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|OLYMPIC NEWS SERVICE: Men’s freestyle preview for 55 kg, 74 kg
Olympic News Service
OTARSULTANOV (RUS) draws to upper half of bracket in men's freestyle 55kg
LONDON, 9 August - Dzhamal OTARSULTANOV (RUS) drew to the upper half of the 55kg bracket in men's freestyle on Thursday as wrestling competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games enters the home stretch.
OTARSULTANOV, getting his first chance at a senior-world level competition, will open against Naatele Sam SHILIMELE (NAM) in the round of 16 with the winner moving on to the quarterfinals at ExCeL to meet either Dilshod MANSUROV (UZB) or YANG Kyong Il (PRK).
In the lower half of the bracket. three of the top challengers - Hassan RAHIMI (IRI), Radoslav VELIKOV (BUL) and Vladimer KHINCHEGISHVILI (GEO) - drew to a "Grappling group of death" in the preliminary round. The survivor could meet world No. 5 Mihran JABURYAN (ARM) or 2010 Asia champion Shinichi YUMOTO (JPN) in the semifinals.
Dzhamal OTARSULTANOV (RUS) has never wrestled in a senior world championships but he is a three-time European champion and has beaten out two-time world champ Viktor LEBEDEV (RUS) for the trip to London. He is also a two-time junior world champion and owns a big win at this level over Beijing 2008 gold medallist Henry CEJUDO (USA). He reportedly has trouble with his knees.
Hassan RAHIMI (IRI) won the Asia championship crown in February after finishing with a bronze medal at the 2011 world championships. In the world meet, RAHIMI notched wins against 2009 world champion YANG Kyong Il (PRK) and 2009 junior world champ Vladimir KHINCHEGASHIVILI (GEO). His only loss of the meet was to Bulgarian veteran Radoslav VELIKOV (BUL).
YANG won the world title in 2009 but slumped to 17th a year ago despite a win over over Asian Games champion Dilshod MANSUROV (UZB). YANG was silver medallist at the Asian Games behind MANSUROV 10 months earlier.
Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) is a two-time junior world champion (2010, 2011). He finished seventh at the 2011 world championships, just outside the Olympic Games qualification zone, but won the European qualifier in April.
Radoslav VELIKOV (BUL), who won a bronze medal in Beijing, was the world runner-up last year and is hoping to show the younger challengers in London the importance of experience over youthful enthusiasm.
Two-time world champion Dilshod MANSUROV (UZB), 29, and double world medallist Naranbaatar BAYARAA (MGL), 32, are, along with VELIKOV, wrestling in their third Olympic Games.
Brandon ESCOBAR AMADOR (HON) will be the first wrestler from Honduras to compete in the Olympic Games. He finished in fifth place at the Pan American championships in February and was second in the Pan American qualifying tourney for London 2012.
BURROUGHS (USA) drawn to meet TSARGUSH (RUS) in semifinal of men's 74 kg freestyle wrestling
LONDON, 9 August - Favourites Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) and Denis TSARGUSH (RUS) appear set for a showdown in the semifinals of the men's freestyle wrestling 74kg competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games after Thursday's weigh-in and draw at ExCeL.
BURROUGHS was a surprise to many outside the USA when he won the 2011 world championship crown in Istanbul. Before that, BURROUGHS' only international experience was 10th at the 2008 junior world championships. In Istanbul, however, BURROUGHS' quickness and agility helped him overcome two-time world champion TSARGUSH, as well as 2010 Asian Games champion and world No.2 Sadegh GOUDARZI (IRI) in the final.
TSARGUSH won world titles in 2009 and 2010, but was stopped by BURROUGHS in the quarterfinals of last year's world championships. TSARGUSH appears to have reclaimed some momentum by winning the European and Russian national titles this year, including winning a duel with Sydney 2000 Olympic Games champion Adam SAITIEV (RUS) for the ticket to London.
GOUDARZI has silver medals from two world championships, finishing second to TSARGUSH in 2010 and BURROUGHS in 2011. He defeated 2010 world bronze medallist Abdulkhakim SHAPIYEV (KAZ) for the title of Asian champion in February 2012.
Davit KHUTSISHVILI (GEO) was runner-up in the 2012 European championships behind TSARGUSH. In 2011, the promising 21-year-old was a world bronze medallist, after losing to GOUDARZI in the quarterfinals, and won the FILA Golden Gran Prix tourney with a win over Ashraf ALIYEV (AZE). KHUTISHVILI is drawn to meet TSARGUSH in the quarterfinals.
ALIYEV has amassed a collection of silver and bronze medals from international competition in recent years, including a bronze medal from the 2011 world championships, but never gold.
Soslan TIGIEV (UZB) was the silver medallist at Beijing 2008, but has only seen limited action since. In Feburary, he took a bronze medal at the Ukraine international event along with KHUTISHVILI.
Kiril TERZIEV (BUL) won a bronze medal at Beijing 2008, but has not made any of the world-level medal finals in this Olympic cycle.