#WrestleBaku, #WrestleParis

Nine nations, 2 AINs win Paris 2024 quotas at European qualifiers

By Vinay Siwach

BAKU, Azerbaijan (April 5) -- Two months ago, Sergei SEMENOV (AIN) had pulled off one of the greatest wins in European history when he pinned Riza KAYAALP (TUR) in the 130kg final.

On Friday, Semenov continued his excellent form and qualified for the Paris Olympics 2024 from the European OG Qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Semenov was one of the two Individual Neutral Athletes who qualified for the Paris Games. Nine other countries shared the remaining 10 Greco-Roman spots on day one of the tournament.

Semenov, a two-time Olympic bronze medalist, controlled all three of his matches to win the spot. He blanked Dzmitry ZARUBSKI (AIN) 4-0 before holding off former world champion and London Olympics silver medalist Heiki NABI (FIN) 1-1.

In the Paris 2024 qualification bout, Semenov held off local favorite Beka KANDELAKI (AZE), 4-2, and silenced a loud Azerbaijani crowd at the National Gymnastics Center.

The second Paris 2024 quota at 130kg went to Jello KRAHMER (GER) who defeated three-time Olympian Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU), 6-1, in the semifinal.

Once he got the advantage in the first period, Krahmer asked to continue in standing instead of the usual par terre. Alexuc took the lead in the second period after Krahmer was called passive. But Alexuc failed to score any points.

As time was ticking, Krahmer managed to lock Alexuc's arm and threw him for a four-pointer which Romania challenged but lost, giving Krahmer a 6-1 win and a Paris 2024 quota.

Aleksandr KOMAROV (SRB) also continued his good form from Romania as the European champion made it look easy at 87kg and earned a Paris 2024 quota for Serbia. Up against former European champion Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN), who was coming back from a shoulder surgery, Komarov finished his bout against Bisultanov in just one minute and 23 seconds.

However, it wasn't a great start to the day as Komarov had to dig deep to win his opening bout against Ivan HUKLEK (CRO). Komarov fell behind 5-0 in the opening bout before using his strong gut-wrench to make a comeback and win 7-5.

Milad ALIRZAEV (AIN) got the second quota at 87kg after he defeated Kiryl MASKEVICH (AIN) 2-1 in a very close semifinal. Alirzaev earlier beat Exauce MUKUBU (NOR) 10-2 in a tense bout.

Tokyo Olympian Victor CIOBANU (MDA) qualified Moldova at 60kg after he defeated Hleb MAKARANKA (AIN), 9-1, in the semifinals. After giving up passivity in the second period, Ciobanu got the par terre advantage in the second and out came the reverse lift for four and flip for two more points to lead 7-1.

If Moldova allows Ciobanu to represent it in Paris, it will be the first time that a Moldovan Greco-Roman wrestler will be a two-time Olympian.

The other quota was secured by Enes BASAR (TUR), who had a field in Baku. He earned Turkiye the Paris spot at 60kg after beating Anvar ALLAKHIAROV (AIN) in the second semifinal at 60kg. After beating European champion and local favorite Nihat MAMMADLI (AZE) in the quarterfinal, Basar stunned Allakhiarov 3-2 in the semifinal. Allakhiarov had beaten Basar 10-9 in the 63kg quarterfinals at the European Championships in February.

At 67kg, Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Parviz NASIBOV (UKR) scored a late stepout to beat Krisztian VANCZA (HUN), 5-4, in the semifinal to earn a quota for Ukraine. Vancza had taken 4-4 lead before Nasibov found a way to score via stepout.

France will have their own as Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA) defeated Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL), 3-3, in a closely fought battle. Sylla scored his points in the second period which helped him secure the victory. This is the first time since the 2012 London Olympics that France has qualified in Greco-Roman.

Former world champion Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) turned up at 77kg and went home with the Paris 2024 quota for Turkiye. Up against the dangerous Alexandru GUTU (MDA) in the semifinal, Akbudak sneaked out a 10-8 win.

Akbudak scored three turns in par terre to lead 7-0 but Gutu blocked him in the last roll and then scored two more points. Akbudak led 8-5 at the break but Gutu scored three pushouts to tie it 8-8, However, Akbudak led on criteria, ultimately claiming the win.

Jonni SARKKINEN (FIN) got two four-pointers as he stunned Zoltan LEVAI (HUN), 9-0, to earn the other quota at 77kg.



