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|OLYMPIC NEWS SERVICE: Greco-Roman preview for 60 kg, 84 kg, 120 kg
Olympic News Service
Men's Greco-Roman 60kg: NOROOZI (IRI), ALIYEV (AZE) draw to opposite sides of the bracket
LONDON, 5 August - Current and former world champions Omid NOROOZI (IRI) and Hasan ALIYEV (AZE) drew to opposite sides of the 60kg bracket Sunday as the Greco-Roman wrestling competition prepares to head into its second day at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
ALIYEV will likely have to get past Athens 2004 gold medallist JUNG Jihyun (KOR) in the quarterfinals after which he could then face a challenge from 2010 world No.2 Ryutaro MATSUMOTO (JPN) in the semifinals before the world champions can meet in the final on Monday evening at ExCeL.
NOROOZI opens with three-time Olympian SHENG Jiang (CHN), who finished in fifth place at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. NOROOZI could also face world No.3 Ivo ANGELOV (BUL) and world runner-up Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ) on his way through the bracket.
ALIYEV, if he defeats JUNG, could be looking at 2011 European champion Revaz LASHKHI (GEO) or world No.3 Zaur KURAMAGOMEDOV (RUS) in the semifinals.
Omid NOROOZI (IRI) comes to London as the world champion after a convincing run at the world championships which included wins over Athens 2004 Olympic champion JUNG Jihyun (KOR) and last year's Asia champion Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ). In addition to being world champion, NOROOZI is also the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist and 60kg winner at the 2012 world cup of Greco-Roman wrestling in which Iran also won the team title.
Hasan ALIYEV (AZE) looked virtually unbeatable in 2010 as the European and world champion, a year after winning the junior world and junior European crowns. ALIYEV was named FILA's (International Wrestling Federation) wrestler of the year for 2010. ALIYEV appears to have slumped in 2011, but his only losses at the European and world championships were third-period force-outs.
JUNG Jihyun (KOR) won the gold medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games after defeating two-time Olympic Games gold medallist Armen NAZARIAN (BUL) in the semifinals. In Beijing, however, JUNG was tripped up in the quarterfinals and did not get a chance to wrestle for a medal.
Ryutaro MATSUMOTO (JPN) surprised many in 2010 when he defeated JUNG in the semifinals of the world championships and then took ALIYEV to three periods in the championship final. MATSUMOTO was also the bronze medallist at the Asian Games after an opening round loss to NOROOZI. MATSUMOTO, however, finished only 38th in the 2011 world championships after losing his opening bout to European champion Revaz LASHKHI (GEO).
LASHKHI finished only 16th at last year's world meet after losing in the second round to JUNG. He comes to London, however, with a triumph in the German grand prix with a win over Rovshan BAYRAMOV (AZE), the 2011 world champion at 55kg.
Also, Ivo ANGELOV (BUL) won a bronze medal at last year's world championships and has been the No.2 in Europe for the last two years.
Ellis COLEMAN (USA), however, may not advance too far into the bracket, but fans will be hoping to see his "flying squirrel" technique. COLEMAN's diving roll over an opponent for three points might catch an unwary wrestler by surprise, but most of his would-be opponents have probably prepared a response after seeing his action on YouTube.
Men's Greco-Roman 84 kg: AVLUCA (TUR) meets JANIKOWSKI (POL) in opener
LONDON, 5 August - Veteran Nazmi AVLUCA (TUR) meets up and coming Damian JANIKOWSKI (POL) in a preliminary round bout to open the 84kg competition on the second day of Greco-Roman wrestling on Monday at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
AVLUCA, wrestling in his fourth successive Olympic Games, will seek to improve on his bronze medal of four years ago, while young JANIKOWSKI hopes to win Poland's first medal in Greco-Roman at an Olympic Games since 1996.
World champion Alim SELIMAU (BLR) squares off with 21-year-old Russian Alan KHUGAEV (RUS) in the round of 16 and will likely face 2010 world champion Hristo MARINOV (BUL) in the quarterfinals. MARINOV opens against Danyal GADJIYEV (KAZ), who wrestled for Russia until January 2011.
Hristo MARINOV (BUL), the 2010 world champion, made an early exit from the 2011 world championships, but rebounded with a triumph at the European championships in March. In Belgrade, MARINOV defeated 2011 world runner-up Damian JANIKOWSKI (POL).
JANIKOWSKI was runner-up in four tournaments from the world championships to the Pytlasinski international over the last 12 months, but the mixed martial arts enthusiast could be ready to break through and win Poland's first Olympic Games medal in Greco-Roman since 1996.
Nazmi AVLUCA (TUR), at 35, comes to his fourth Olympic Games with two world championship titles and a bronze medal from Beijing. In all, he has six medals from the world championships and eight medals from the European championships, including four gold medals.
Alan KHUGAEV (RUS) fell to JANIKOWSKI and AVLUCA at his world championships debut to finish fifth last year, but defeated JANIKOWSKI in the Pytlasinski final. The biggest wins of his career, thus far, are likely his two wins over Athens 2004 champion Alexej MISHIN (RUS) to make the 2011 world team for Russa.
Alim SELIMOV won world titles in 2005 and 2011 but has not shown much consistency in between.
Karam GABER EBRAHIM (EGY) was one of the most dynamic Greco-Roman wrestlers a decade ago, his lifts and throws bringing fans to their feet. GABER won the gold medal at 96kg in Athens 2004
Men's Greco-Roman -120 kg: Cuba's LOPEZ NUNEZ out to avenge defeat by KAYAALP (TUR)
LONDON, 5 August - Defending Olympic Games champion Mijain LOPEZ NUNEZ (CUB) will face world champion Riza KAYAALP (TUR) in the semifinals of the -120kg Greco-Roman wrestling tournament at ExCeL on Monday.
KAYAALP defeated four-time world champion LOPEZ NUNEZ at last year's world championships in Istanbul and will be looking to prove that his win was not a fluke.
Meanwhile, two former teammates for Russia meet in one of four preliminary bouts to kick off the second day of competition. Youri PATRIKEEV (ARM), who won a bronze medal in Beijing, meets Khasan BAROEV (RUS), gold medallist at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and silver medallist four years ago in Beijing.
LOPEZ NUNEZ (CUB) may have lost that world championships final last year but the four-time world champion and gold medallist from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is still a formidable opponent. He also finished fifth at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
KAYAALP (TUR) also has an impressive medal collection, including European titles in 2010 and 2012, and he was junior world champion in 2008 and 2009.
BAROEV (RUS) was the Athens 2004 gold medallist but lost to LOPEZ NUNEZ in the gold medal final in Beijing. The two-time world champion, however, did not qualify for London until the final qualification tournament in May.
PATRIKEEV (ARM) took the bronze medal in Beijing and was the world runner-up in 2010 for Armenia. PATRIKEEV, who wrestled for Russia until 2005, is also a four-time European champion, and took bronze medals in 2011 and 2012.
Nurmakhan TINALIEV (KAZ) claimed bronze medals at the world championships in 2010 and 2011 as well as the gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games and has a world championships bronze medal.
Dremiel BYERS (USA), who finished seventh in Beijing, was the 2002 world champion and runner-up in 2009. USA fans are looking for BYERS to make one final grab at glory but he will first have to get by KAYAALP in the quarterfinals.
Mihaly DEAK-BARDOS (HUN), 37, is competing at his fourth Olympic Games but his best finish was an eighth place in Beijing. DEAK-BARDOS has the rare distinction of being a five-time finalist in the world championships, collecting a silver medal each time.