Akgul Bests Geno and Salkazanov Shocks 74kg Field in Warsaw

By Eric Olanowski

WARSAW, Poland (April 20) – In a colossal battle of titans, Taha AKGUL (TUR) avenged his ’19 world finals loss to Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) and kept his hopes of winning an eighth continental title alive.

The two superstars who have won every continental gold medal since the ’12 European Championships met early Tuesday morning in the opening round at European Championships in Poland’s Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa COS Torwar.

“My last match before surgery was against Geno, and my first match back was against Geno,” said the Rio Olympic champion who returned from a 15-month layoff after undergoing shoulder surgery last January. He continued, saying, “It’s been well over a year since I wrestled, but I felt good. I think it’s a good point to move forward to the Olympics and I’ll continue to train and hopefully get better before Tokyo.”

Akgul put on a near-flawless performance and controlled the match from whistle to whistle. He scored a trio of takedowns against the reigning three-time world champ – two of which came from go behinds off Petriashvili’s shot attempts – and won the match 6-1.

“For me, I don’t care too much about when Geno and I wrestle. I knew we were going to wrestle at some point during the competition, so It didn’t change much whether it was in the qualification round, semifinals or finals.”

Akgul continued to roll throughout the day and picked up wins against Kamil Tomasz KOSCIOLEK (POL) and Dzianis KHRAMIANKOU (BLR) en route to the 125kg finals where he’ll wrestle Russia’s Sergei KOZYREV (RUS).

Meanwhile, underdog Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) scored three shocking wins on Tuesday and punched his ticket to the 74kg finals. The former Russian-turned-Slovakian picked up wins over a two-time world champion, U23 world champion and world silver medalist.

After running through Switzerland’s Marc DIETSCHE, Salkazanov threw two-time world champion Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) to his back with less than 10 seconds left and won, 6-2. That set up a quarterfinals match against ’18 world silver medalist Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO).

Salkazanov trailed Kentchadze, 5-0, but scored six unanswered points in the second period and upset the Georgian Tokyo Olympian, 6-5. Then, in the semifinals, he erased a five-point deficit for a second consecutive match and moved into the finals with a surprising 6-5 win over tournament-favorite and Individual World Cup champion Razambek ZHAMALOV (RUS).

Salkazanov will square off with Miroslav Stefanov KIROV (BUL) on Wednesday night for 74kg gold.

On the finals side of the day, Zagir SHAKHIEV (61kg), Israil KASUMOV (70kg) and Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (97kg) finished atop the podium for the Russian Federation, while Nachyn MONGUSH (57kg) finished in second place.

Shakhiev slashed the title hopes of Poland’s battle-tested 30-year-old veteran Krzysztof BIENKOWSKI. After the heavy-footed Russian surrendered a takedown from a snatch single, he scored 13 unanswered points from two takedowns and four leg laces to win the 61kg title, 13-2.

The second Russian to hoist his nation’s flag was Israil Kasumov. The reigning Russian National champion had a slender 1-0 disadvantage after the first period but struck early in the second period with a stepout and a takedown. Despite leading by two points, Kasumov was never threatened offensively by Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE). Last year’s 12th-place European finisher played defense for the final two minutes and walked away with the 3-1 win.

Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) grabbed Russia’s third gold of the night. He stopped Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) from winning back-to-back European titles with a 6-4 victory.

In the opening period, Zhabrailov got to a low-level attack and chased down the ankles of Karadeniz. The pair went out of bounds and the Russian thought he had a takedown near the edge, but the refs had differing opinions. Zharailov’s corner threw the brick but lost the challenge and headed into the second period with the 2-1 advantage.

In the closing frame, Zhabrailov fired off an attack and transitioned to a gut wrench. He extended his lead to 6-2 before conceding a takedown but hung on to win 97kg gold, 6-4.

The other two golds on the night went to Suleyman ATLI (TUR) and Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK).

At 57kg, Atli wrestled until exhaustion and claimed his second European title in the last three years with a 6-5 win over Russia’s Nachyn Mongush.

“This gold medal shows me that I'm on the right track,” said Atli. “For me, it's one of the main stages before the Olympics. Now, I have a gold medal to win, and I'll be training more to win it.”

