USA Wrestling 2018 World Champions...

2018 World Championships preview at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 26, 2018, 9:54 a.m. (ET)

Ellis Coleman, shown at the 2017 Greco-Roman World Team Trials, is on his fourth U.S. Senior-level team and looks to challenge for a medal at 67 kg. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

Dates of competition: Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27

As an Olympic weight class, 67 kg is accumulating more than its share of stars, most who come from the former 66 kg class but a few who are moving up to test themselves here. With three World champions expected in Budapest, this should be a very competitive test midway through the Olympic quadrennium.

There are a pair of 2016 Olympic gold medalists heading to Budapest at this weight class. Davor Stefanek of Serbia was the 66 kg Olympic champion in Rio, and Ismael Borrero Molina of Cuba won the Rio Olympic gold at 59 kg. Both are also past World champions, with Borrero winning a 59 kg gold in 2015 and Stefanek winning a 66 kg gold in 2014.

Borrero took 2017 off, not competing at a major international event after Rio until the 2018 Takhti Cup in Iran, where he took fifth at 67 kg. Since then, he has won four straight tournaments at his new weight class, including the Pan American Championships, plus two competitions featuring Central American and Caribbean athletes. He is pretty much untested at this weight class, but his skill set gives him confidence that he can beat the best in his new environment.

Stefanek is one of those tough wrestlers who paid his dues and built himself into a star. His first Senior World Championships was back in 2003. He has competed in three straight Olympic Games (2004, 2008, 2012) and has become a hero in his nation. Stefanek has wrestled very little since Rio, also not competing in the 2017 World Championships. His only event in 2018 was a silver at the Mediterranean Games.

There is another star in the field with a resume as good as anybody, two-time World champion Han-Soo Ryu of Korea. Ryu is basically the reigning World champion, winning at 66 kg in the 2017 Worlds in Paris. He also won the World Championships back in 2013 at 66 kg. He lost to Frank Staebler of Germany in the finals of the 2015 World Championships, and Staebler has since moved up to 70 kg. Many were disappointed with Ryu’s fifth-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics and he may be motivated to get another shot at an Olympic title in 2020 in Tokyo. This year has been a mixed bag, with an Asian Games gold medal but a seventh place finish at the Asian Championships.

In regards to seeds available to these World champions, only Borrero is in the top four of the UWW Ranking Series, so both Stefanek and Ryu will be drawn into the event. It is possible that these three stars could end up in the same half-bracket. Don’t expect that this will be a clean sweep for the past World champions.

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Shmagi Bolkvadze of Georgia did some time at 71 kg or 72 kg over the last two years, but has also competed at 67 kg this year, where he was second at the 2018 European Championships. He competed at 71 kg at the 2017 Worlds but did not medal, but also went to the U23 Worlds at 66 kg last fall and won the World title. A 2014 Junior World champion, Bolkvadze has proven the ability to compete at the highest levels.

Russia is expected to bring two-time Senior World bronze medalist Artem Surkov to Budapest. Surkov won his World bronzes in 2015 and 2017 at 66 kg. Since last year’s Worlds in Paris, Surkov has won four straight individual gold medals, including the European Championships and the respected Ivan Poddubny International in Russia. Surkov has a substantial UWW biography, having won a medal in every single tournament he has entered in the database going back to 2009.

Sitting at No. 1 in the UWW Ranking Series is veteran star Almat Kebispayev of Kazakhstan, who won the 2018 Asian Championships and claimed a silver at the Asian Games. He won a 2011 World silver medal and two World bronze medals. However, he may not be the Kazakhstan entry, which is projected to be Meiirzhan Shermakhanbet, who won the 2018 Grand Prix of Hungary.

2014 World bronze medalist Edgardas Venckaitis of Lithuania is another veteran athlete who is a medal hopeful. He competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. He is coming off a year where he has not won any international medals in five different events.

Another athlete who has reached a World medal match is Karen Aslanyan of Armenia, who was fifth in the 2017 World Championships. Aslanyan won a bronze medal at the 2018 European Championships and a silver medal in the Pytlasinski Memorial in Poland, a top Worlds tune-up event. Aslanyan, a 2013 Junior World champion, also won a 2017 Military World title.

The USA is bringing 2012 Olympian Ellis Coleman, who also competed in the 2013 and 2017 Senior World Championships. Coleman won Junior World bronze medals in 2010 and 2011, and was an internet sensation with his Flying Squirrel throw at the Junior Worlds. Coleman has struggled with injuries during his career, and enters Budapest in good health and with confidence.

Claiming a bronze at the 2018 European Championships was Enes Basar of Turkey, a two-time Junior World medalist who also captured gold at the 2016 University World Championships. 2010 Junior World champion Kamran Mammadov of Azerbaijan has also won medals at the World Military Championships as well as the Military World Games. 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Mohammad Reza Geraie of Iran was also a 2016 University World bronze medalist.

Among the continental medalists expected in Budapest are 2018 Asian Championships silver medalist Tsuchika Shimoyamada of Japan, 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Amantur Ismailov of Kyrgyzstan, 2017 Junior World bronze medalist and 2018 African champion Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed of Egypt and 2018 Asian Championships bronze medalist Mirozobek Rakhmatov of Uzbekistan. Others to watch include Danijel Janecic of Croatia and Denys Demyankov of Ukraine.

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

2017 World Championships
66 kg/145 lbs.
Gold – Han-Soo Ryu (Korea); Silver - Mateusz Bernatek (Poland); Bronze – Artem Surkov (Russia) ; Bronze –Atakan Yuksel (Turkey) ; 5th - Karen Aslanyan (Armenia); 5th - Mohammad Elyasi (Iran); 7th - Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan); 8th - Danijel Janecic (Croatia); 9th - Denys Demyankov (Ukraine); 10th - Flavio Freuler (Switzerland)

2016 Olympic Games
66 kg/145 lbs. – Gold – Davor Stefanek (Serbia); Silver - Migran Arutnyan (Armenia); Bronze – Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Shmagi Bolkvadze (Georgia); Fifth – Ryu Hansu (South Korea); Fifth – Tomohiro Inoue (Japan); Seventh – Frank Staebler (Germany); Eighth – Tarek Aziz Benaissa (Algeria); Ninth – Islam-Beka Albiev (Russia); Tenth – Omid Haji Noroozi (Iran)

2015 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold – Frank Staebler (Germany); Silver – Han-Soo Ryu (Korea); Bronze – Davor Stefanek (Serbia); Bronze – Artem Surkov (Russia); 5th – Tarek Aziz Benaissa (Algeria); 5th – Migran Arutyunyan (Armenia); 7th – Shmagi Bolkvadze (Georgia); 8th – Dominik Etlinger (Croatia); 9th – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); 10th – Mateusz Lucjan Bernatek (Poland)

2014 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold – Davor Stefanek (Serbia); Silver – Omid Noroozi (Iran); Bronze – Edgardas Venckaitis (Lithuania); Bronze – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); 5th – Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 5th – Frank Staebler (Germany); 7th – Revaz Lashkhi (Georgia); 8th – Hideyuki Otoizumi (Japan); 9th – Mihran Hartyunyan (Armenia); 10th – Konstantin Stas (Bulgaria)

2013 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold – Han-Soo Ryu (Korea); Silver – Islambek Albiev (Russia); Bronze – Sandeep Tulsi Yadav (India); Bronze –Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th – Aleksandar Maksimovic (Serbia); 5th – Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 7th - Vladimiros Matias (Greece); 8th – A. Byabangard (Iran); 9th – Yuksel Atakan (Turkey); 10th – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)

2012 Olympic Games
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold – Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); Silver – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); Bronze – Manuchar Tskhaidia (Georgia); Bronze – Steeve Guenot (France); 5th – Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th – Pedro Mulens (Cuba); 7th – Edgaras Venckaitis (Lithuania); 8th – Justin Lester (USA); 9th – Darkhan Bayakhmetov (Kazakhstan); 10th – Amm El Garably (Egypt)

Current UWW Ranking Series Standings (for seeding)
1 Almat Kebispayev (Kazakhstan)
2 Ismael Borrero Molina (Cuba)
3 Tsuchika Shimoyamada (Japan)
4 Murat Firat (Turkey)
5 Artem Surkov (Russia)
6 Shmagi Bolkvadze (Georgia)
7 Karen Aslanyan (Armenia)
8 Enes Basar (Turkey)
9 Fredrik Bjerrehuus (Denmark)
10 Dawid Karecinski (Poland)