Russia Puts All 3 Women Into Semis; Renteria's Quest for More Olympic Glory Ends

By Ken Marantz

SOFIA, Bulgaria (May 7) -- A day after Russia assured it would send a full men's freestyle team to the Tokyo Olympics, the women have a chance to do the same with a task three times as hard.

All three Russian women advanced to the semifinals at the final world Olympic qualifying tournament on Friday in Sofia, Bulgaria, putting them one win away from securing berths at the Tokyo Games.

For two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jackeline RENTERIA (COL), the door to another Olympics was slammed shut when she fell 7-2 in the second round at 62kg to Kriszta INCZE (ROU).

Should Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) at 53kg, Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) at 57kg and Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) at 62kg be successful in the night session at the Arena Armeec Sport Hall, it will allow Russia to join Olympic host Japan, China and the United States as countries entered in all six women's weight classes in Tokyo.

Mongolia also has a chance to become a member of that elite group after Bolortuya KHURELKHUU (MGL) made it to the last four at 62kg, and did it in dramatic fashion.

Khurelkhuu was trailing 6-1 against Nathaly GRIMAN (VEN) with 1:14 left in their quarterfinal match when she used an arm drag to get behind, then levered her opponent over with a chicken wing to record a fall.

In the semifinal, Khurelkhuu will face Veranika IVANOVA (BLR), who stormed to an 11-0 technical fall over Mariana CHERDIVARA (MDA).

The other semifinal will pit Ovcharova, the 2019 world silver medalist at 59kg, against Luisa NIEMESCH (GER), who forced a stepout with :11 left to upend Berthe ETANE (CMR) 2-2 in the quarterfinals.

Ovcharova advanced with a victory by fall over Incze, this year's European bronze medalist at 65kg who couldn't replicate her giant-killing ways.

On Thursday, the Russian men completed the Olympic set in freestyle by filling the lone hole in the lineup at 125kg. The women came to Sofia with three places to fill, and their entrants have stepped up so far to the challenge.

Facing arguably the toughest task will be Chumikova at 57kg, as she has to face Grace BULLEN (NOR), who has been completely dominant in her quest to become just the second Norwegian woman in history to qualify for the Olympics.

Bullen, the 2020 European gold medalist and 2018 world U23 champion, opened her run by tearing apart Linda MORAIS (CAN), the 2019 world champion at 59kg. She then followed that with a 10-0 rout of 2020 European bronze medalist Sara LINDBORG (SWE).

Chumikova, this year's European silver medalist at 59kg, followed a technical fall with a 7-2 victory in the quarterfinals over 2019 European champion Emese BARKA (HUN).

"What can I say, today was great. I wrestled good," Chumikova said.

In the other 57kg semifinal, Giullia OLIVEIRA (BRA) will take on Mathilde RIVIERE (FRA). Oliveira advanced with a 16-5 technical fall over Nuraida ANARKULOVA (KGZ), while Riviere won her opening match 5-0 then received a bye in the semis because of a double forfeit in the other half of her quarterfinal bracket.

"I am very happy with my performance today and I really believe that all the work I have done until now will give me the result that I have always dreamed for," Oliveira said. "I have really wanted to go to the Olympics since I was a kid."

While Russia was putting three wrestlers into the quarterfinals, Venezuela, which has no places yet at Tokyo, became the only other country with more than one, with Betzabeth ARGUELLO (VEN) advancing at 53kg and Maria ACOSTA (VEN) at 76kg. Nineteen other countries have a single semifinalist.

Arguello defeated Sezen BELBEROVA (BUL) by fall to set up the showdown with Khoroshavtseva, who shrugged off giving up an early 4-point move before securing a lace lock and rolling to a 15-4 technical fall over Zeynep YETGIL (TUR).

The other 53kg semifinal will pit Samantha STEWART (CAN) against Andreea ANA (ROU).

Stewart, a bronze medalist at the Matteo Pellicone tournament earlier this year, chalked up a pair of technical falls, the second over Hilary HONORINE (FRA) to advance to the semifinals.

