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|2005 World Championships preview at 84 kg/185 lbs. in menís freestyle wrestling|
By John Fuller TheMat.com
Most of the top wrestlers from the Olympic Games at 84 kg/185 lbs. in men's freestyle will be back this year for the World Championships.
One notable missing wrestler? Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson of the United States. Sanderson has not retired, but he has not competed since Athens either. This year, the U.S. will send Mo Lawal at this weight class.
Lawal does not have much international experience, but he seems to be a quick learner. He did not start wrestling until his sophomore year in high school, and has improved with every year. Every year there seems to be a couple new faces on the scene that win gold medals. This could be one of them.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist and two-time World silver medalist Eui-Jae Moon of Korea also has not competed since Athens. He is 30 years old, and may be thinking of hanging his shoes up as well. Min-Jin Park represented Korea at the Asian Championships, but only placed ninth.
Sazhid Sazhidov of Russia, who won a World title in 2003 and a bronze medal at last year's Olympic Games, placed second at the Russian Nationals this year. However, he did not compete in the finals due to problems with his back. If he is healthy, expect him to be in this lineup, otherwise look for either Russian Nationals champion Snirvani Muradov, who also won a gold at the Junior European Championships, or European Championships bronze medalist Nauruz Temrezov, who took a bronze at the Russian Nationals.
Four-time World medalist and 2000 Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero of Cuba won a gold medal at this year's World Cup, proving that he is ready to come back and win his first World title since 1999. Romero placed fourth at last year's Olympic Games, losing close bouts to Sanderson and Sazhidov, making him a heavy favorite going into this year.
Iran could send either 27 year-old Majid Khodaee, who won a bronze medal at the 2002 World Championships and a silver medal at the 2005 World University Games, or 24 year-old Mahdi Khodaee, who placed fifth at the Olympic Games last year. Yes, they are two different wrestlers. Both have shown the ability to win medals at World-level events. Saeed Ebrahimi, also of Iran, won a gold medal at this year's Asian Championships.
Taras Danko of Ukraine, only 25 years old, could be a wrestler to watch out for this year. He placed seventh at the Olympic Games last year, but then came back to win the European Championships this year, defeating Lazaros Loizidis of Greece, who placed sixth in Athens last year, and Serhat Balci of Turkey.
Loizidis is another strong wrestler, winning a bronze medal at the European Championships after the loss to Danko. He has also competed in two Olympic Games.
Turkey could send either Balci, also an up-and-coming star, or veteran Goekhan Yavaser, who competed in the Olympic Games last year and won a bronze medal at the World University Games this year.
2003 World bronze medalist and 2004 Olympian Revaz Mindorashvili of Georgia has had trouble competing with the younger wrestlers the last two years, placing fifth at the European Championships. However, he has placed in the top seven at the last three World Championships, showing he is not a competitor to be taken lightly.
Two-time Olympian David Bichinashvili of Germany is also expected to be back after placing fifth at the European Championships this year.
It will be interesting to see if 37 year-old Nicolae Ghita of Romania steps back onto the mat this year. Ghita has competed in four Olympic Games, placing ninth last year. Ghita placed eighth in the 2000 Olympic Games as well. He has competed in five World Championships, placing in the top 10 three times, including a fourth-place finish in 1994. Eugen Preda did not place for Romania at this year's European Championships.
The new faces controlled the continental championships this year.
At the European Championships, Danko won gold, followed by Balci with a silver. Temrezov and Loizidis won bronze medals.
At the Asian Championships, Ebrahimi defeated Takao Isokawa of Japan, as 21 year-old who could surprise some people this year. S. Ruslhn of Kyrgyzstan and Anuj Kumor of India won bronze medals.
The United States, Cuba and Russia have absolutely dominated this weight class over the last four years. With some new faces stepping onto the mats this year for most of the other countries, and the possibility of a different Russian along with Lawal, there should be a lot of exciting matches between young competitors trying to prove themselves this year.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2004 Olympic Games results
84 kg/185 lbs. - Gold - Cael Sanderson (USA); Silver - Moon Eui Jae (Korea); Bronze - Sazhid Sazhidov (Russia) dec. Yoel Romero (Cuba), 5-3; 5th - Mahdi Khodaei (Iran) dec. Lazaro Loizidis (Greece), 3-0; 7th - Taras Danko (Ukraine); 8th - Shamil Aliev (Tajikistan); 9th - Nicolae Ghita (Romania); 10th - Hideakazu Yokoyama (Japan)
2003 World Championships results
84 kg/185 lbs. - Gold - Sazhid Sazhidov (Russia) dec. Cael Sanderson (United States), 4-3; Bronze - Revaz Mindorashvili (Georgia) dec. Siarhei Borchanka (Belarus), 6-2; 5th - Magomed Kurugliyev (Kazakhstan); 6th - Yoel Romero (Cuba); 7th - Gokhan Yavaser (Turkey); 8th - Mamed Agaev (Armenia); 9th - Nicolae Ghita (Romania); 10th - Vincent Aka Akesse (France)
2002 World Championships results
84 kg/185 lbs. - Gold - Adam Saitiev (Russia) dec. Yoel Romero (Cuba), 4-3, ot, 6:14; Bronze - Mahdi Khodaee (Iran) dec. Arkadiy Tzopa (Bulgaria), 7-1; 5th - Marcin Jurecki (Poland); 6th - D. Mindorashvili (Georgia); 7th - Adam Sanakoev (Uzbekistan); 8th - Andre Backhaus (Germany); 9th - Kim Jang-Soo (Korea); 10th - Robert Eggertswyler (Switzerland)
2001 World Championships results
85 kg/187.25 lbs. - Gold - Khajimourad Magomedov (Russia) dec. Brandon Eggum (USA), 3-0, ot; Bronze - Yoel Romero (Cuba) dec. Betbulat Musaev (Belarus), 3-0; 5th - Rasul Katinavasov (Uzbekistan); 6th - Arkadiy Tzopa (Bulgaria); 7th - Andre Backhaus (Germany); 8th - Magomed Kurugliyev (Kazakhstan); 9th - L. Loizidis (Greece); 10th - Marcin Jurecki (Poland)