UPDATE: Jesse Thielke qualifies for Olympic Games, to wrestle for gold in Turkey

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | May 06, 2016, 10:32 a.m. (ET)
 Jesse Thielke celebrates after qualifying for Olympic Games
Photo: Dr. Fred Roberto, from Istanbul, Turkey
ISTANBUL, Turkey – U.S. Olympic Team Trials champion Jesse Thielke (Germantown, Wis./New York AC) solidified his place at the 2016 Olympic Games by navigating a brutal 59 kg/130 lbs. bracket and advancing to the finals of the 2nd World Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament.

The 23-year-old Greco-Roman phenom Thielke won four matches in the first session of wrestling in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday and will show down against six-time World champion and reigning Olympic champion Hamid Soryan of Iran in the gold medal match scheduled for 11 a.m. (ET) today.

Athletes needed to place in the top two of their weight class to qualify their nation to compete at said weight class at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this August.

Thielke opened with a pair of decisive wins over 2012 Olympic medalists Peter Modos of Hungary, 8-0, and Revaz Lashkhi of Georgia, 13-6. In the quarterfinals, he picked up a second period fall over Frunze Harutyunyan of Sweden while trailing 4-2 at the time of the fall.

The all-important semifinal match pitted Thielke against 2014 World University bronze medalist and 2012 World University champion Donior Islamov of Moldova. After giving up a pair of four point throws early, Thielke unleashed a relentless offense that led to a 17-8 technical fall and a birth in Rio.

Despite valiant efforts, U.S. Greco-Roman athletes RaVaughn Perkins (Omaha, Neb./New York AC) and Joe Rau (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) fell short of qualifying for the Olympic Games.

After finishing one victory shy of qualifying for Rio at the 1st World Olympic Games Qualifying Tournament in Mongolia two weeks ago, Perkins appeared poised to threaten for a qualifying spot once more.

To open the tournament, Perkins defeated 2012 Asian champion Pan Zheng of China by technical fall, 11-2, and followed with a come from behind 9-4 decision over Vladimiros Matias of Greece to advance to the 66 kg/145.5 lbs. quarterfinals.

Perkins run to Rio was stopped short by 2016 Asian Championships bronze medalist Ruslan Tsarev of Kyrgyzstan in a back and forth, 4-3, affair. x

Perkins was pulled back into repechage when Tsarev reached the finals. He drew Armen Vardanyan of Ukraine in his first repechage bout. Vardanyan hit two four-point arm throws to defeat Perkins by technical fall, 8-0 and eliminate him from medal contention.

Rau, a 2014 World Team member seeking his first Olympic berth, looked strong in his opener as he downed Narek Setaghyan of Spain with ease, 9-0. Facing Kevin Mejia of Honduras the second round, Rau gave up a trapped arm gutwrench in the first period to lose by technical fall, 8-0.

The medal matches for today’s competition in Turkey are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. (ET). The finals can be viewed live courtesy of United World Wrestling at www.unitedworldwrestling.org.

At Istanbul, Turkey

U.S. Greco-Roman results

59 kg/130 lbs. – Jesse Thielke, Germantown, Wis. (New York AC/OTC)
WIN Peter Modos (Hungary), 8-0
WIN Revaz Lashkhi (Georgia), 13-6
WIN Frunze Harutyunyan (Sweden), Fall
WIN Donior Islamov (Moldova), 17-8
Gold-Medal Finals - vs. Hamid Soryan (Iran)

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (New York AC/OTC)
WIN Pan Zheng (China), 11-2
WIN Vladimiros Matias (Greece), 9-4
LOSS Ruslan Tsarev (Kyrgyzstan), 4-3
LOSS Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine), 0-8

98 kg/215 lbs. – Joe Rau, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
WIN Narek Setaghyan (Spain), 9-0
LOSS Kevin Mejia (Honduras), 8-0

Gold Medal finals
59 kg/130 lbs. - Hamid Mohammad Soryan (Iran) vs. Jesse Thielke (USA)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Ruslan Tsarev (Kyrgyzstan) vs. Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan)
75 kg/165 lbs. - Daniel Tihomirov Aleksandrov (Bulgaria) vs. Selcuk Cebi (Turkey)
85 kg/187 lbs. - Roberti Kobliashvili (Georgia) vs. Denis Maksymilian Kudla (Germany)
98 kg/215 lbs. - Cenk Ildem (Turkey) vs. Daigoro Timoncini (Italy)
120 kg - Johan Magnus Euren (Sweden) vs. Iakobi Kajaia (Georgia)