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|2005 World Championships preview at 60 kg/132 lbs. in menís Greco-Roman wrestling|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
The 2004 Athens Olympic Games brought some new heroes into wrestling, none more unexpected than gold medalist Jung Ji-Hyun of Korea, who had little international experience prior to the event. Jung wrestled with power and passion to take the gold medal. Korea qualified for the Olympics by taking third place at one of the special Olympic Qualifying tournaments, and Jung was not among the favorites going into the Athens Games. Jung wrestled up a weight at 66 kg at the World University Games, and captured a silver medal this summer.
Jung beat three-time World medalist Roberto Monzon of Cuba in the gold-medal finals in Athens. It seemed Monzon might finally take a gold medal, after many near misses, but Jung was at his peak during the finals. Monzon has been winning on the Pan American level for many years, and is always expected to be in the hunt for medals at the major events. He was a bronze medalist at the World University Games in Turkey in August.
The most dominant Greco-Roman star in this division has been two-time Olympic champion Armen Nazarian of Bulgaria, who also won World titles in 2002 and 2003. Nazarian claimed the bronze in Athens. When FILA changed Greco-Roman rules to make the reverse lift the new clinch, which is Nazarian's best move, his career may be revived and extended. Nazarian is known for his spectacular throws, and he will be placed in that position in both periods of every Greco-Roman match.
Rounding out the top six place winners in Athens were Alexsey Shevtsov of Russia, Makoto Sasamoto of Japan and Nurlan Koizhaiganov of Kazakhstan. There is good reason to expect that many of the stars from Athens will be in the hunt again this year.
The Pytlasinski Tournament in Poland, using the new FILA Greco-Roman rules, should be a strong indicator of athletes to watch in Budapest. Shevtsov won the gold medal there, with Sasamoto taking the silver medal. One of the bronze medals went to Nazarian, along with Vitaliy Rahimov of Azerbaijan. Rahimov also set the stage for success this year by winning a gold medal at the European Championships, and Shevtsov was one of the bronze medalists there. Sasamoto was an Asian Championships bronze medalist this year.
The continental championships saw a mix of veterans and new faces at this division. Eusebiu Diaconu of Romania was second at the European Championships, and David Bedinadze of Georgia claimed one of the bronze medals. At the Asian Championships, Iran's Ali Askhani, another proven athlete, won the title, ahead of Nurjan Jusupov of Kyrgysztan. Askani also won a gold medal at the World University Games this year, beating a loaded field which included Monzon and other top athletes.
The U.S. will feature a new No. 1, Joe Warren, who has paid his dues behind stars like Jim Gruenwald and Dennis Hall in recent seasons. Warren has won a number of medals at challenging international tournaments in recent years. He has the skill and passion to be very successful, now that he is getting his opportunity at the World level.
A question is whether the field will feature past stars like 2001 World champion Dilshod Aripov of Uzbekistan, 1996 Olympic champion Wlodziemierz Zawadzki of Poland, 2001 World silver medalist Karen Mnatskanyan of Armenia and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Akaki Chachua of Georgia. The new rules may extend the careers of some wrestlers. However, it would not be surprising if some talented new athletes use the World Championships in Budapest to launch their quest for a medal at the 2008 Olympic Games.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2004 Olympic Games results
60 kg/ 132 lbs. - Gold - Ji Hyun Jung (Korea); Silver - Roberto Monzon (Cuba); Bronze - Armen Nazarian (Bulgaria); 4th - Alexey Shevtsov (Russia); 5th - Makato Sasamoto (Japan); 6th - Nurlan Koizhaiganov (Kazakhstan); 7th - Eusebiu Iancu Diacono (Romania); 8th - Seref Tufenk (Turkey); 9th - Akaki Chachua (Georgia); 10th - Jim Gruenwald (USA)
2003 World Championships results
132 - Gold - Armen Nazarian (Bulgaria) dec. Roberto Monzon (Cuba), 6-2; Bronze - Eusebiu Diaconu (Romania) win by injury default over Jim Gruenwald (USA); 5th - Akaki Chachua (Georgia); 6th - Wlodzimierz Zawadzki (Poland); 7th - Bunyamin Emit (Turkey); 8th - Mohamed Ashraf (Egypt); 9th - Olexandr Khvoshch (Ukraine); 10th - Jurij Kohl (Germany)
2002 World Championships results
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Armen Nazarian (Bulgaria) dec. Wlodzimierz Zawadzki (Poland), 3-0; Bronze - Roberto Monzon Gonzalez (Cuba) dec. Oleksandr Khvosch (Ukraine), 3-0; 5th - Akaki Chachiya (Georgia); 6th - Asledin Khudoyberdiev (Uzbekistan); 7th - Ion Gaimer (Moldova); 8th - James Gruenwald (United States); 9th - Eusebiu Lancu Diaconu (Romania); 10th - Rustem Mambetov (Russia)
2001 World Championships results
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Gold - Dilshod Aripov (Uzbekistan) dec. Karen Mnatskanyan (Armenia), 6-3; Bronze - Roberto Monzon (Cuba) dec. Armen Nazarian (Bulgaria), 3-1, ot, 6:08; 5th - Makoto Sasamoto (Japan); 6th - Ali Ashkani (Iran); 7th - Djamel Ainaoui (France); 8th - Kang Kynug Il (Korea); 9th - Marian Sandu (Romania); 10th - Jim Gruenwald (United States)