Chakvetadze Lone Olympic Medalist of 3 to Reach Greco Semis
Saturday, May 8, 2021 - 15:11 By Ken Marantz
SOFIA, Bulgaria (May 8) --- Of the three Olympic medalists in action on Saturday, only Davit CHAKVETADZE (RUS) still has a chance to pick up more of the shiny hardware in Tokyo this summer.
Chakvetadze advanced to the semifinals at 87kg as the Greco-Roman competition got underway in the six Olympic weight classes at the final world Olympic qualifying tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Chakvetadze, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion at 85kg, will face Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) -- a fellow Georgian native who now competes for another nation -- for the ticket to Tokyo that will go to each semifinal winner in the night session at the spectator-less Arena Armeec Sport Hall.
Chakvetadze will also be looking to fill the lone remaining Olympic berth for Russia, joining Cuba as the only nations with six entrants in Greco. Over the past two days in Sofia, the European powerhouse completed its Olympic lineup in freestyle and women's wrestling.
Datunashvili, the newly minted European champion, spoiled Iran's bid to also have a full Greco lineup in Tokyo when he edged Asian gold medalist Naser ALIZADEH (IRI) 1-1 on last-point criteria.
"All of today's bouts were hard for me, but right now I am feeling good after winning the quarterfinal," Datunashvili said. "I have one more match and I am prepared to win it. Hard work, that's my secret."
In the other semifinal at 87kg, Kristoffer BERG (SWE) will face Ivan HUKLEK (CRO) after knocking off two-time former world champion Metehan BASAR (TUR) 3-2 by getting a takedown while going out of bounds with :58 left. Huklek advanced with a 9-0 technical fall over Petr NOVAK (CZE).
"I have been wrestling well but I am only getting started," Berg said. "Most important thing is still left and I can evaluate after that. I am trying to remain calm like I have been throughout the day."
Rio 2016 bronze medalist Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE) saw his Tokyo Olympic hopes dashed when he came out on the short side of a 3-2 decision to Parviz NASIBOV (UKR), who made his go-ahead takedown late in the first period hold up for the victory.
Chunayev, a two-time world medalist, had barely survived a qualification round clash with Donior ISLAMOV (MDA), as his early 4-point headlock proved the difference in a 4-4 victory on criteria.
Nasibov will next face Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN), who will attempt to give the Olympic host a third Greco spot. Takahashi, a 2019 Asian bronze medalist, is one of just two Asians to make it to the semifinals; Europeans filled all of the other berths, spread out over 20 countries.
"I want to emerge with a win using Japanese-style wrestling," said Takahashi, who defeated Aliaksandr LIAVONCHYK (BLR) 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
The other 67kg semifinal will pit three-time European bronze medalist Karen ASLANYAN (ARM) against Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA), after both ousted Asian opponents in the quarterfinals.
Aslyanyan defeated Asian bronze medalist Amantur ISMAILOV (KGZ) 10-5, while Sylla held on for a 5-2 victory over Asian silver medalist Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ), a two-time world medalist who failed in a bid to appear at a third Olympics.
The third Olympic medalist to fall was Stig-Andre BERGE (NOR), and the Rio bronze medalist's exit at 60kg came early on with a 4-1 loss in the qualification round to Murad MAMMADOV (AZE).
Mammodov will also be no more than a spectator during the Olympics, as his tournament ended with a 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals to Hanjae CHUNG (KOR), an Asian bronze medalist at 63kg.
Chung's path to Tokyo will have to go through 2019 world U23 champion Armen MELIKYAN (ARM), who defeated European bronze medalist Razvan ARNAUT (ROU) 3-1.
Earlier, Arnaut chalked up a 3-1 win over Michal TRACZ (POL), who will have to wait three more years to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and coach, three-time Olympic medalist Jozef TRACZ.
Former world silver medalist Victor CIOBANU (MDA), making his third attempt at qualifying for the Olympics, moved closer when he advanced to the other 60kg semifinal with a display of big throws, routing Firuz MIRZORAJABOV (TJK) by 14-0 technical fall.
Ciobanu will face Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO), a two-time European bronze medalist who edged Ivo ANGELOV (BUL) 2-1 in the quarterfinals.
The 77kg division was deprived of what would have been a fourth Olympic medalist, as 2012 Olympic champion and 2016 bronze medalist Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR) had to withdraw due to a pandemic-related issue.
There is no shortage of top-level wrestlers to fill the void, including Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE), the 2020 European champion at 82kg who got the bye left by Kim's absence and ran with it all the way to the semifinals with a pair of a technical falls.
Huseynov will face a formidable foe for the Olympic ticket in Viktor NEMES (SRB), who placed eighth at the Rio Games.
"I know him very well and I think he is a very good wrestler," Huseynov said. "But as they say, may the best wrestler win on the mat."