"Today has been really good and I am excited for this opportunity," Stewart said. "I have been training really hard for this. I am very focused on the next bout and I am planning like one takedown at the a time."

At 76kg, Acosta's path to Tokyo is currently blocked by Alla BELINSKA (UKR), the European champion at 72kg who will be aiming to give Ukraine a fifth women's berth. Acosta advanced with a 7-2 win over Patrycja SPERKA (POL), while Belinska topped Catalina AXENTE (ROU) 5-0.

Yasemin ADAR (TUR), the 2020 European silver medalist and 2019 champion, pinned 2019 world U23 and junior champion Milaimys MARIN (CUB) to make the other 76kg semifinal, where she will face Martina KUENZ (AUT), a 4-1 winner over Zsanett NEMETH (HUN).

That will be a rematch of their clash in the quarterfinals at the European Olympic qualifier in Budapest, which Kuenz won by fall after leading 9-5. That avenged two previous losses to Adar.

"I am here for the ticket and in the end it doesn't matter how I win the matches as long as I win them," Kuenz said. "Now I am wrestling in the Tokyo qualifying match. I am ready for it. Same thing, as long as I keep winning, I will be happy."

Kuenz said she does not feel pressure. "My mentality is my strength so I am just excited to fight again against the Turkish girl," she said. "In the last bout at European qualifier I won the match, and I am sure she is not excited about wrestling against me."

At 68kg, Rio 2016 Olympian Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE) has a chance to become the lone wrestler in Tokyo from her country when she faces 2020 European champion Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL).

Hanzlickova defeated Danute DOMIKAITYTE (LTU) 8-0, while Hristova followed an opening match fall with a 12-2 technical fall over Nisha DAHIYA (IND).

"I was nervous before my matches because this finger [left index] was injured before," Hanzlickova said. "And before the quarterfinal, I injured another one. I was nervous because of that.

"But right before the matches I felt good and confident and it went well. The quarterfinal was tough, but I was in control so I was able to win."

India will get a chance to pick up a fourth Olympic women's spot when Seema BISLA (IND) faces Anna LUKASIAK (POL) in the 50kg semifinals in a clash of continental bronze medalists.

The other berth will go to the winner between Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) and Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG).

Day 2 Results

Women's Wrestling


Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) vs Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG)

Seema BISLA (IND) df. Emma MALMGREN (SWE) by Fall, 5:16 (10-2)
Patricia BERMUDEZ (ARG) df. Mariana DRAGUTAN (MDA) by TF, 11-0, 4:22
Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) df. Julie SABATIE (FRA), 4-2


Andreea ANA (ROU) vs Samantha STEWART (CAN)

Samantha STEWART (CAN) df. Hilary HONORINE (FRA) by TF, 10-0, 2:49
Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) df. Zeynep YETGIL (TUR) by TF, 15-4, 3:32
Andreea ANA (ROU) df. Luisa VALVERDE (ECU), 7-0
Betzabeth ARGUELLO (VEN) df. Sezen BELBEROVA (BUL) by Fall, 4:21 (6-1)


Giullia OLIVEIRA (BRA) vs Mathilde RIVIERE (FRA)
Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) vs Grace BULLEN (NOR)

Grace BULLEN (NOR) df. Sara LINDBORG (SWE) by TF, 10-0, 3:51
Giullia OLIVEIRA (BRA) df. Nuraida ANARKULOVA (KGZ) by TF, 16-5, 4:36
Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) df. Emese BARKA (HUN), 7-2
Mathilde RIVIERE (FRA) won by default


Veranika IVANOVA (BLR) vs Bolortuya KHURELKHUU (MGL)

Bolortuya KHURELKHUU (MGL) df. Nathaly GRIMAN (VEN) by Fall, 5:03 (5-6)
Luisa NIEMESCH (GER) df. Berthe ETANE (CMR), 2-2
Veranika IVANOVA (BLR) df. Mariana CHERDIVARA (MDA) by TF, 11-0, 1:57
Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Kriszta INCZE (ROU) by Fall, 3:17 (6-0)



Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) df. Nisha DAHIYA (IND) by TF, 12-2, 2:13
Elis MANOLOVA (AZE) df. Luz VAZQUEZ (ARG), 2-2
Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) df. Dalma CANEVA (ITA) by TF, 10-0, 3:42


Yasemin ADAR (TUR) vs Martina KUENZ (AUT)

Alla BELINSKA (UKR) df. Catalina AXENTE (ROU), 5-0
Yasemin ADAR (TUR) df. Milaimys MARIN (CUB) by Fall, 1:40 (2-0)
Maria ACOSTA (VEN) df. Patrycja SPERKA (POL), 7-2
Martina KUENZ (AUT) df. Zsanett NEMETH (HUN), 4-1


Datunashvili Denies Rio champ Chakvetadze Ticket to Tokyo; Armenia Grabs 2 Greco spots

By Ken Marantz

SOFIA, Bulgaria (May 8) -- After appearing in two Olympics for his native Georgia, Zurabi DATUNASHVILI (SRB) will now get to represent his adopted country of Serbia. It took a victory over the defending Olympic champion to do it, and one that also spoiled Russia's perfect record in qualifying.

Datunashvili did what needed to be done to forge out a 1-1 victory on criteria over Rio 2016 gold medalist Davit CHAKVETADZE (RUS) in the semifinals at 87kg, earning his country one of the 12 Greco-Roman spots allocated at the final world Olympic qualifying tournament on Saturday night in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Both wrestlers were limited to a passivity point, but Datunashvili's came later to give him the victory as the semifinal winners in each of the six weight classes clinched tickets to Tokyo for their country.

In the last 10 seconds, the Georgian-born Chakvetadze got in on a body lock, but Datunashvili whizzered his way out of danger to give Serbia a third Greco spot at the Tokyo Games.

"It's been hard for me," said Datunashvili, who won his third career European championship this year and first for Serbia. "He is also a Georgian and I am, too. We wrestled in training when we were younger. This is the first time we met in a competition and I won."

Competing for Georgia, Datunashvili finished seventh at the London 2012 Olympics, then dropped to 18th four years later in Rio. He made his debut for Serbia last year.

"I had many problems in Georgia but Serbia adopted me," he said. "I say thanks to them."

For Russia, Greco 87kg will be the only weight class without an entry, after the country completed the sets in freestyle and women's wrestling on the first two days of the tournament.

In Greco, only Cuba will have the full six-member squad.

In the other 87kg semifinal, Ivan HUKLEK (CRO) stuffed a tiring Kristoffer BERG (SWE) on a back drop in the last 50 seconds for 2 points, then added a stepout for a 4-1 victory to give Croatia a second Olympic spot.

"I wrestled him in camp but this was the first time in competition," Huklek said. "This will be my first Olympics and I am going to take a medal from Tokyo."

Huklek added he was dedicating his triumph to his sister who died recently.

It was a good night for Armenia, which doubled its allotment of Greco places with victories by Armen MELIKYAN (ARM) at 60kg and Karen ASLANYAN (ARM) at 67kg. For both, the ability to convert in the par terre position became the difference between victory and defeat.

Melikyan coverted from the down position in the first period, then added a late takedown for a 5-2 victory over Hanjae CHUNG (KOR), one of just two Asians who appeared in the semifinals.

Both lost.

The other winner at 60kg was Victor CIOBANU (MDA), the 2018 world silver medalist who finally made it to the Olympics in his third try with a stunning victory by fall over Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO).

Ciobanu used an arm throw to get behind, and when Chkhartishvili tried to escape by sitting out, the Moldovan sucked him back to put him on his back, then clamped down for a fall at 2:11.

"This was so hard but I kept on fighting," Ciobanu said. "I just thought to continue wrestling and thank God I won in this manner."

