2010 World Championships preview at 120 kg 264 5 lbs in Greco Roman wrestlingDate of competition: Tuesday, September 7
Mijian Lopez of Cuba continues to add to his reputation as the best current wrestler in the world. Lopez was the 2008 Olympic champion, and has won World titles in 2005, 2007 and 2009. The only year which he did not take gold during the last five seasons was in 2006, when he was World silver medalist. Lopez has great size, skill, strength, technique and power. At this point in his career, he will be favored at every event he enters. He has not competed during the season, skipping the Pan American Championships in April.
Dremiel Byers of the United States won the 2009 World silver medal. It was his third career World medal, joining a World gold medal in 2002 and a World bronze medal in 2007. Byers has already secured his place as one of the greatest U.S. Greco-Roman stars ever. However, he is still driven, after falling short of a medal at the 2008 Olympic Games. Byers comes into the World Championships with great momentum, after winning the Worlds tune-up, the Pytlasinski International in Poland in July. Byers beat World and Olympic champion Khassan Baroev of Russia in the finals there. Even better, Byers won his 2002 World title when the event was held in Moscow, and he would like to have history repeat itself.
Russia will be expected to challenge for a medal in this weight class, especially if Baroev is their entry, which was announced on the Russian wrestling website. Baroev was a 2004 Olympic gold medalist and also won World gold medals in 2003 and 2006. He was second behind Lopez at the 2007 Worlds and the 2008 Olympics. Last year, Russia entered Aleksandr Anunchin at this weight, and he placed seventh.
Winning World bronze medals in 2009 were young stars Jalmar Sjoeberg of Sweden and Riza Kayaalp of Turkey. Sjoberg was also fifth at the 2008 Olympics, and was a 2005 Junior World champion. Kayaalp has had a wonderful season, winning golds at the 2010 European Championships and the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals. Kayaalp was a two-time Junior World champion (2008 and 2009).
Still competing at a high level are 2008 Olympic bronze medalists Midaugas Mizgaitis of Lithuania and Yuri Patrikeev of Armenia. Mizgaitis placed third at the 2010 European Championships. Patrikeev won a gold medal at the 2010 World Cup. Patrikeev has won two World bronze medals, his first for Russia in 2002 and his second for Armenia in 2007. Patrikeev was also the 2008 and 2009 European champion.
Placing fifth in the World last year after dropping bronze-medal bouts were Nico Schmidt of Germany and Ioseb Chugoshvili of Belarus. Both competed in the Pytlasinski International, with Chugoshvili taking third and Schmidt taking seventh. Germany has another talented heavyweight in Ralf Boehringer, who competed at the 2010 Europeans and won a bronze at the Pytlasinski International.
Yannick Szczepaniak of France was fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2007 World Championships and is always a contender for the medal rounds. A competitor to watch is Babak Gorbani of Iran, who won the 2010 Asian Championships and was second behind Kayaalp at the Golden Grand Prix finals.
Winning the silver medal at this year's European Championships was Radomir Petkovic of Serbia, who is shown rapid improvement. If Sjoberg does not compete for Sweden, 2010 European bronze medalist Johan Magnus Euren would make a strong replacement. Euren was also third at the 2010 World Cup.
Always interesting to watch is four-time World silver medalist Mihaly Deak-Bardos of Hungary. He continues to compete in his mid-30's, and won a bronze medal at the FILA Golden Grand Prix Final this year.
Rafael Barreno of Venezuela was the 2010 Pan American Champion, and placed ninth at the 2009 World Championships. Igor Didyk of Ukraine had an impressive effort in winning the 2010 Junior World Championships. Other top heavyweights who may be contenders include Dmitri Javakhishvili of Georgia, Liu Deli of China, Vladimir Guralski of Israel and Ivan Ivanov of Bulgaria.
This weight is loaded with three past World or Olympic champions, in addition to numerous international medalists. However, the weight class belongs to Lopez until somebody takes it away from him.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2009 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez Nunez (Cuba); Silver - Dremiel Byers (USA); Bronze - Jalmar Sjoeberg (Sweden); Bronze - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); 5th - Nico Schmidt (Germany); 5th - Ioseb Chugoshvili (Belarus); 7th - Aleksandr Anunchin (Russia); 8th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Rafael Barreno (Venezuela); 10th - Marek Svec (Czech Republic)
2008 Olympics results
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Khasan Baroev (Russia); Bronze - Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania); Bronze - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 5th - Yannick Szczepaniak (France); 5th - Jalmar Sjoberg (Sweden); 7th - Dremiel Byers (USA); 8th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Liu Deli (China); 10th - Anton Botev (Azberbaijan)
2007 World Championships results
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Khassan Baroev (Russia); Bronze - Dremiel Byers (United States); Bronze - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 5th - Yannick Szczepaniak (France); 5th - Mihaly Deak Bardos (Hungary); 7th - Iosef Chugoshvili (Belarus); 8th -David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 9th - Georgiy Tsurtsumia (Kazakhstan); 10th - Muradyan Tuichiev (Tajikistan)
2006 World Championships results
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Khasan Baroev (Russia); Silver - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Bronze - Sergei Artsiukin (Belarus); Bronze - Ismail Guzel (Turkey); 5th - Jalmar Sjoberg (Sweden); 5th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 7th - Masoud Hashemzadeh (Iran); 8th - David Vala (Czech Republic); 9th - Dremiel Byers (United States); 10th - Mizgaitis Mindaugas (Lithuania)
2005 World Championships results
120 kg/264.5 lbs.- Gold - Mijial Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); Bronze - Sergei Artsiukin (Belarus); Bronze - Yetka Yilmaz (Turkey); 5th - Georgi Tsursumia (Kazakhstan); 5th - Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania); 7th - Juha Ahokas (Finland); 8th - Kostayantyn Stryzhak (Ukraine); 9th - David Vala (Czech Republic); 10th - Serguei Mourieko (Bulgaria)