USA Wrestling Postponed Olympics D...

Postponed Olympics Day 6: Gold medals scheduled in freestyle at 74 kg, 125 kg (men) and 53 kg (women)

By Gary Abbott and Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | Aug. 07, 2020, 3 p.m. (ET)

The sixth day of wrestling at the 2020 Olympic Games was scheduled for today. Had the event not been postponed and rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three weights that would have had medal matches on August 7 are 74 kg and 125 kg in men’s freestyle and 53 kg in women’s freestyle. Team USA is qualified in all three of those weights. In fact, two of the athletes who qualified the U.S. in those divisions are World champions, four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs (74kg MFS) and 2019 World champion Jaccara Winchester (53 kg WFS).

At this point, half of the field has been determined in every weight class for the 2021 Olympic wrestling competition. We will look at the nations qualified (and the athletes expected to wrestle), as well as those who might be favored to qualify via the Olympic Qualifiers to come in 2021. The United States team will not be determined until April 2021.

Men’s freestyle 74 kg review

74 kg in the U.S. has been manned for nearly a decade by the already legendary Jordan Burroughs. A 2012 Olympic champion, four-time World champion and three-time World bronze medalist, Burroughs qualified the weight class by winning a bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. While Burroughs waits in the finals of the Olympic Team Trials, he could see tough competition from rival Kyle Dake, a two-time World champion. While Dake and Burroughs have been battling for years with Burroughs holding the upper hand, when UWW created the 79 kg weight class, Dake took it over and dominated. He has won World titles the past two years and went unscored upon at the 2018 World Championships. Another wrestler that can’t be counted out is James Green, a two-time World medalist and five-time World Team member at 70 kg. Green is bumping up to 74 kg for his Olympic run.

Internationally, the man to beat the past two years has been Russia’s young star Zaurbek Sidakov. The 2018 and 2019 World champion, Sidakov bested Burroughs at the World Championships both years on last-second step out points. Another big name to watch for is Italy’s Frank Chamizo. While he originally competed for Cuba, winning a World bronze in 2010, since moving to Italy, Chamizo has won World titles in 2015 at 65 kg and 2017 at 70 kg. In 2016, he defeated American Frank Molinaro to win Olympic bronze at 65 kg. In 2018, Chamizo moved up to 74 kg, finishing fifth at the World Championships falling to Sidakov and Burroughs. In 2019, he earned World silver, qualifying the weight class for the Olympic Games. The other 2019 World medalist already qualified is Daniar Kaisanov of Kazakhstan, who initially took fifth but was awarded bronze after France’s Zelimkhan Khadjiev tested positive for a banned substance. The two fifth-place finishers were 2018 World University Championships silver medalist Mao Okui of Japan and Poland’s Kamil Rybicki, who was moved up due to Khadjiev being disqualified. Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier champion and four-time World medalist Geandry Garzon Caballero of Cuba and Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier runner-up and 2011 World silver medalist Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico round out the wrestlers already qualified. Garzon Caballero placed fifth at the 2008 Olympics, while Gomez competed in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

There are still some notable names yet to qualify for the Games including Georgia’s Avtandil Kentchadze. A 2018 World silver medalist and U23 World champion, Kentchadze went 0-1 at the 2019 World Championships. Another heavy hitter is Uzbekistan’s Bekzod Abdurakhmanov, a two-time World bronze medalist who finished fifth at the 2016 Olympics. 2017 World bronze medalist and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Soener Demirtas of Turkey is also currently on the outside looking in.

Men’s freestyle 74 kg/163 lbs. Olympic Games qualifiers
2019 World champion – Russia (Zaurbek Sidakov)
2019 World silver medalist – Italy (Frank Chamizo Marquez)
2019 World bronze medalist – United States (Jordan Burroughs)
2019 World bronze medalist – Kazakhstan (Daniyar Kaisanov)
2019 World fifth place – Japan (Mao Okui)
2019 World sixth place – Poland (Kamil Rybicki)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – Cuba (Jeandry Garzon Caballero)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Puerto Rico (Franklin Gomez Matos)

Men’s freestyle 125 kg review

2017 and 2018 World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski missed out on a medal at the 2019 World Championships. However, he got the job done at the 2020 Pan Am Olympic Qualifier, winning his bracket and qualifying the weight. Domestically, the man that looks most likely to push Gwiazdowski for the spot is No. 2 on the National Team Gable Steveson. A 2015 and 2016 Cadet World champion and 2017 Junior World champion, Steveson is entering his junior year at Minnesota. He was undefeated last season and went into the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed.

