazanov scored an out-of-bounds takedown and then added another. He scored the first step-out with seven seconds remaining and then the final one at the end.
Despite his back-to-back golds, the Oslo silver medalist was not satisfied with his wrestling and thought he could have won it a little easier.
"I am not satisfied with my wrestling," Salkazanov said. "In the beginning, I made a mistake, but even after that I didn't give up, I believed that I could win till the very end. I saw he stepped out and it seemed to me that I got the point. When I threw the challenge, I was still ready to keep wrestling. I was thinking that even if I get that one point, it doesn't mean anything. I had to do my best on the mat. So, I made it happen. I tried hard to attack and I made it."
It was similar to their 1/8 final bout of the '21 European Championships in Warsaw and where Salkazanov scored a four-pointer in the final 10 seconds to beat Chamizo.
But Salkazanov, who lost to Kyle DAKE (USA) in the final in Oslo, wants to better his result at the World Championships in Belgrade later this year.
"My main goal is to become the world champion," he said. "Last year I was one step away from it. After that, I was so disappointed because I was supposed to win that match. I hope this year I will make it happen."
Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) won his second European gold. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) also won his second European gold medal as he defeated former world silver medalist Suleyman ATLI (TUR) in the 61kg final. In a dominating performance, Harutyunyan won, 15-3.
Harutyunyan caught Atli by surprise when he threw him for four and then leg laced to lead 6-0. Another single-leg takedown made it 8-0 but Armenia asked for another exposure and the win. He lost the challenge and Atli scored a takedown to cut the Armenian's lead to 8-3.
The U23 World champion went straight on the offensive in the second period and got the takedown, during which Atli called for a medical timeout. When the bout resumed, Atli was forced in par terre, and Harutyunyan managed to finish the bout 15-3 with two gut wrenches.
Myles AMINE (SMR) defeated Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE) in the 86kg final to claim the gold. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
San Marino wins first gold
Tokyo bronze medalist Myles AMINE (SMR) added another page to San Marino's wrestling history when he won the nation's first-ever European Championships gold by beating Oslo bronze medalist Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE), 9-5, in the final.
Amine, who finished second at the USA's NCAA final two weeks ago, performed with exceptional composure against Abakarov to secure the gold.
"He [Abakarov] is funky," Amine said. "I got in on that first shot and it felt too easy. His left leg is his best defense so I tried to get my attacks on his right leg and that kind of started working and I opened up my attacks. He was a guy that I had to adapt against otherwise I was going to probably lose that match."
Amine was leading 5-4 at one point, but then he scored two takedowns in the final two minutes to steer clear of any Abakarov comeback.
Since winning San Marino's first-ever Olympic medal in wrestling, Amine has been improving and looks to continue that.
"Two weeks ago, I had a tough loss in the final of NCAA," he said. "I beat the guy in the final of Big 10 Championships. I was excited to come and compete to put that loss behind me. As much as I say that I have to agree that in the last 10 months, I have been blessed by god.
"I will take a few weeks off and come back again because that worked after Olympics. Go back to the drawing board and see where I can improve. I am sure I need to improve my par terre."
GOLD: Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df Suleyman ATLI (TUR), 15-3
BRONZE: Eduard GRIGOREV (POL) df Besir ALILI (MKD), 12-2
BRONZE: Georgi VANGELOV (BUL) df Gamzatgadzhi KHALIDOV (HUN), via inj. def.
GOLD: Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), 7-5
BRONZE: Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) df Zurab KAPRAEV (ROU), 2-1
BRONZE: Giorgi SULAVA (GEO) df Hrayr ALIKHANYAN (ARM), 17-5
GOLD: Myles AMINE (SMR) df Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE), 9-5
BRONZE: Osman GOCEN (TUR) df Uri KALASHNIKOV (ISR), 8-8
BRONZE: Sebastian JEZIERZANSKI (POL) df Ivars SAMUSONOKS (LAT), 6-0
GOLD: Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) df Ahmed BATAEV (BUL), 6-1
BRONZE: Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE) df Damian IGLESIAS VILELA (ESP), 11-0
BRONZE: Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO) df Georgii RUBAEV (MDA), 7-2
GOLD: Taha AKGUL (TUR) df Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO), 5-2
BRONZE: Robert BARAN (POL) df Abraham CONYEDO RUANO (ITA), 3-2
BRONZE: Daniel LIGETI (HUN) df Magomedgadzhi NURASULOV (SRB), 6-4
GOLD: Miglena SELISHKA (BUL) vs Evin DEMIRHAN YAVUZ (TUR)
SF 1: Miglena SELISHKA (BUL) df Anna LUKASIAK (POL), 4-2
SF 2: Evin DEMIRHAN YAVUZ (TUR) df Emilia VUC (ROU), 8-5
GOLD: Andreea ANA (ROU) vs Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR)
SF 1: Andreea ANA (ROU) df Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA), 6-0
SF 2: Oleksandra KHOMENETS (UKR) df Bediha GUN (TUR), via fall
GOLD: Jowita WRZESIEN (POL) vs Anastasia NICHITA (MDA)
SF 1: Jowita WRZESIEN (POL) df Alyona KOLESNIK (AZE), 3-1
SF 2: Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) df Elena BRUGGER (GER), 8-0
GOLD: Irina RINGACI (MDA) vs Pauline LECARPENTIER (FRA)
SF 1: Irina RINGACI (MDA) df Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), via fall
SF 2: Pauline LECARPENTIER (FRA) df Natalia STRZALKA (POL), 3-2
GOLD: Epp MAEE (EST) vs Yasemin ADAR (TUR)
SF 1: Epp MAEE (EST) df Catalina AXENTE (ROU), 10-0
SF 2: Yasemin ADAR (TUR) df Bernadett NAGY (HUN), via fall