Henson wins gold Sharratt takes bronze at FS Olympic Qualifier in Belarus

By Gary Abbott | Jan. 30, 2000, 12 a.m. (ET)

Sammie Henson (Norman, Okla./Sunkist Kids) won a gold medal at 119 pounds, and Joel Sharratt (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) claimed a bronze medal at 213.75 pounds at the Freestyle Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Minsk, Belarus, Jan. 29-30.

This event was the first of five freestyle Olympic qualifying events held across the world from January-March 2000.

Nations are only able to enter athletes in weight classes which they did not qualify for during the 1999 Freestyle World Championships last fall. The athletes do not qualify themselves for the Olympic Games; rather, they are qualifying their nation to participate in that weight class.

After all five of the Olympic Greco-Roman Qualifing events are held, the points for each nation at each weight class are added up. The top three scores for each nation at each weight class are counted toward the final total. The top seven nations at each weight class from the qualifying events will qualify for the Olympic Games.

Henson, the 1998 World Champion, dominated the field, winning five matches. Henson scored technical falls in his first four matches, outscoring his opponents 44-0 in the bouts.

His semifinal victory was a 12-0 whitewash of veteran Nurdin Donbaev of Kyrgyztan. He won the gold medal with a 3-1 decision over Haibo Meng of China.

This is the first time that Henson has been down to 119 pounds this season. He has been competing up at 127.75 pounds in early-season tournaments.

Sharratt had an impressive 4-1 record in the tournament. His only loss came in the semifinals to eventual silver medalist Vadim Tasoev of Ukraine, 13-5. Sharratt rebounded to claim the bronze medal with a 4-2 victory over Zoltan Farkas of Hungary.

The United States entered athletes at only two weight classes (119 pounds, 213.75 pounds). The USA has already earned Olympic freestyle qualification berths at six weight classes (187.25 pounds, 213.75 pounds, 286 pounds).

The medal performances by Henson and Sharratt earned the United States valuable points towards Olympic qualification at the two weight classes.

Updated placings at each weight class, as well as exact Olympic qualification points earned, will be posted when available.

FREESTYLE OLYMPIC QUALIFIER at Minsk, Belarus, January 29-30

Gold medal finals

54 kg/119 lbs.- 1st - Sammie Henson (USA) dec. Haibo Meng (China), 3-1

58 kg/127.75 lbs. - 1st - Oyunbileg Purevbaator (Mongolia) won by tech. fall over Arif Abduallayev (Azerbaijan), 10-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - 1st - Shamil Efendiev (Azerbaijan) dec. Ruslan Bosisteanu (Moldova), 6-4

69 kg/152 lbs.- 1st - Zaur Botaev (Russia) dec. Sergej Demtchenko (Belarus), 4-1

76 kg/167.5 lbs.- 1st - Gennadij Laliev (Kazakhstan) dec. Ruslan Hinchakov (Uzbekistan), 5-1

85 kg/187.25 lbs. - 1st - David Bichinaschvili (Ukraine) won by tech. fall over Gabor Kapuvari (Hungary), 10-0

97 kg/213.75 lbs. - 1st - Arawat Sabejew (Germany) dec. Vadim Tasoev (Ukraine), 4-2

130 kg/286 lbs. - 1st - Alexander Modebadze (Georgia) dec. Alexei Medvedev (Belarus), 3-0

U.S. performances

119 - Sammie Henson, Norman, Okla., 1st - won by tech. fall over Marijan Naumov (Macedonia), 11-1; won by tech. fall over Shankai Kripa (India), 11-0; won by tech. fall over Taleb Abou (Egypt), 10-0; won by tech. fall over Nurdin Donbaev (Kyrgyzstan), 12-0; dec. Haibo Meng (China), 3-1

213.75 - Joel Sharratt, Minneapolis, Minn., 3rd - dec. Hiroshi Kosuge (Japan), 5-0; dec. Jouris Janovics (Latvia), 5-4; dec. Ricardas Paulinkonis (Lithuania), 4-1; lost dec. to Vadim Tasoev (Ukraine), 13-5; dec. Zoltan Farkas (Hungary), 4-2