Stadnik Thrives in Return; Akgul Wins 8th Euro Title

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (April 21) -- After 581 days off the mat, Maria STADNIK (AZE) began where she left in Nursultan. If the World Championships in 2019 were a display of her strength, she put on a show of her speed on Wednesday to reach the final of the European Championships in Warsaw.

Stadnik looked as good as ever and showed why she remains the top wrestler in the continent as she set up the '19 European gold-medal rematch against Miglena SELISHKA (BUL).

Russia sent four of their wrestlers to the finals as women's wrestling began at the spectator-less Hala Widowiskowo-Sportowa COS Torwar stadium in Warsaw on Wednesday.

Stadnik began her day against world bronze medalist Ekaterina POLESHCHUK (RUS) and while it looked like a tough bout on paper, the world champion did not think so. She got a point for Poleshchuk's inactivity and later a takedown to lead 3-0. A double for four points gave her a 7-0 lead before she finished with a counter to win, 11-0.

The two semifinals at 50kg went back-and-forth before the winners prevailed. The first semifinal proved to be more challenging for Stadnik as Oksana LIVACH (UKR) kept coming at her until the end. After securing four points early in the first period, Livach got Stadnik in a headlock and threw her for a four. A stepout helped Stadnik regain her lead.

In the second period, Stadnik scored a point for stepout to lead 6-4 but Livach made a desperate attempt at the end. Stadnik was quick to counter for a takedown and a gut wrench to win, 10-4, and reach the final.

Selishka needed a last-second takedown and a challenge to beat Emilia BUDEANU (MDA), 3-3, and reach her second consecutive Euro final. Trailing 3-1, she scored via a go behind with Budeanu's knee touching the mat for a split second. The referees did not score the scramble but a challenge from Bulgaria's corner saved the day for Selishka 3-3 on criteria.

She will be aiming to defend her title on Thursday which she won in Stadnik's absence last year in Rome.

But another defending champion was not so lucky with criteria. Anastasia NICHITA (MDA) suffered a shocking 4-4 loss in the 59kg semifinal against Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS). Nichita was the favourite to win the gold medal in Warsaw and was well on course until the Russian roadblock.

The Tokyo Olympian was leading 3-2 when Chumikova launched a double on her. Despite a cartwheeling effort from Nichita, Chumikova was awarded four points while two were given to Nichita.

A challenge from Nichita saw the score being reversed to 4-4 with Chumikova holding criteria as she had four points via two takedowns. With :46 remaining on the clock, Chumikova managed to hold off Nichita and reach her first European final.

The Russian will be up agaisnt the silver medalist from last year Bilyana DUDOVA (BUL). In the semifinal, Dudova completed a 2-1 win over Yuliya PISARENKA (BLR) with all three points coming for passivity.

Nichita had earlier ended the hopes of Grace BULLEN (NOR) becoming a European champion for the third time with a 7-0 win. Dominating the quarterfinal, Nichita gave Bullen no chance to score. With Nichita's loss later in the day, Bullen won't be able to compete in the repechage as well.

Warsaw saw more young talent reaching the finals as Koumba LARROQUE (FRA) and Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) set up the summit clash at 68kg. The France wrestler could not have asked for a better day as she won her two bouts via fall and technical superiority, respectively.

Thursday's final will be a rematch from the European Olympic Qualifier event in Budapest last month. For the record, Velieva had forfeited the final in Budapest citing injury but the defending champion at Euros will in all likelihood try to keep her gold with her.

At 76kg, two-time Olympic medalist Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) defeated Aline FOCKEN (GER) and Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR) in consecutive bouts to reach the final of 76kg. She will take on world bronze medalist Epp MAEE (EST) on Thursday.

At 55kg, Stalvira ORSHUSH (RUS) made it to the final at 55kg where she will wrestle local wrestler Roksana ZASINA (POL).

Salkazanov ends dream run with gold

Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) capped off his dream run in Warsaw with a gold medal at 74kg. Wrestling at his second European Championships, Salkazanov entered the final after coming out from the lower side of the brack which had two world champions and a silver medalist.

Salkazanov had scored three come-from-behind victories coming into the final on Wednesday but it was a one-sided affair against Miroslav KIROV (BUL) as he won 10-0 to capture the gold medal.

On Tuesday, the Slovak defeated Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), 6-2, before erasing a five-point deficit in the quarterfinal against Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) to win 6-5. He then defeated the Individual World Cup champion Razambek ZHAMALOV (RUS) with an identical score in the semifinal.

Surprisingly, Salkazanov is yet to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo as he finished 13th in Budapest last month. The World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria can see him fulfill his dream.

Salkazanov Slovakia European Championships 2021

The two bronze medals at 74kg went to Mitchell FINESILVER (ISR) and Chamizo. Finsilver cruised to a 4-0 victory over Valentin BORZIN (MDA) to capture the bronze medal, Israel’s first freestyle European medal in the last 30 years. The last wrestler from Israel to medal at the European Championships was Maxim GELLER (ISR), who finished in second place at the 1991 European Championships in Stuttgart, Germany.