This is an improvement from his silver medal from a year ago, but the goal for Atli is to remain on top. “It is not important to become a champion, but to remain the champion.” He’ll have the opportunity to stay on top as he’s set to compete in three upcoming competitions before Tokyo. “I want to wrestle in as many tournaments as possible before the Olympic Games. I’d like to take part in the Polish Ranking Series event, the Ivan Yariguin and Yasar Dogu.”

Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) defeated Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA), 2-1, in the 79kg finals and became Slovakia's second-ever freestyle European champion. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

The final gold of the night went to Slovakia's Akhsarbek Gulaev. He planted Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA) on his back and had the French wrestler dead to rights but the clock expired and the Slovakian led, 2-1, heading into the final period. After a scoreless second period, Gulaev hung on to improve on his ninth-place finish from a year ago and became Slovakia's second-ever freestyle European champion.

Wrestling resumes tomorrow at 11:30 (local time) with women’s wrestling action. The freestyle medal matches are set to begin at 18:00.

Semifinal Results

GOLD - Andrii DZHELEP (UKR) vs. Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (RUS)
SEMIFINAL - Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (RUS) df. Eduard GRIGOREV (POL), 4-2

GOLD - Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) vs. Miroslav Stefanov KIROV (BUL)
SEMIFINAL - Miroslav Stefanov KIROV (BUL) df. Valentin BORZIN (MDA), 5-0



GOLD - Taha AKGUL (TUR) vs. Sergei KOZYREV (RUS)
SEMIFINAL - Sergei KOZYREV (RUS) df . Daniel LIGETI (HUN), 10-0

Final Results
GOLD - Suleyman ATLI (TUR) vdf Nachyn MONGUSH (RUS), 6-5
BRONZE - Kamil KERYMOV (UKR) df. Mikyay Salim NAIM (BUL), 9-4

GOLD - Zagir SHAKHIEV (RUS) df. Krzysztof BIENKOWSKI (POL), 13-2
BRONZE – Maxim SACULTAN (MDA) df. Andrei BEKRENEU (BLR), 5 - 2

GOLD - Israil KASUMOV (RUS) df. Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE), 3-1
BRONZE - Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM) df. Mihail SAVA (MDA), 4-3
BRONZE - Ihor NYKYFORUK (UKR) df. Nicolae COJOCARU (GBR), via inj. def.

GOLD - Akhsarbek GULAEV (SVK) vs. Saifedine ALEKMA (FRA), 2-1
BRONZE - Alans AMIROVS (LAT) vs. Rashad YUSIFLI (AZE), 4-3

GOLD - Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) df. Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR), 6-4
BRONZE - Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) df. Shamil ZUBAIROV (AZE), via fall

BRONZE - Radoslaw BARAN (POL) df. Murazi MCHEDLIDZE (UKR), 8-1


Evloev Captures Gold as Russia Clean Sweeps Euros

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (April 25) -- Musa EVLOEV (RUS) is quickly establishing himself as one of the Greco-Roman greats around the world.

Ever since he captured the World title in 2018, he continues to rise to the top and on Sunday, he took another step in that direction, winning his second European title at 97kg as the senior continental Championships came to a close in Warsaw, Poland.

The 28-year-old wrestled in the final bout of the day and it wasn't even a match. Veteran Balazs KISS (HUN) tried to give a fight but Evloev was in no mood to waste time. With a series of par terre rolls, Evloev captured the gold medal with a 10-0 win in just one minute and 33 seconds.

His gold confirmed the team title for Russia as it clean swept the Championships, winning the freestyle, women's and the Greco-Roman team titles over the past seven days at the Sportowa COS Torwar stadium which is out-of-bounds for spectators.

As Evloev ascends to the top, he will be the favorite to win the gold medal in Tokyo Olympics, a title he will have to take from Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM), just like the World title in 2018.

Aleksanyan captured the World and Olympic titles from 2014 to 2017 until Evloev defeated him in the semifinal at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest. Since then, Evloev has two more wins over the Armenian, one at the 2019 World Championships and the other at the Individual World Cup in Belgrade, Serbia last year.

Meanwhile, two-time junior world champion Kerem KAMAL (TUR) will have to wait for his first senior European Championships title. For the second consecutive year, he went home with a silver medal after he lost Sunday's final against Sergey EMELIN (RUS) 1-4.

Despite the aggression of Kamal, former world champion Emelin kept his composure throughout the 60kg final to reclaim his European title which he had lost to Victor CIOBANU (MDA) in 2019.