Aslanyan's victory at 67kg came at the expense of Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA), as he was able to convert in par terre after his opponent couldn't for a 3-1 victory.

In the other semifinal, 2018 world junior bronze medalist Parviz NASIBOV (UKR) scored a pair of four-point moves in the first period of a 10-3 victory that denied Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN) a spot in the Olympics in his home country.

The Czech Republic became the 61st and last country to grab a ticket to Tokyo in wrestling when Artur OMAROV (CZE) secured one of the two places at 97kg.

Omarov, who finished third at at last December's Individual World Cup, outclassed Vilius LAURINAITIS (LTU) in an 8-0 technical fall in 5:12 that he capped with his third stepout point of the match.

A transplanted Georgian came out on the losing end in the other semifinal, in which Alex SZOKE (HUN) defeated Nikoloz KAKHELASHVILI (ITA) 6-1 after scoring a pair of two-point rolls from the par terre position.

"The scoreboard shows that it was an easy match but it was not easy," said Szoke, who finished second at the Individual World Cup. "It was hard but I was very strong mentally to win this and qualify."

Host Bulgaria came away with an Olympic spot at 77kg -- although there were no spectators at Arena Armeec Sport Hall to appreciate it -- when Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL) defeated Fatih CENGIZ (TUR) 3-2.

Mnatsakanian, a two-time world bronze medalist at 72kg, gave up a stepout and a passivity point before getting a takedown to go ahead on criteria. He received a passivity point in the second period then protected the lead to the end.

In the other 77kg semifinal, Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) scored a pair of takedowns in the first period and defeated former world champion Viktor NEMES (SRB) 4-1.

"This win is so hard for me because my opponent is a famous wrestler – world and European champion," said Huseynov, the 2020 European champion himself at 82kg and a former world silver medalist. "I am very happy to win this match.

"This is my first Olympics and I think I will be better there because after 2014 and after seven years, this is my first competition in this category."

For the 33-year-old Huseynov, much of the battle was with the scale in dropping to the lower weight.

"I reduced 12 kgs for this competition, but for the Olympics I will be good," he said. "I was very strong in March 2020 but then COVID happened. We had to wait. I was trying to go to 87kg, but we have strong wrestlers in that category. So I decided to drop to 77kg."

At 130kg, 2020 European champion Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) earned his third trip to the Olympics by putting up a solid wall of defense to shut out Rafal KRAJEWSKI (POL) 5-0.

Alexuc Ciurariu scored his first two points on passivity calls, and even though he could not convert in the par terre position, he put the match out of reach with a spin-behind takedown. An unsuccessful challenge added the final point.

"Not many people believed in me but I always believed that I would qualify," Alexuc Ciurariu said. "The bouts were very hard but I wanted to win."

In the final bout of the night at 130kg, Matti KUOSMANEN (FIN) defeated Mykola KUCHMII (UKR) 1-1 on criteria, with both points allocated for passivity.

Interestingly, Kuosmanen opted to remain on his feet in lieu of the par terre position. In the end, it neither helped nor harmed him, as neither wrestler could launch an effective attack.

Day 3 Results: Greco-Roman

60kg (25 entries)
SEMIFINAL - Victor CIOBANU (MDA) df. Dato CHKHARTISHVILI (GEO) by Fall, 2:11 (2-1)
SEMIFINAL - Armen MELIKYAN (ARM) df. Hanjae CHUNG (KOR), 5-2

67kg (26 entries)
SEMIFINAL - Karen ASLANYAN (ARM) df. Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA), 3-1

77kg (30 entries)
SEMIFINAL - Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) df. Viktor NEMES (SRB), 4-1

87kg (27 entries)
SEMIFINAL - Ivan HUKLEK (CRO) df. Kristoffer BERG (SWE), 4-1

97kg (21 entries)
SEMIFINAL - Artur OMAROV (CZE) df. Vilius LAURINAITIS (LTU) by TF, 8-0, 5:13

130kg (19 entries)