World Championships preview in Greco-Roman wrestling at 71 kg/156.5 lbs.
2014 World Team member Justin Lester after U.S.
Open victory earlier this year. Tony Rotundo Photo.
Date of Competition: Sunday, September 14
The addition of the 71 kg/156.5 lbs. weight class to the World Championship docket has created quite a shift in the dynamics of which athletes will compete where in Tashkent this September.
Many athletes who competed at both 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and 74 kg/165 lbs. during the 2013 season have filtered into this new “in-between” weight class for 2014.
Hungarian hammer Tamas Lorincz is the top ranked wrestler in the world by FILA at this weight, and appears to be the odds on favorite to win the gold medal in Tashkent.
Lorincz won the silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., but has yet to place at the World Championships during his six previous attempts. He has reached the bronze medal match at Worlds three times, each yielding the same result, disappointment.
Last year, Lorincz finished in 10th place at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary after going undefeated throughout international completion during the 2013 season prior to Worlds.
The Hungarian has generated similar results in 2014. He has come away with gold at the Yadegar Imam Cup, Golden Grand Prix, European Championships and World University Championships.
Lorincz appears to have found a home at 71 kg/156.5 lbs. and will be extremely tough to knock off at the World Championships.
Rasul Chunayev of Azerbaijan heads into the World Championships second in the FILA World Rankings.
Chunayev was the silver medalist at the European Championships and Golden Grand Prix this year, losing to Lorincz in the finals of both tournaments. Chunayev is a two-time University World champion, winning titles in 2010 and 2013.
Currently third in the FILA World Rankings is 2009 World Champion Saeid Mourad Abdvali of Iran.
Abdvali has competed the majority of the year at 75 kg/165 lbs. but is slated to compete at 71 kg/156.5 lbs. come Worlds. In his first international competition at this new weight class, Abdvali went undefeated at the World Cup held on his home soil of Iran.
The Iranian was a 2012 Olympian at 66 kg/15.5 lbs. and is another athlete who appears to have benefited greatly from the addition of this new weight class.
Given Korea’s rich Greco-Roman tradition of late at the lower weight classes, one would expect 14th ranked Ji-Hyun Jung to be a medal threat in Tashkent. Jung has won the Asian Championships and Olympia Tournament this year. He also finished in eighth place at the London Olympics at 60 kg/132 lbs.
Expect young Russian Chingiz Labazanov to make his mark on this weight class come September.
Currently ranked fourth in the world by FILA, Labazanov won the Ivan Poddubny Tournament in January and finished in fifth place in a loaded bracket at the Euorpean Championships in April. He boasts two Junior World Championships and will shoot for gold once more, in this his first trip to the Senior Worlds.
Georgia has two of the top six ranked wrestles in the world in Mindia Tsulukidze and Manukhar Tskhadaia, but it appears unranked and inexperienced Giorgi Javakhia will get the nod according to the preliminary Georgian roster.
The seventh ranked wrestler in the world, Aleksander Maksimovic of Serbia, has logged an impressive eight international competitions since finishing fifth in the World Championships last year at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. The Serbian won gold at the Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza International and Mediterranean Championship in addition to eighth place finishes at both the European Championship and Golden Grand Prix Final.
Going to battle in Tashkent for the Stars and Stripes is Two-Time World Bronze medalist and 2012 Olympian Justin Lester.
Lester has been a staple on the Greco-Roman circuit in the U.S. since winning a Cadet World Championship all the way back in 1999.
Tashkent will mark Lester’s sixth time competing in the World Championships in addition to his Olympic appearance in London. He won bronze medals at the Worlds in 2006 in Guangzhou, China and 2007 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Lester was an integral member of the U.S. Greco-Roman World Championship team in 2007.
Lester has bumped up from 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and now looks stronger than ever to cement his legacy as one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in U.S. history, and capture the coveted World Championship gold medal.
FILA WORLD RANKINGS
1. Tamas LORINCZ (HUN)
2. Rasul CHUNAYEV (AZE)
3. Saeid Mourad ABDVALI (IRI)
4. Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS)
5. Mindia TSULUKIDZE (GEO)
6. Manukhar TSKHADAIA (GEO)
7. Aleksander MAKSIMOVIC (SRB)
8. Balint KORPASI (HUN)
9. Abuyazid MANTSIGOV (RUS)
10. Aleksander DZEMYANOVICH (BLR)
11. Yunus OZEL (TUR)
12. Mate NEMES (SRB)
13. Mohammad KARIMI (IRI)
14. JUNG Ji-Hyun (KOR)
15. Yuriy DENISOV (RUS)
16. Mathias MAASCH (GER)
17. Maksat YEREZHEPOL (KAZ)
18. Askhat ZHANBIROV (KAZ)
19. Varsham BORANYAN (ARM)
20. Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR)