USA Wrestling Olympic Games previe...

Olympic Games preview at 67 kg in Greco-Roman: Cuba’s Ismael Borrero Molina aims to repeat as Olympic champ in bracket featuring four other World champions

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | July 13, 2021, 6:31 p.m. (ET)

Draw: August 2
Dates of competition: Tuesday, August 3 and Wednesday, August 4

U.S. representative: Alejandro Sancho (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP)

Five previous World champions lurk within the confines of the 67 kg Greco-Roman weight class for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Out of the four, Cuba’s Ismael Borrero Molina is the only one that owns an Olympic medal. Borrero Molina claimed gold at the 2016 Olympics wrestling at 59 kg. Borrero Molina did not compete during 2017. He was back in action in 2018, bumping up to the 67 kg weight class. At the 2018 World Championships, his first at his new weight class, Borrero Molina failed to place, finishing 16th. Since then, he’s been untouchable, winning his last five tournaments including the Granma Cup, the 2019 Pan Am Championships, the 2019 Pan Am Games, the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Pan Am Championships. Additionally, Borrero Molina is a 2015 World champion and a two-time Central and Caribbean Games champion (2014, 2018).

The 2019 World runner-up to Borrero Molina, Russia’s Artem Surkov, will be on the other side of the bracket, coming in as the No. 3 seed. Surkov, a 2018 World champion, has medaled in all four of his Senior Worlds appearances, earning bronze in both 2015 and 2017. However, this is his first time wrestling in the Olympic Games.

The three other World champions in the bracket are Germany’s Frank Staebler, South Korea’s Hansu Ryu and Hungary’s Balint Korpasi. All three wrestlers will enter the tournament unseeded.

Staebler is a three-time World champion (2015, 2017, 2018) and a two-time World bronze medalist (2013, 2019). Over the past quad, Staebler shifted weight classes, winning gold at 71 kg in 2017 and 72 kg in 2018 before dropping back down to 67 kg in 2019. He is a two-time Olympian, finishing fifth in 2012 and seventh in 2016.

Ryu is a two-time World champion (2013, 2017) and a 2015 World silver medalist. He finished fifth at the 2016 Olympics. Ryu qualified for the Tokyo Games by finishing runner-up at the World Olympic qualifier, after failing to make a medal match at the 2019 World Championships.

Korpasi is 2016 World champion and a four-time World medalist (silver in 2018 and bronze in 2017 and 2019). All four of his medals including his World title have come at either 71 or 72 kg, which are non-Olympic weight classes. He also won the 2020 Individual World Cup, competing at 72 kg. In fact, the European Olympic qualifier, where he finished second, was the first time since 2012 that Korpasi competed in a weight class under 71 kg.

Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed of Egypt is the No. 2 seed. He made his Senior World debut in 2019, qualifying for the Olympics with a fifth-place finish. That same year, he also won his second-straight U23 World title, the World Military Games, where he bested Artem Surkov in the finals, and the All-African Games.

Serbia’s Mate Nemes garnered the No. 4 seed. Nemes finished with bronze at the 2019 Senior World Championships, which was his first Senior World medal to date. He is also a 2019 World Military Games bronze medalist. In his most recent competition, Nemes won the 2021 World Championships. This Olympics, Nemes will attempt to carry on the legacy of fellow Serbian Davor Stefanek, who took gold at 66 kg in 2016.

The other automatic-qualifying fifth-place finisher coming out of the 2019 World Championships is Denmark’s Fredrik Bjerrehuus. He is a five-time Senior World Team member, but 2019 was the first time Bjerrehuus advanced to a medal match at the World Championships. In 2018, he finished seventh.

Armenia’s Karen Aslanyan punched his Olympic ticket by winning the World Olympic Qualifier in April. A three-time age-group World medalist, including a Junior World gold in 2013, Aslanyan represented Armenia at the Senior Worlds twice, finishing fifth in 2017 and 24th in 2019. He is a three-time Senior European Championships bronze medalist (2017, 2019, 2020).

The World Olympic Qualifier runner-up was Ukraine’s Parviz Nasibov, a three-time age-group World medalist. Nasibov has wrestled at two Senior World Championships, finishing 29th at 71 kg in 2017 and 20th at 72 kg in 2018.

Georgia’s Ramaz Zoidze won the European Olympic Qualifier. While he has yet to represent Georgia at the Senior World Championships, Zoidze is an eight-time age-group World medalist, earning gold at the 2011 Cadet World Championships and the 2015 and 2016 Junior World Championships as well as silver at the 2012 Cadet World Championships and the 2017 U23 World Championships. In addition to the European Olympic Qualifier, Zoidze also won the title at the 2021 International Ukranian Tournament.

2019 U23 World champion Mohammadreza Geraie of Iran won the Asian Olympic Qualifier. Geraie is a  2019 Asian Championships gold medalist and a 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist. In his one Senior Worlds appearance, he finished eighth at the 2018 World Championships.

Alejandro Sancho will represent the Red, White and Blue after a runner-up finish at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier. A four-time National Team member, Sancho competed at the 2017 U23 Worlds and the 2014 Junior Worlds, but this will be his first appearance at a Senior-level World or Olympic Championship. To make the U.S. team, Sancho downed U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program teammate Ellis Coleman in a best-of-three series. Coleman, a 2012 Olympian, represented the U.S. at the last three World Championships. Sancho is a three-time Bill Farrell International champion (2014, 2018, 2019).

The other competitors in the field include 2020 Pan Am Olympic Qualifier champion Julian Horta Acevedo of Colombia, 2021 African Qualifier champion Souleyman Nasr of Tunisia, 2021 African Olympic Qualifier runner-up Abdelmalek Merabet of Algeria and IOC refugee team selection Aker Al-Obaidi.

Note: Starting July 9, USA Wrestling will be posting a weight class preview for the Olympic Games on a daily basis.

Greco-Roman 67 kg/147.5 lbs. 
NO. 1 SEED - 2019 World champion - Cuba (Ismael Borrero Molina)
NO. 2 SEED - 2019 World fifth place - Egypt (Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed)
NO. 3 SEED - 2019 World silver medalist - Russia (Artem Surkov)
NO. 4 SEED 2019 World bronze medalist - Serbia (Mate Nemes)
2019 World bronze medalist - Germany (Frank Staebler)
2019 World fifth place - Denmark (Fredrik Bjerrehuus)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – Colombia (Julian Horta Acevedo)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – United States (Alejandro Sancho)
2021 European Olympic Qualifier champion – Georgia (Ramaz Zoidze)
2021 European Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Hungary (Balint Korpasi)
2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier champion –Tunisia (Souleymen Nasr)
2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier runner-up –Algeria (Abdelmalek Merabet)
2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier champion – Iran (Mohammadreza Geraie)
2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier runner-up – South Korea (Hansu Ryu)
2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier champion – Armenia (Karen Aslanyan)
2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier runner-up – Ukraine (Parviz Nasibov)
IOC Refugee Team selection – Refugee Team (Aker Al-Obaidi)

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2019 World Championships
67 kg/147.75 – Gold – Ismael Borrero Molina (Cuba); Silver – Artem Surkov (Russia); Bronze – Mate Nemes (Serbia); Bronze – Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th – Mohamed Ibrahim Elsayed (Egypt); 5th – Fredrik Bjerrehuus; 7th – Gevorg Sahakyan (Poland); 8th – Hansu Ryu (Korea); 9th – Deyvid Tihomirov Dimitrov (Bulgaria); 10th – Atakan Yuksel (Turkey)

2018 World Championships
67 kg/147.75 lbs – Gold – Artem Surkov (Russia); Silver – Davor Stefanek (Serbia); Bronze – Meiirzhan Shermakhanbet (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Gevorg Sahakyan (Poland); 5th - Mamadassa Sylla (France); 5th – Danijel Janecic (Croatia); 7th – Fredrik Holmquist Bjerrehuus (Denmark); 8th – Mohammadreza Abdolhamid Geraei (Iran); 9th – Tsuchika Shimoyamada (Japan); 10th – Kamran Mammadov (Azerbaijan)

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)