60kg Paris 2024 Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Enes BASAR (TUR) df. Anvar ALLAKHIAROV (AIN), 5-2
SF 2: Victor CIOBANU (MDA) df. Hleb MAKARANKA (AIN), 7-1

67kg Paris 2024 Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Mamadassa SYLLA (FRA) df. Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL), 3-3
SF 2: Parviz NASIBOV (UKR) df. Krisztian VANCZA (HUN), 5-4

77kg Paris 2024 Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Jonni SARKKINEN (FIN) df. Zoltan LEVAI (HUN), 9-0
SF 2: Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR) df. Alexandrin GUTU (MDA), 10-8

87kg Paris 2024 Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Milad ALIRZAEV (AIN) df. Kiryl MASKEVICH (AIN), 2-1
SF 2: Aleksandr KOMAROV (SRB) df. Turpal BISULTANOV (DEN), 8-0

97kg Paris 2024 Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Mindaugas VENCKAITIS (LTU) df. Mihail KAJAIA (SRB), 5-2
SF 2: Roberti KOBLIASHVILI (GEO) df. Lucas LAZOGIANIS (GER), 2-1

130kg Paris 2024 Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Sergei SEMENOV (AIN) df. Beka KANDELAKI (AZE), 4-2


Golden hattrick for Kougiomtsidis, historic gold for Lefter at U23 Euros

By United World Wrestling Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan (May 25) -- Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE) seems to enjoy competing against Azerbaijani wrestlers.

In September last year at the World Championships, the former European champion got the better of Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) in the fifth-place bout to book his Paris Olympics quota. On Saturday, he underlined his preparedness for this summer’s Games by defeating another Azerbaijan wrestler, Ali TCOKAEV (AZE).

And in doing so, he completed a rare golden hat-trick. A U23 European champion in 2022 and 2023, Kougioumtsidis completed the ‘three-peat’ in style. The 22-year-old needed barely five minutes to reach the semifinals, where he had to dig into his experience to overcome rookie wrestler Arsen BALAIAN (AIN).

Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE)Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE) won his third successive U23 European Championships gold medal. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

In the final, Kougioumtsidis was up against the local hero Tcokaev. Only 21, the Azerbaijan wrestler was looking for his first-ever gold medal in this competition. Like his opponent, Tcokaev looked sharp coming into the final and he was the one making all the early moves. But in a blink of an eye, the wrestler from Greece turned the 79kg final on its head.

Kougioumtsidis was placed on the passivity clock just over a minute into the bout. That call seemed to have woken him up from his slumber. As the clock ticked down, Kougioumtsidis first went for Tcokaev’s left leg but the Azerbaijani was quick to defend. He then went for the right. This time, not only did he successfully execute the single-leg attack, but Kougioumtsidis also tripped him for a four-pointer.

Tcokaev tried making a comeback but Kougioumtsidis used his long limbs to keep his opponent at bay and closed out the match 4-1, not scoring any more points.

It was a statement win. But it also broke the hearts of the home fans who were expecting to see their wrestlers turn on the style on the penultimate day of the championships. Instead, they had to witness two Azerbaijani defeats in the finals.

Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN)Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN) won the 70kg gold medal after beating Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) in the final. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

Moments before Tcokaev lost to Kougioumtsidis, Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) was defeated 6-2 by Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN) in the 70kg final.

Sheriev’s was one of the three Individual Neutral Athletes who won gold medals on Saturday. The finals session on the second last day of championships began with Artem GOBAEV (AIN) beating Muhammet KARAVUS (TUR) 8-3 for the 57kg gold medal.

Gobaev was dominant throughout the final, deftly evading Karavus’s moves and launching vicious counterattacks to give his Turkish rival no chance of winning and being crowned as the U23 continental champion for the first time.

Ibragim IBRAGIMOV (AIN)Ibragim IBRAGIMOV (AIN) captured the 65kg title after beating defending champion Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA). (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

If Gobaev was patient enough to capitalize on his opponent’s mistakes, Ibragim IBRAGIMOV (AIN) was like a flashy sports car that takes less than 10 seconds to go full throttle.

Since winning the U23 World Championship title last year, Ibragimov hasn’t had a lot to show from his fledgling wrestling career. Big wins and titles have both been missing. That drought ended in Baku.

Ibragimov had spent less than 10 minutes on the mat on Friday to reach the final, scoring 21 points and allowing just one. But in Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA), he was up against the defending U23 European Championship gold medallist in the 65kg final.

He might not have won anything eye-popping of late, but Ibragimov didn’t look too overwhelmed by the quality of his opponent. The Frenchman was still to settle into the final when Ibragimov bent forward and got a grip of his leg for a swift two-point takedown.

The bout was only eight seconds old, but from that moment on, the writing was on the wall. Ibragimov kept chipping away constantly at his opponent to keep the scorecard ticking in his favor through a series of push-outs and passivity points Arsamerzouev conceded.

Eventually, in the battle between the U23 world champion, Ibragimov, and the U23 European champion, it was the former who prevailed 6-2.

