Olympians gear up for African & Oceania qualifiers for Paris 2024

By Vinay Siwach

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (March 19) -- Wrestlers from two continents will battle on the mat for 18 Paris Olympic spots at the African & Oceania OG Qualifiers in Alexandria on March 22-24.

All eyes will be on Tokyo Olympic medalists Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR) at 68kg in Women's Wrestling and Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) at 67kg in Greco-Roman. The two failed to earn a Paris quota at the World Championships in September but will be the favorite to claim the spot in Alexandria.

The tournament will follow a bracket system and two winners of the semifinals will earn the Paris spot. There will be no gold medal bouts and repechage.

Oborududu won the African Championships on Monday in dominating fashion and has the best chance to qualify. Samah ABDELLATIF (EGY), Tayla FORD (NZL) and African medalist Khadija JLASSI (TUN) will try to stop her and earn a quota for themselves.

For Elsayed, Ishak GHAIOU (ALG) will be the biggest test as he will be randomly drawn in the 67kg bracket. Japan-born Gaku AKAZAWA (SAM) will be seeded number two and cannot face Elsayed.

In other Women's Wrestling weight classes, African champion Mercy GENESIS (NGR) will be primed to win the semifinal at 50kg. Traditional powerhouses in Africa Egypt and Tunisia will be represented by Nada MOHAMED (EGY) and Nourhene HEDHLI (TUN) respectively.

At 53kgm Nigeria will see Christianah OGUNSANYA (NGR) going for the Paris spot. She won the African Championships gold medal on Monday but the addition of Oceania wrestlers can make things interesting. 

Jessica LAVERS MCBAIN (AUS) will be at 53kg for Australia while Guam has Mia AQUINO (GUM). Shaimaa MOHAMED (EGY) and Lobna ICHAOUI (TUN) will also look to win as well.

Nigeria already has won the quota at 57kg through world bronze medalist Odunayo ADEKOUROYE (NGR), leaving others to earn a Paris spot. Irene SYMEONIDIS (AUS), Natacha NABAINA (CMR), Louji YASSIN (EGY), Rckaela AQUINO (GUM) and Faten HAMMAMI (TUN) will have to fight it out for the two spots.

Marwa AMRI (TUN) usually locked the 62kg for Tunisia but the now-retired wrestler will be coaching Siwar BOUSETA (TUN) as she tries to fill the shoes. Esther KOLAWOLE (NGR) will be a big test for everyone in this weight class as she won the African Championships.

Two-time world medalist Samar HAMZA (EGY) will be looking for a second trip to the Olympics if she can win the 76kg spot in front of the home crowd. It could go three-way as African silver medalist Hannah RUEBEN (NGR) and now African champion Zaineb SGHAIER (TUN) are also entered.

Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY)Tokyo bronze medalist Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) is the favorite at 67kg. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan) 


Tokyo Olympian Abdelkarim FERGAT (ALG) will be tested by Moamen MOHAMED (EGY) and Mohamed HKIRI (TUN) as the three look to win the two spots available at 60kg in Greco-Roman.

Egypt and Algeria usually dominate Greco-Roman in Africa which will add pressure on Abd OUAKALI (ALG) and Mahmoud ABDELRAHMAN (EGY) who will be the favorite to win the Paris spot at 77kg. Sheng ZHANG (AUS) will be representing Australia.

Two Tokyo Olympians will have a chance to earn another trip to the Olympics as Bachir SID AZARA (ALG) and Mohamed METWALLY (EGY) gear up for a battle in 87kg. Both skipped the African Championships to prepare for the qualifiers.

At 97kg, Fadi ROUABAH (ALG), Mohamed GABR (EGY) and Mohamed MISSAOUI (TUN) have the best chance to win a spot while top seed Maulalo ALOFIPO (SAM) will look to get one through as only six wrestlers are entered in the weight category.

As Egypt already has a quota at 130kg, four wrestlers will battle for the two quotas in this weight class. Hemza HALOUI (ALG), Oussama ASSAD (MAR), Marcus CARNEY (NZL) and Tokyo Olympian Amine GUENNICHI (TUN) will face each other in a round-robin format to decide the two spots.

Amr REDA (EGY)Amr REDA (EGY) will look to repeat as an Olympian. (Photo: UWW / Bayrem Ben Mrad)


Egypt will hope to get all six Freestyle spots for Paris as it fields a strong team. Tokyo Olympian Amr REDA (EGY), backed by the home crowd in Alexandria, has his eyes set on the Paris spot in the 74kg weight class. Reda has proved on several occasions that he is a notch up the field in Africa. However, Bacar NDUM (GBS), a former African Championships silver medalist, will hope to get a spot even if he falls in the same bracket as Reda.

At 57kg, African champion Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) will be the favorite to win the spot along with Tokyo Olympian Abdelhak KHERBACHE (ALG). Gamal MOHAMED (EGY), Thomas SANTIAGO (GUM) and Suraj SINGH (NZL) will also fancy their chance to win a Paris spot.

Oceania Championships silver medalist Ethan AGUIGUI (GUM) pulled out of the qualifiers at 65kg. But Oceania champion Georgii OKOROKOV (AUS) will be a huge favorite to earn a quota. Omar MOURAD (EGY), Gaku AKAZAWA (SAM), who is also competing in Greco-Roman, and Sylvio DIATTA (SEN) can prove to be dark horses.

Australia can have a second Olympian from Alexandria if Jayden LAWRENCE (AUS) can bring out his best performance and earn a spot at 86kg. He also needs Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) to fall on the other side of the bracket.