In a rematch of the Individual World Cup final in Belgrade, Serbia last year, Chamizo avenged his loss with a 5-1 win over Zhamalov. Putting up a defensive masterclass, Chamizo did not let the Russian score from any position despite being in trouble a couple of times.

He scored his points via two pushouts, a double leg and a penalty to Zhamalov for stopping the action, citing a shoulder injury. He was visibly in trouble with his shoulder but continued to wrestle despite his coach asking him to stop.

While Salkazanov captured his first title, veteran wrestler at 125kg Taha Akgul won his eighth European title in the last 11 years. In a final that saw Sergei KOZYREV (RUS) being cautioned out, Akgul looked a fitter, better version of himself at the surgery which kept him out for close to two years.

"I am really happy to comeback after the injury and beat the top four wrestlers to win the gold. It's very positive and motivating," Akgul, the Rio gold medalist, said after the final. "I will decide with my coaches where we will compete again. We are just months away from the Olympics and there is not much time."

Taha Akgul European Championships

Coming into the Championships, Akgul's biggest rival was '19 world champion Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO), who he met in the first round. Akgul's sharpness and speed were too much for Petriashvili as he won, 6-1. Akgul then easily made it past Kamil Tomasz KOSCIOLEK (POL) and Dzianis KHRAMIANKOU (BLR).

Petriashvili returned to win the bronze medal after he defeated Khramianku (BLR) in a closely contested bronze medal bout. The Georgian won, 12-9. The second bronze went to Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR) as he defeated Daniel LIGETI (HUN) 5-0.

Russia captured three gold medals on the final day for freestyle. Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (RUS) was the first champion of the day as he rolled over Andrii DZHELEP (UKR) for a 12-2 win at 61kg.

The two bronze medals at this weight were won by Eduard GRIGOREV (POL) as he defeated Georgi VANGELOV (BUL). The second medal was captured by world champion Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) after a thriller against Akhmednabi GVARZATILOV (AZE) which he won 9-7.

Russia's two other gold medals came via Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) and Magomed Guseynovitch KURBANOV (RUS) at 86kg and 92kg, respectively.

The six gold medals in Warsaw helped Russia win the team title while Ukraine and Azerbaijan finished in second and third, respectively.

Freestyle Results (Day 3 Photo Gallery)

GOLD - Abasgadzhi MAGOMEDOV (RUS) df. Andrii DZHELEP (UKR), 12-2

BRONZE - Eduard GRIGOREV (POL) df. Georgi Valentinov VANGELOV (BUL) , 4-2
BRONZE - Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) df. Akhmednabi GVARZATILOV (AZE) , 9-7

GOLD - Tajmuraz Mairbekovic SALKAZANOV (SVK) df. Miroslav Stefanov KIROV (BUL), 10-0

BRONZE - Mitchell Louis FINESILVER (ISR) df. Valentin BORZIN (MDA), 4-0


BRONZE - Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR) df. Boris MAKOEV (SVK), 6-4

GOLD - Magomed Guseynovitch KURBANOV (RUS) df. Samuel SCHERRER (SUI), 4-1


GOLD - Taha AKGUL (TUR) df. Sergei KOZYREV (RUS), via DSQ

BRONZE - Oleksandr KHOTSIANIVSKYI (UKR) df. Daniel LIGETI (HUN), 5-0

Women’s Wrestling Results

GOLD - Miglena Georgieva SELISHKA (BUL) vs. Mariya STADNIK (AZE)

SEMIFINAL - Mariya STADNIK (AZE) df. Oksana LIVACH (UKR), 10-4
SEMIFINAL – Miglena Georgieva SELISHKA (BUL) df. Emilia CIRICU BUDEANU (MDA), 3-3

GOLD - Roksana Marta ZASINA (POL) vs. Stalvira ORSHUSH (RUS)

SEMIFINAL - Roksana Marta ZASINA (POL) df. Andreea Beatrice ANA (ROU), 2-1
SEMIFINAL - Stalvira ORSHUSH (RUS) df. Jessica Cornelia Francisca BLASZKA (NED), 9-2

GOLD - Bilyana Zhivkova DUDOVA (BUL) vs. Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS)

SEMIFINAL - Veronika CHUMIKOVA (RUS) df. Anastasia NICHITA (MDA), 4-4
SEMIFINAL - Bilyana Zhivkova DUDOVA (BUL) df. Yuliya PISARENKA (BLR), 2-1

GOLD - Koumba Selene Fanta LARROQUE (FRA) vs. Khanum VELIEVA (RUS)

SEMIFINAL - Koumba Selene Fanta LARROQUE (FRA) df. Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), 11-0
SEMIFINAL - Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) df. Nesrin BAS (TUR), 8-4

GOLD - Epp MAEE (EST) vs. Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS)

SEMIFINAL - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR), 6-3
SEMIFINAL - Epp MAEE (EST) df. Cynthia Vanessa VESCAN (FRA), 4-0


Saravi Dominates #WrestleWarsaw to Claim Spot on Iran Olympic Team

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (June 13) --- After the 97kg Greco-Roman final, Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI) went up to the judge to seek answers. His actions were justified as he had not only lost the gold medal to compatriot Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) but also the opportunity to represent Iran at the Tokyo Olympics.