Nemes advanced with a 2-0 victory over Viktar SASUNOUSKI (BLR), with whom he was a co-bronze medalist at the 2018 World Championships.
"The journey has been long," Nemes said. "The World Championships in 2019 and there also I was a match away from qualifying for the Olympics. But I think now I am in good form."
Nemes said that he is focused on avoiding the mistakes that cost him at the European Olympic qualifer, where he placed third. And he has a score to settle.
"I wrestle the Azerbaijan guy and I want revenge a loss from the 2013 World Championships as he won. It's time for revenge and going to the Olympics with my twin brother," he said, referring to sibling Mate, who qualified for Tokyo at 67kg by placing third at the 2019 World Championships.
In the other 77kg semifinal, two-time world bronze medalist Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL) will clash with 2017 world U23 champion Fatih CENGIZ (TUR).
Another native Georgian will get a chance to represent his adopted country at 97kg, where European silver medalist Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) advanced to the semifinals by edging 2017 European champion Felix BALDAUF (NOR) 2-1. He will face Alex SZOKE (HUN), a 9-0 technical fall winner over Jesus GASCA (ESP).
Vilius LAURINAITIS (LTU) and Artur OMAROV (CZE) will battle in the other semifinal. Laurinaitis made it through with a nail-biting 4-4 win over veteran Melonin NOUMONVI (FRA), with his early 4-point arm throw giving him the edge on criteria.
The 38-year-old Noumonvi had been aiming to appear at a fourth career Olympics -- and that's after missing out on Rio 2016. The 2014 world champion made his Olympic debut at Athens 2004, and finished fifth at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
At 130kg, 2020 European champion Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) will take on Rafal KRAJEWSKI (POL), while Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN) will face Mykola KUCHMII (UKR) in a battle of European bronze medalists from the past two years.
Alexuc Ciurariu eked past Asian silver medalist Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) 1-1 before scoring a 10-1 technical fall over Arata SONODA (JPN) in the quarterfinals.
Day 3 Results
60kg (25 entries)
Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO) vs Victor CIOBANU (MDA)
Armen MELIKYAN (ARM) vs Hanjae CHUNG (KOR)
Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO) df. Ivo ANGELOV (BUL), 2-1
Victor CIOBANU (MDA) df. Firuz MIRZORAJABOV (TJK) by TF, 14-0, 1:58
Armen MELIKYAN (ARM) df. Razvan ARNAUT (ROU), 3-1
Hanjae CHUNG (KOR) df. Murad MAMMADOV (AZE), 2-1
67kg (26 entries)
Karen ASLANYAN (ARM) vs Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA)
Parviz NASIBOV (UKR) vs Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN)
Karen ASLANYAN (ARM) df. Amantur ISMAILOV (KGZ), 10-5
Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA) df. Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ), 5-2
Parviz NASIBOV (UKR) df. Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE), 3-2
Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN) df. Aliaksandr LIAVONCHYK (BLR), 2-1
77kg (30 entries)
Viktor NEMES (SRB) vs Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE)
Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL) vs Fatih CENGIZ (TUR)
Viktor NEMES (SRB) df. Viktar SASUNOUSKI (BLR), 2-0
Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) df. Abd OUAKALI (ALG) by TF, 9-0, 2:39
Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL) df. Bakuri GOGOLI (GEO), 6-2
Fatih CENGIZ (TUR) df. Paulius GALKINAS (LTU), 7-1
87kg (27 entries)
Davit CHAKVETADZE (RUS) vs Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB)
Ivan HUKLEK (CRO) vs Kristoffer BERG (SWE)
Davit CHAKVETADZE (RUS) df. Michael WAGNER (AUT), 6-0
Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) df. Naser ALIZADEH (IRI), 1-1
Ivan HUKLEK (CRO) df. Petr NOVAK (CZE) by TF, 9-0, 2:20
Kristoffer BERG (SWE) df. Metehan BASAR (TUR), 3-2
97kg (21 entries)
Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) vs Alex SZOKE (HUN)
Vilius LAURINAITIS (LTU) vs Artur OMAROV (CZE)
Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) df. Felix BALDAUF (NOR), 2-1
Alex SZOKE (HUN) df. Jesus GASCA (ESP) by TF, 9-0, 2:09
Vilius LAURINAITIS (LTU) df. Melonin NOUMONVI (FRA), 4-4
Artur OMAROV (CZE) df. Peter OEHLER (GER), 3-2
130kg (19 entries)
Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) vs Rafal KRAJEWSKI (POL)
Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN) vs Mykola KUCHMII (UKR)
Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) df. Arata SONODA (JPN) by TF, 10-1, 4:30
Rafal KRAJEWSKI (POL) df. Beka KANDELAKI (AZE) by Fall, 1:52 (4-4)
Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN) df. Radoslav GEORGIEV (BUL), 1-1
Mykola KUCHMII (UKR) df. Adam COON (USA), 6-3