Tokyo Olympian and African champion Benferdjallah has dominated the weight class in Africa and will look to earn a Paris quota for himself. Other names include Ahmed MAHMOUD (EGY) and Imed KADDIDI (TUN).

Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN) was in Tokyo and has a chance to be in Paris if he can earn a quota at 97kg in Alexandria. It will be a similar case for South Africa as former African silver medalist Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) hopes to win a quota.

Wali KEBIR (ALG), Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) and Anas SAMIR (MAR) will also hope to finish in the top two to earn a ticket.

The two wrestlers who won the 125kg quotas for Tokyo from continental qualifiers are back at it. Diaaeldin ABDELMOTTALEB (EGY) and Hamza RAHMANI (TUN) will be the favorite to win the two spots again.

#WrestleAlexandria, #WrestleParis

Samoa, Australia, South Africa end Olympic drought with Paris spots in Alexandria

By Vinay Siwach

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (March 24) -- Seven nations shared the 12 Paris Olympics Freestyle quotas on the final day of the African & Oceania OG Qualifiers in Alexandria.

Hosts Egypt led the way with four quotas while Australia and Guinea Bissau won two each. Samoa, Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria won one each to complete the line-up.

Samoa qualified for the first time in Freestyle as Gaku AKAZAWA (SAM) dominated his bouts to win the quota. Paris will also mark the first Samoan wrestler at the Olympics since Sydney 2000. Akazawa, a former Japanese high school star who moved to Samoa in 2017, defeated Wotna NDOC (GBS) via fall in the first period of the 65kg semifinal.

Georgii OKOROKOV (AUS) also ended an eight-year wait for Australia as he qualified at 65kg after winning the other semifinal. He defeated Manaceu NGONDA (ANG) 10-0.

A little later, Jayden LAWRENCE (AUS) earned a Paris quota at 86kg with a thrilling 4-4 win over Harrison ONOVWIOMOGBOHWO (NGR) in the semifinals. 

Onovwiomogbowho scored a takedown, earned another point for Lawrence's passivity and added a stepout to build a 4-0 lead in the semifinal. Lawrence put all his energy into scoring a takedown in the second period but found it difficult. He ultimately hit a cut back which made Onovwiomogbohwo fall on his back, giving Lawrence four points.

Lawrence kept his 4-4 criteria lead for the final two minutes and earned a Paris 2024 quota.

Tokyo Olympian Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) joined him as the qualified wrestler for Paris as he defeated Cedric ABOSSOLO (CMR) 7-0 and won the ticket.

South Africa will also be back in the Olympics after 16 years Nicholas de LANGE (RSA) qualified the country at 97kg after he defeated Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN)via fall. The former U20 world medalist convincingly won both bouts.

Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) was surprised by Wali KEBIR (ALG) who scored three points on Elders but the Egyptian never lost his cool and posted an easy 15-3 victory.

Egypt qualified three more weight classes, 57kg, 74kg and 125kg, with Amr REDA (EGY) leading from the front. The ever-consistent Reda took just 33 seconds after the first period to win the quota after beating Rayanne ESSAIDI (MAR), 11-0. His previous two wins of the day were via falls.

At 125kg, Diaaeldin ABDELMOTTALEB (EGY) survived a scare to beat Modou FAYE (SEN), 3-3, in the semifinals and qualify for the Games. He got a 1-0 lead after Faye was called passive but no additional points were scored in the first period.

Faye was put on the activity clock again in the second period this time he hit a single-leg attack to takedown. Abdelmottaleb was put on the activity clock late in the bout and failed to score, giving one more point to Faye who now led 3-1 with just over a minute left.

Abdelmottaleb scored a takedown using a go-behind to take a 3-3 criteria lead and defended it for the last 28 seconds to qualify for the Olympics.

Gamal MOHAMED (EGY) did not face any troubles as he won the 57kg place with an easy 8-0 win over KHALIL BARKOUTI (TUN) in the semifinal.

Two of the remaining three spots were captured by Guinea Bissau as Tokyo Olympian Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) won at 57kg, rolling to a 10-0 win over Suraj SINGH (NZL) while 74kg African champion Bacar NDUM (GBS) defeated Oyeinkeperemo BRAVEMAN (NGR), 10-2, in his semifinal.

The second 125kg quota was won by Ashton MUTUWA (NGR) who was involved in a high-scoring bout against Justin VAN ZYL (RSA) before winning via fall.



57kg Paris Olympic Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Diamantino IUNA FAFE (GBS) df. Suraj SINGH (NZL), 10-0

65kg Paris Olympic Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Georgii OKOROKOVV (AUS) df. Manaceu NGONDA (ANG), 10-0
SF 2: Gaku AKAZAWA (SAM) df. Wotna NDOC (GBS), via fall (4-2)

74kg Paris Olympic Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Amr REDA (EGY) df. Rayanne ESSAIDI (MAR), 11-0
SF 2: Bacar NDUM (GBS) df. Oyeinkeperemo BRAVEMAN (NGR), 10-2

86kg Paris Olympic Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Fateh BENFERDJALLAH (ALG) df. Cedric ABOSSOLO (CMR), 7-0
SF 2: Jayden LAWRENCE (AUS) df. Harrison ONOVWIOMOGBOHWO (NGR), 4-4

97kg Paris Olympic Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA) df. Mohamed SAADAOUI (TUN), via fall (5-2)
SF 2: Mostafa ELDERS (EGY) df. Wali KEBIR (ALG), 15-3

125kg Paris Olympic Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Diaaeldin ABDELMOTTALEB (EGY) df. Modou FAYE (SEN), 3-3
SF 2: Ashton MUTUWA (NGR) df. Justin VAN ZYL (RSA), via fall (16-8)