Iran, treating the Poland Open as the selection trial for Tokyo Games, had entered the two and on Sunday, they dominated the field and reached the final. This was the last category that was undecided for Iran after three freestyle and one Greco-Roman class finalized in Warsaw.


Poland Open

They had to wait till the end of the day as it was the final bout and then more as both Iran wrestlers had mistakenly wore opposite singlets. 50 seconds into the bout they changed the singlets and resumed the bout. Saravi got the advantage of Balihamzehdeh being passive in the first period and he got an exposure to lead 3-0.

Balihamzehdeh was hoping that Saravi will be warned for inactivity as well but that did not happen as the latter kept on the pressure throughout the period. It ended 3-0 in favour of Saravi, completing the Iran team for the upcoming Games.

His gold medal also pushes him to third position in the Tokyo seeding as he collected 16 points. His total of 52 points takes him ahead of Cenk ILDEM (TUR) who is now out of the seeding.

Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL) finished fifth in Warsaw and collected 10 points for a total of 42 to edge past Ildem by a point.

There was no other major shuffle in the Olympic seedings for the weight classes that were in action on Sunday.

At 87kg, veteran Uzbek wrestler Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) won a bronze medal to collect 12 points but that doesn't change his third position in the seedings.


The gold medal was captured but he upcoming star and two-time U23 world champion Semen NAVIKOV (UKR). In the final, he defeated Istvan TAKACS (HUN) 2-1 with all points scored on referees call.

Takacs had earlier stopped Rio Olympic bronze medalist Assakalov's run in the tournament with a 2-1 win in the semifinal. The Uzbek then came back in the bronze medal bout against Arkadiusz KULYNYCZ (POL) with a big fall.

The next big thing in Ukrainian wrestling Navikov will not be at the Olympics as another star wrestler Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) is scheduled to wrestle in the Japanese capital city.

In the remaining three weight categories, hosts Poland captured two gold medals while the third went to Uzbekistan.

Michal TRACZ (POL) wrestled Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) in the 60kg final and held on for 3-2 win for his home country. In the nordic style bracket, he won two bouts to reach the semifinal in which he came out on top against Mukhammadkodir YUSUPOV (UZB) 3-2.

Ozturk had a back-and-forth semifinal against Olivier SKRZYPCZAK (POL) as the two scored 26 points in the stipulated six minutes. In the end, Ozturk won 15-11 to reach the final.

Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) won the second gold medal for Poland as he defeated Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB) 4-3 in the 72kg final.

The Pole had some tough bouts throughout the day as he began with a 3-1 win against Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) 3-1 before pulling through a 1-1 win against compatriot Roman PACURKOWSKI (POL).

From the other side, Rakhmatov defeated Juan AAK (NOR) 9-0 in the qualification before clinching a 7-0 win over Mateusz BERNATEK (POL) in the quarterfinal. He had a tough one against Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) in the semifinal but managed to pull off 5-4.

Uzbekistan did get it's gold medal on Sunday as five-time ranking series finalist Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) managed to hang on and defeat Ayata SUZUKI (JPN) 5-3 in the 63kg final. Suzuki was awarded a point for Bakhramov's passivity and he later got an exposure from par terre to lead 3-0. But Bakhramov reversed it and completed a head-pinch to make it 3-2.

In the second period, he got the point for Suzuki's inactivity and then exposed him from the par terre position to lead 5-3. The Japanese did try quite a few arm throws but failed to get any points.

From Japan, world champion Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) was also scheduled to make the Poland trip but pulled out at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances. Fumita has now not competed internationally since winning the gold medal at the Asian Championships in New Delhi in February, 2020.

Poland Open 63kg


GOLD: Michal TRACZ (POL) df Ekrem OZTURK (TUR), 3-2
BRONZE: Mukhammadkodir YUSUPOV (UZB) df Olivier SKRZYPCZAK (POL), 10-2

GOLD: Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. Ayata SUZUKI (JPN), 5-3
BRONZE: Christopher KRAEMER (GER) df. Artor HAGERUP (NOR), via fall
BRONZE: Krisztian KECSKEMETI (HUN) df. Mairbek SALIMOV (POL), 4-0

GOLD: Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) df. Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB), 4-3
BRONZE: Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) df. Juan AAK (NOR), 2-1
BRONZE: Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) df. Roman PACURKOWSKI (POL), 3-1

GOLD: Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) df. Istvan TAKACS (HUN), 2-1
BRONZE: Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) df. Arkadiusz KULYNYCZ (POL), via fall
BRONZE: Metehan BASAR (TUR) df. Bachir SID AZARA (ALG), 1-1

GOLD: Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) df. Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI), 3-0
BRONZE: Islam ABBASOV (AZE) df. Gerard Cyprian KURNICZAK (POL), 4-0