USA Wrestling 2018 World Champions...

2018 World Championships preview in 55 kg/121 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 17, 2018, 4:08 p.m. (ET)

Sam Hazewinkel, right, battles Max Nowry in the 2018 Greco-Roman World Team Trials. Hazewinkel is on his first Senior Greco-Roman World Team. Photo by Austin Bernard.

Dates of competition: Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26

Good luck picking the champion, or even the medalists at 55 kg in Greco-Roman at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest.

Not only has this weight class not been contested since the 2013 World Championships, preliminary review of potential athletes in the field shows the possibility of no returning World or Olympic medalists in the field. Basically, the return of 55 kg means a brand new field of challengers, many who have only major age-group World achievements to consider.

The 2018 Continental Championships are a great start, although some of those athletes don’t go to the World Championships. The 2018 Asian champion was Shota Tanokura of Japan, who is making his third Senior World appearance. Tanokura was a World University Games bronze medalist in 2013.

The European champion in 2018 was Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan, who is a two-time Junior World champion and a 2013 World Military Games bronze medalist. However, he may not even enter in Budapest, as Ibrahim Nurullaeyev, a 2014 Junior World champion, could also get the nod for Budapest.

The Pan American champion is Sargis Khachataryan of Brazil, who was fifth in the Junior Worlds twice when he competed for Armenia. Add in the 2018 African champion, Abdelkarim Fergat of Algeria, who has never competed in a Senior World Championships, and you have to look past the Continental Championships to find who will be a serious threat to win a medal.

In addition to Senior achievements, you really need to look at age-group medals to find the talent and potential in this group of contenders.

If he enters, Zholaman Sharshenbekov of Kyrgyzstan, will be a contender, He took silver at last year’s Junior World Championships and owns a 2016 Cadet World bronze. Sharshenbekov was the 2018 Asian Senior Championships runner-up to Tanakura.

2018 World University champion and European Senior bronze medalist Ekrem Ozturk of Turkey had a No. 1 World ranking going into the summer. He boasts a 2014 Cadet World bronze medal, and a number of Senior international medals.

Another past World University champion is Sam Hazewinkel, who won his University gold way back in 2008. Hazewinkel switched from Greco-Roman to freestyle after 2009, and made the 2012 Olympic Games in freestyle. This year, at 34 years old, Hazewinkel came back to Greco-Roman and made his first U.S. Senior World team in this style.

2018 European U23 champion Nuzgari Tsurtsumia of Georgia, was third at the European Seniors this year, and boast a pair of Junior World medals (silver in 2015 and bronze in 2016). Reza Khedri of Iran was a 2015 Junior World champion and a 2011 Cadet World champion. Russia is always competitive in Greco-Roman, and their potential entry, Vasilii Topoev, was a 2007 Junior World bronze medalist.

Horlan Zhakanska of Kazakhstan won a 2013 Military World bronze, and was third in the 2018 Asian Senior Championships. Javokhir Mirakhmedov of Uzbekistan was a 2013 Cadet World bronze medalist and a 2015 Junior World bronze medalist. Another contender could be 2018 European Senior silver medalist Henry Maegisalu of Estonia.

Flip a coin, and check out some recent results to get your medal hopefuls here. Tsurtsumia was the champion at the Grand Prix of Germany in August. Norair Hakhoyan of Armenia won the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland this summer. Now that the 55 kg weight class is back, expect some new people to establish their credentials, which might make 2019 an easier task in identifying the top talents.

Note: TheMat.com will be posting weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

Note
: No 55 kg weight class at the Senior level between 2014-2017.

2013 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold - Won Chol Yun (North Korea); Silver - Gyujin Choi (Korea); Bronze – Peter Modos (Hungary); Bronze – Roman Amoyan (Armenia); 5th - Ivan Tatarinov (Russia); 5th – Spenser Mango (USA); 7th – Kanbek Zholchubekov (Kyrgyzstan); 8th – Orkhan Ahmadov (Azerbaijan); 9th – Nursultan Kalmurzayev (Kazakhstan); 10th – Victor Ciobanu (Moldova)

2012 Olympic Games
55kg/121 lbs. – Gold - Hamid Soryan (Iran); Silver - Rovshan Bayramov (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Peter Modos (Hungary); Bronze - Mingyan Semenov (Russia); 5th - Hakan Nyblom (Denmark); 5th - Gyu-Jin Choi (Korea); 7th - Shujin Li (China); 8th - Gustavo Balart (Cuba); 9th - Spenser Mango (USA); 10th - Kohei Hasegawa (Japan)

Most recent UWW Ranking Series Standings (used for seeding)
1 Ekrem Ozturk (Turkey)
2 Khorlan Zhakansha (Kazakhstan)
3 Shota Tanokura (Japan)
4 Abdelkarim Fergat (Algeria)
5 Reza Kheirollah Khedri (Iran)
6 Liguo Cao (China)
7 Zhanserik Sarsenbiyev (Kazakhstan)
8 Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan)
9 Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan)
10 Helary Maegisalu (Estonia)