Radu LEFTER (MDA)Radu LEFTER (MDA) celebrates after winning the 97kg gold medal, a first for Moldova at the U23 European Championships in Freestyle. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

Lefter wins historic gold

Radu LEFTER (MDA) will remember this day for a long time. Not only did he win his first gold medal at a championship, Lefter became the first wrestler from Moldova to win a Freestyle gold medal at the U23 European Championships after he defeated Soslan DZHAGAEV (AIN) in the final.

A two-time U23 World Championships silver medalist, Lefter got a huge baggage off his back after winning the gold in Baku. This was Lefter's fourth U23 European Championships where he has previously won a silver and two bronze medals. He also has a silver at the U20 and a bronze at the U17 European Championships.

In Baku, Lefter reached the final after two technical superiority wins but was challenged by Dzhagaev. He was put on the activity clock in the first period and trailed 1-0 at the break. But the second period was a completely different story.

Dzhagaev was put on the activity clock during which he hit a single-leg attack but Lefter countered it with exposure to get two points in addition to one after the activity clock expired to lead 3-1. With the clock ticking, Dzhagaev felt the pressure and made half-attacks, including an inside trip in the final 10 seconds which Lefter countered for a takedown and secure the historic win.

Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE)2022 U23 European champion Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) will look to win his second title on Sunday. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Jake Kirkman)

Gadzhiev, Magamadov eye titles

On the final day of the competition, former U23 European champion Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) will face Kamil ABDULVAGABOV (AIN) for the bragging rights in the 74kg.

Abdulvagabov had to overcome a tough opening round where he was stretched all the way by Irahim YAPRAK (TUR) before winning 5-4. After that initial hiccup, Abdulvagabov had little trouble beating other opponents, winning the quarterfinal by technical superiority and scoring a 7-3 win over Krisztian BIRO (ROU).

Gadzhiev’s route was a lot more straightforward wherein he didn’t have to survive any scares, scoring 28 points so far and conceding only 6.

The battle in the 86kg weight class, too, promises to be a mouthwatering as defending champion Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) will face Arslan BAGAEV (AIN). Only 20, Magamadov has a slew of titles to his name and will hope to add another U23 European title to his already impressive trophy cabinet.

In the 125kg class, Alen KHUBULOV (BUL) gave himself a fighting chance to win his first-ever gold medal at an international level after he reached the final, where he will face SOLOMON MANASHVILI (GEO).

Both wrestlers have had more or less an identical path to the final, with Khubulov playing an extra bout as he had to first compete in the qualifying round, which he convincingly won.



GOLD: Artem GOBAEV (AIN) df. Muhammet KARAVUS (TUR), 8-3

BRONZE: Luka GVINJILIA (GEO) df. Thomas EPP (SUI), 4-1
BRONZE: Vladyslav ABRAMOV (UKR) df. Herbert AKAPIAN (AIN), 8-3


BRONZE: Serghei CILCIC (MDA) df. Daniel KULCZYNSKI (POL), 4-0
BRONZE: Abdullah TOPRAK (TUR) df. Ayub MUSAEV (BEL), 3-2

GOLD: Inalbek SHERIEV (AIN) df. Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE), 6-2

BRONZE: Constantin CHIRILOV (MDA) df. Bohdan OLIINYK (UKR), 3-1


BRONZE: Radomir STOYANOV (BUL) df. Marius RETCO (MDA), 6-4

GOLD: Radu LEFTER (MDA) df. Soslan DZHAGAEV (AIN), 6-1

BRONZE: Rifat GIDAK (TUR) df. Ravan MUSAYEV (AZE), 2-2

Freestyle Semifinals


SF 1: Mykyta ABRAMOV (UKR) df. Nuraddin NOVRUZOV (AZE), 15-12
SF 2: Bashir MAGOMEDOV (AIN) df. Simone PIRODDU (ITA), 10-0


SF 1: Dzhabrail GADZHIEV (AZE) df. Luka CHKHITUNIDZE (GEO), 7-4
SF 2: Kamil ABDULVAGABOV (AIN) df. Krisztian BIRO (ROU), 7-3


SF 1: Arslan BAGAEV (AIN) df. Arsenii DZHIOEV (AZE), 5-1
SF 2: Rakhim MAGAMADOV (FRA) df. Emre CIFTCI (TUR), 11-0


SF 1: Adlan VISKHANOV (FRA) df. Mustafagadzhi MALACHDIBIROV (AIN), 10-4
SF 2: Gkivi BLIATZE (GRE) df. Ion DEMIAN (MDA), 4-2


SF 1: Alen KHUBULOV (BUL) df. Abdulla KURBANOV (AIN), 3-2
SF 2: Solomon MANASHVILI (GEO) df. Milan KORCSOG (HUN), 4-1