In recent memory, the heavyweight class has been controlled by two wrestlers, Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili and Turkey’s Taha Akgul. Petriashvili is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and has won World titles in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Additionally he is a two-time World bronze medalist. Akgul is a 2016 Olympic champion and a two-time World champion (2014 and 2015). He has finished runner-up at the World Championships in 2017 and 2019 and placed third in 2013. The two bronze medalists from the 2019 World Championships are China’s Zhiwei Deng, who also placed second at the 2018 World Championships and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi, a 2012 Olympian. Deng was awarded bronze after initially placing fifth, losing to Uzbekistan’s Khasanboy Rakhimov, who tested positive for banned substances. The fifth place finishers were Egzon Shala for Kosova, formerly of Albania and Yadollah Mohebi of Iran, who moved up after Rakhimov’s positive test. Mohebi was a 2019 World Military Games silver medalist. The other wrestler already qualified at the weight class is Pan Am Olympic Qualifier runner-up Amarveer Dhesi of Canada. A three-time All-American for Oregon State, Dhesi is a 2014 Junior World champion.

Most of the big names at this weight class are already qualified for the Olympic Games. The only country with a medalist at the 2016 Games that is not qualified is Belarus. Ibrahim Saidau took bronze in Rio, but has only competed in one World Championship since then, finishing 11th in 2018. Another wrestler to watch for is Jamaladdin Magamadov of Azerbaijan, who is a 2015 World silver medalist and a 2011 World bronze medalist and two-time Olympian. He finished seventh at the 2019 World Championships. Notably, Russia is not qualified for this weight class at the Olympic Games. In 2019 they sent Alan Khugaev to the World Championships, and he finished 9th. Another potential heavyweight candidate for Russia is Anzor Khizriev, the 2019 European Games champion. Khizriev placed fifth at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships

Men’s freestyle 125 kg/275 lbs. Olympic Games qualifiers

2019 World champion – Georgia (Geno Petriashvili)
2019 World silver medalist – Turkey (Taha Akgul)
2019 World bronze medalist – Ukraine (Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi)
2019 World bronze medalist – China (Zhiwei Deng)
2019 World fifth place – Kosova (Egzon Shala)
2019 World fifth place – Iran (Yadollah Mohebi)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – United States (Nick Gwiazdowski)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Canada (Amarveer Dhesi)

Women’s freestyle 53 kg review

55 kg World champion Jacarra Winchester has dropped down for her Olympic run. She already qualified the weight class by making the finals of the Pan Am Olympic qualifier before defaulting out. Winchester finished fifth at the 2018 World Championships at 55 kg. 2018 World silver medalist and 2019 World Team member at 53 kg Sarah Hildebrandt has dropped down to 50 kg, where she also qualified the weight class at the Pan Am Qualifier, and 2016 Olympic champion Helen Maroulis has moved up to compete at 57 kg. Maroulis has also qualified her weight class for the Games. Pushing Winchester for the spot could be six-time National Team member and current No. 2 at 53 kg Katherine Shai or three-time National Team member and No. 2 at 55 kg Dom Parrish. Winchester sits in the Olympic Team Trials finals, so she will face whoever emerges from the bracket.

North Korea’s Young Mi Pak is the returning World champion at 53 kg. She has also finished fifth at the 2017 World Championships and eighth at the 2013 World Championships. Japan’s Mayu Mukaida finished with silver last year. She won World titles in 2016 and 2018 and earned silver in 2019 and 2017. The two 2019 bronze medalists were Vinesh of India and Qianyu Pang of China. Vinesh was a 2016 Olympian and Pang also took bronze at the 2018 World Championships.
The fifth place finishers were Maria Prevolaraki of Greece and Roksana Zasina of Poland. Prevolaraki is a two-time Olympian and has taken bronze at the 2012 and 2017 World Championships. Zasina was also a 2017 World bronze medalist. The last qualifier is Cuba’s Lianna de la Caridad Montero Herrera, who won the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier. She is a 2018 World bronze medalist.

Three-time Olympian Sofia Mattsson of Sweden is a big name that still needs to qualify. Mattsson is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, a 2009 World champion and has five other World medals to her name. Two-time World champion Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus is not yet qualified either. Kaladzinskaya was a 2012 Olympian and won World titles in 2012 and 2017. She finished tenth at the 2019 World Championships. 2018 World bronze medalist Diana Weicker of Canada is also still looking to earn a berth. She finished 18th in 2019. However, Canada actually sent Samantha Stewart to the Olympic Qualifier, where she finished third. Stewart has never competed at a World Championship but finished first at the Canadaa Cup, the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Granma y Cerro Pelado tournament in 2019.

Women’s freestyle 53 kg/116.5 lbs. Olympic Games qualifiers
2019 World champion – North Korea (Yong Mi Pak)
2019 World silver medalist – Japan (Mayu Mukaida)
2019 World bronze medalist – India (Vinesh)
2019 World bronze medalist – China (Qianyu Pang)
2019 World fifth place – Greece (Maria Prevolaraki)
2019 World fifth place – Poland (Roksana Zasina)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – Cuba (Lianna de la Caridad Montero Herrera)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – United States (Jacarra Winchester)