| Caylor Williams at the 2015 Pan American Games
Photo: Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
Date of competition: Monday, September 7
Familiar faces will grace the mat in Las Vegas for the 98 kg/216 lbs. Greco-Roman World Championships with all four World medalists from last year set to return for another run at gold and glory.
Headlining a deep 98 kg field is reigning World champion and current World No. 1 Artur Aleksanyan of Armenia.
The 23-year-old Aleksanyan has posted an undefeated record since losing in the 2013 World finals to Nikita Melnikov of Russia in Budapest, Hungary. This undefeated streak includes seven gold medals during international competition, culminating with a European Championship and a World Championship in 2014.
For being such a young wrestler, Aleksanyan has amassed an impressive set of credentials including an Olympic bronze medal in 2012, a silver medal at the World University Games, three European Championships gold medals, and both a gold and bronze medal at the Junior World Championships. This all on top of his two senior World medals from the past two seasons.
Aleksanyan owns wins over every returning medalist save one, World No. 2 Islam Magomedov of Russia. The two have not met during international competitions, but they did compete in the same Junior Worlds bracket in 2011 with Magomedov winning the gold and Aleksanyan placing ninth.
Magomedov has not competed at a senior level World Championship but does boast two gold medals and a bronze medal from the Junior World Championships. He emerged victorious at the European Games in a field that included numerous 98 kg World medalists and last year’s 85 kg World champion Melonin Noumonvi of France.
European Games runner-up Dimitri Timchenko of Ukraine comes in at No. 5 in the UWW World Rankings courtesy of his solid performance in Baku.
Las Vegas will mark the fifth World Championships appearance for Timchenko. Although he has seen limited success at the Worlds, a solid 2015 season where he earned two silver medals during international competition gives claim to the Ukrainian making a deep run in Las Vegas.
2014 World silver medalist Oliver Hassler of Germany has dropped out of the World Rankings after a shaky 2015 campaign.
Hassler did win the World Military Championships in October, but has since fallen off when it comes to international results. The German finished in 14th place at the European Games losing to Magomedov in the first round in addition to losing to No. 16 Ardo Arusaar of Estonia in the repechage. He also posted a seventh place finish at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in July.
The key question for the German contingent is whether or not Hassler is back in the championship form he was last year in Tashkent. If the answer is no, an opportunity could arise for current World No. 12 Peter Oehler to have a go at the Worlds instead of Hassler.
2012 Olympic champion and Iranian Greco-Roman star Ghasem Rezaei is once again in the mix for World gold following a comeback bid in Tashkent the resulted in a World bronze medal. Rezaei took the 2013 year off from international competition after striking gold in London.
The one difference from last year to this year for the Iranian is notching an international competition under his belt prior to the World Championships. Rezaei won the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in impressive fashion, perhaps giving him the proper tune up this time around heading into the World Championships.
World No. 4 Cenk Ildem of Turkey joined Rezaei as a World bronze medalist last year in Tashkent. He won the Vehbi Emre and Hamit Kaplan Tournament prior to earning bronze at the European Games this season.
Ildem won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Two World champions from the previous Olympic quad, Elis Guri of Bulgaria and Balasz Kiss of Hungary, will be in the medal mix in Las Vegas. Guri won the 2011 World Championships in Istanbul while Kiss won the 2009 World Championships in Herning, Denmark.
Guri did compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but the Bulgarian has not competed at a World Championships since he won the title back in 2011. Guri has notched two international competitions this season, the Dan Kolov – Nikola Petrov Tournament and Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup, but failed to medal at either competition.
Kiss did not compete at the World Championships in Tashkent but does have a recent World bronze medal from the 2013 World Championships in Budapest.
Currently at No. 20 in the UWW World Rankings, Kiss has plenty of upside in Las Vegas. He won the Hungarian Grand Prix in March over a talented field, but did have a lackluster Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup, finishing 30th overall.
Other notables on the European front include World No. 10 Aleksander Hrabovik who will get the nod for Belarus and World No. 11 Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu of Romania who finished in fifth place at the World’s last year.