Sergey EMELIN (RUS) European Championships 2021

Emelin, who won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, was trailing 0-1 to Kamal at the break as he was warned for passivity. Kamal had a 5-0 lead after a big throw just before the break but a successful challenge from Russia showed there was no exposure, reversing the score to 1-0.

A minute and a half into the second period, Kamal was warned for passivity and Emelin scored on par terre, claiming a 3-1 lead. Kamal did try to score but was unsuccessful and with just two seconds left, he challenged for a point for stepout which was denied, giving the Russian the win and the first gold medal of the day.

The hopes of the home gold for Mateusz BERNATEK (POL) were dashed as Mate NEMES (SRB) dominated the final at 67kg to win the gold medal. Nemes gave his country the second gold medal in Warsaw after Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) won the gold at 87kg on Saturday.

Just 30 seconds into the final, Nemes came up with a big over the shoulder four-point throw to take the lead. With 30 seconds left for the break Bernatek was warned for passivity but he successfully defended his par terre position.

As Nemes closed-in on victory, he was warned for passivity and gave up two points for it. But as Bernatek tried desperate attempts, he was warned for using his head and penalized for two points. Nemes won the gold medal 7-2.

By winning the title, the 2019 bronze medalist from the Nursultan World Championships did what his twin brother Viktor NEMES (SRB), a former world champion, could not in three attempts.

Georgia also put its name on the title list with a gold medal at 72kg. Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) put on a defensive show to capture the gold by defeating junior world and European champion Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM) 4-1.

The Georgian Olympic bronze medalist rode on his luck in the final as he was awarded two points on a lost challenge from Armenia. After being called passive a minute and 17 seconds into the bout, Bolkvadze defended the par terre position. Amoyan almost got the exposure but it was given clean by the referee, prompting Amoyan to challenge the call.

Not only he lost the challenge, the jury decided to give two points to Bolkvadze for exposing Amoyan to his back, leading 3-1. A passivity against Amoyan increased the lead to 4-1 and Bolkvadze defended it till the end to win the gold medal for his country.

Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) European Championships 2021
Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) won the gold medal at 72kg in Warsaw. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Participating in the European Championships after a gap of four years, Adlan AKIEV (RUS) made a golden return as he became the champion of the 82kg category, giving Russia their second gold medal of the night.

After reaching his first-ever European final, Akiev finished things in style by winning the gold medal 11-1 against Radzik KULIYEU (BLR).

The deadlock was broken at 1:28 when Kuliyeu was given passive and Akiev got the exposure for two from a throw. A minute later, the Russian produced an over the shoulder throw to get two more and lead 5-0 at the break.

One minute and 20 seconds into the second period, Akiev was called passive but Kuliyev failed to get in correct position and the referee called for center, leaving the score 5-1 for Akiev.

A two-point exposure and a four-point move finished the bout with an 11-1 win for Akiev, which more or less confirmed the team title for Russia with one Evloev's gold medal bout yet to be played.

Adlan AKIEV (RUS) European Championships 2021

Greco-Roman Medal Results Day 7

GOLD - Sergey EMELIN (RUS) df. Kerem KAMAL (TUR), 4-1

BRONZE - Grzegorz KUNKEL (POL) df. Razvan ARNAUT (ROU), 6-0
BRONZE - Viktor PETRYK (UKR) df. MAKARANKA Bread (BLR), 5-1

GOLD - Mate NEMES (SRB) df. Mateusz BERNATEK (POL), 7-2

BRONZE - Murat FIRAT (TUR) df. Zaur KABALOEV (ITA), 3-1
BRONZE - Slavik GALSTYAN (ARM) df. Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), 9-0

GOLD - Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Malkhas AMOYAN (ARM), 4-1

BRONZE - Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) df. Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS), 3-0

GOLD - Adlan AKIEV (RUS) df. Radzik KULIYEU (BLR), 11-0

BRONZE - Aivengo RIKADZE (GEO) df. Karapet CHALYAN (ARM), 3-2
BRONZE - Hannes WAGNER (GER) vs. Rajbek Alvievich BISULTANOV (DEN), 3-1

GOLD - Musa EVLOEV (RUS) df. Balazs KISS (HUN), 8-0

BRONZE - Mikalai STADUB (BLR) df. Zamir MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 3-1