American Caylor Williams will compete on his third U.S. Greco-Roman World Team this year in Las Vegas.
Williams started the 2015 season off strong with a runner-up performance at the Dave Schultz Memorial International that included a win over 2012 Olympic Silver medalist Rustam Totrov of Russia. Since then Williams has only placed in one of his three international competitions, picking up the bronze medal at the Pan American Championships.
For Williams to emerge as a medal threat he must display a consistency he has lacked for much of his international career.
UWW WORLD RANKINGS
1. Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia)
2. Islam Magomedov (Russia)
3. Ghasem Rezaei (Iran)
4. Cenk Ildem (Turkey)
5. Dimitri Timchenko (Ukraine)
6. Mahdi Aliyari Feyzabadi (Iran)
7. Orkhan Nuriev (Azerbaijan)
8. Timofej Dzeynichenko (Belarus)
9. Daigoro Timoncini (Italy)
10. Aleksander Hrabovik (Belarus)
11. Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (Romania)
12. Peter Oehler (Germany)
13. Fredrik Schoen (Sweden)
14. Felix Baldauf (Norway)
15. Marthin Nielsen (Finland)
16. Ardo Arusaar (Estonia)
17. Di Xiao (China)
18. Vladislav Metodiev (Bulgaria)
19. Seyedmostafa Salehizadeh (Iran)
20. Balazs Kiss (Hungary)
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2014 World Championships
98 kg/216 lbs. – Gold – Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); Silver –Oliver Hassler (Germany); Bronze – Ghasem Rezaei (Iran); Bronze – Cenk Ildem (Turkey); 5th – Aliaksandr Hrabovik (Belarus); 5th – Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (Romania); 7th – Miroslav Metoviev (Bulgaria); 8th – Ardo Arusaar (Estonia); 9th – Marthin Nielsen (Finland); 10th – Adam Varga (Hungary)
2013 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold - Nikita Melnikov (Russia); Silver - Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); Bronze – Balazs Kiss (Hungary); Bronze Shalva Gadabadze (Azerbaijan); 5th - Mahdi Aliyarifeizagadi (Iran); 5th - Norikatsu Saikawa (Japan); 7th - Yerulan Iskakov (Kazakhstan); 8th - Timo Antero Kallio (Finland); 9th – Mélonin Noumonvi (France); 10th - Cenk Ildem (Turkey)
2012 Olympic Games
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold - Ghasem Rezaei (Iran); Silver - Rustam Totrov (Russia); Bronze - Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); Bronze - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); 5th - Yunior Estrada Falcon (Cuba); 5th - Timofej Dzeynichenko (Belarus); 7th - Elis Guri (Bulgaria); 8th - Ardo Arusaar (Estonia); 9th - Hassine Ayari (Tunisia); 10th - Shalva Gadabadze (Azerbaijan)
2011 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold - Elis Guri (Bulgaria); Silver - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); Bronze - Rustam Totrov (Russia); Bronze - Cenk Idem (Turkey); 5th - Mohammed Abdelfatah (Egypt); 5th - Timofej Dzeynichenko (Belarus); 7th - Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); 8th - Mirko Englich (Germany); 9th - Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (Romania); 10th - Shalva Gadabadze (Azerbaijan)
2010 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold – Amir Ali Akbari (Iran); Silver – Timofej Dzeynichenko (Belarus); Bronze – Aslanbek Khushtov (Russia); Bronze – Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); 5th – Justin Ruiz (United States); 5th – David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 7th – Yunior Falcon Estrada (Cuba); 8th – Daigoro Timoncini (Italy); 9th – Robert Papp (Romania); 10th – Kaloyan Dinchev (Bulgaria)
2009 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Gold - Balazs Kiss (Hungary); Silver - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); Bronze - Amir Ali Akbari (Iran); Bronze - Aslanbek Khushtov (Russia); 5th - David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 5th - Sergiy Yeroshkin (Ukraine); 7th - Serkan Ozden (Turkey); 8th - Chang-Gun An (Korea) ; 9th - Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (Romania); 10th - Oliver Hassler (Germany)