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|2005 World Championships preview at 84 kg/185 lbs. in menís Greco-Roman wrestling|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Winning the 2004 Olympic gold medal was Russia's Aleksei Michine, who was also a 2001 World silver medalist down at 74 kg. Michine had to beat a deep field of stars just to make the Russian team. Russia also boasts Aleksandre Menshikov, a 2002 World silver medalist. This year, Michine remains a force, winning the 2005 European title in a very strong weight division.
In the gold-medal finals in Athens, Michine beat two-time World champion Ara Abrahamian of Sweden, who was also a 2003 World silver medalist. Abrahamian will attempt to make the gold-medal finals at the World level for the fifth straight year, which would be an amazing feat. Any athlete with two gold and two silver medals in consecutive years is among the greatest of his generation. He did not compete at the European Championships this year, so it is possible that he may not be there to defend this amazing streak.
The bronze medal in Athens went to veteran Viacheslav Makarenka of Belarus, who won his first World-level medal with a career-best performance. He placed 10th at the 2001 and 2002 World meets, so his performance at the Olympics was a bit surprising.
Just missing a medal in Athens was two-time Olympic champion Hamza Yerlikaya of Turkey, who was fourth in 2004, after winning gold medals in 1996 and 2000. Yerlikaya also won two World titles. He is still competing at the highest level, winning the 2005 European title up at 96 kg. People forget that Yerlikaya won his first World title as a 17 year-old, so he is not over the hill by any sense of the imagination. He has had a tendency to have up and down years during the cycle, but the victory at the European meet indicates that he may be back in the medal rounds again.
Others who just missed medals in Athens were Dimitros Avramis of Greece in fifth and Alexander Daragan of Ukraine in sixth. Daragan was a 2001 World bronze medalist, and he won a gold medal at the 2005 Pytlasinski Tournament, a key tuneup event for the World Championships. This was under the new Greco-Roman rules placed in effect in June, so it gives Daragan extra confidence heading into the World meet in Budapest.
Among the other medal hopefuls is Brad Vering of the United States, who was fifth in the World meet in 2002 and 2003 but did not place at the Athens Olympics. Vering continues to wrestle at a high level, even though the new rules do not favor his style. His fifth place at the Pytlasinski Tournament shows that Vering has the ability to battle for a medal in Budapest, perhaps one of the best chances of all American Greco-Roman athletes.
Others who could be in the hunt are 2003 World champion Gocha Ziziashvily of Israel and 2001 World champion Mukran Vakrangadze of Georgia. Neither placed in the top 10 at the Athens Olympics, so both will be motivated for a strong performance this year. Vakrangadze has remained competitive, winning a bronze medal at the Pytlasinski Tournament this summer.
Medalists from the 2005 European Championships include silver medalist Serkan Oezden of Turkey and bronze medallists Laimutis Adomaitis of Lithuania and Badri Khasia of Georgia. Khasia was a 2002 World silver medalist at 76 kg, and showed his skill at this division with a silver medal at the Pytlasinski Tournament in Poland a few months ago. Oezden could be a top medal threat here if Yerlikaya decides to stay up at 96 kg for the World meet. Another possible star for Turkey would be former World champion Nazmi Avluca.
Egypt has a strong contender in Mohammed Abd El Fattah, a 2002 World bronze medalist who scored a win over Vering at the Olympic Games. Levon Geghamyan of Armenia has shown an ability to reach the medal rounds at the World level, taking fourth at the 2002 World Championships. Attila Batky of Slovakia was a 2003 World bronze medalist,
Host Hungary may bring back one of its top stars, 2000 Olympic silver medalist Sandor Bardosi, who was fifth at the European Championships this year. Fritz Aanes of Norway is another medal contender, placing fourth in the 2003 World Championships. Aanes also had a fourth-place finish at the 2000 Olympics taken away after a positive steroid test in Sydney.
The champion at the Pan American Championships was veteran Luis Mendez of Cuba, a 1999 World champion who was fifth at the 2000 Olympics. From the Asian Championships this year, champion Kim Jung-Sub of Korea and runner-up Shingo Matsumoto of Japan are serious challengers. Matsumoto was seventh at the Athens Olympics. Iran has developed a powerful contender in Ghasem Rezaie, who was second at the Junior World Championships and a bronze medalist at the Pytlasinski Tournament. Yanarbek Kenyaev of Kyrgyzstan was the 2005 Junior World champion at this division.
Any way you look at this division, there is a ton of depth and talent throughout the brackets. Abrahamian has shown an amazing knack of making the gold-medal finals. Michine proved his dominance with the win at the Athens Olympics. Yerlikaya is one of the greatest wrestlers in world history. Numerous other medal hopefuls litter this weight division, promising some amazing early battles and perhaps a few surprises in Budapest this year.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2004 Olympic Games results
84 kg/185 lbs. - Gold - Aleksei Michine (Russia); Silver -Ara Abrahamian (Sweden); Bronze -Viacheslav Makaranka (Belarus); 4th -Hamza Yerlikaya (Turkey); 5th - Dimitros Avramis (Greece); 6th - Oleksandr Daragan (Ukraine); 7th - Shingo Matsumoto (Japan); 8th - Levon Geghamyan (Armenia); 9th - Behrouz Jamshidi (Iran); 10th - Attila Batky (Slovakia)
2003 World Championships results
185 - Gold - Gocha Ziziashvilly (Israel) won by ref. dec. over Ara Abrahamian (Sweden), 2-0, ot, 9:00; Bronze - Attila Batky (Slovakia) decl Fritz Aanes (Norway), 3-2; 5th - Brad Vering (USA); 6th - Murhban Vakhtangadze (Georgia); 7th - Hamza Yerlikaya (Turkey); 8th - Viachaslav Makaranka (Belarus); 9th - Melonin Noumonvi (France); 10th - Tarvi Thomberg (Estonia)
2002 World Championships results
84 kg/185 lbs. - Gold - Ara Abrahamian (Sweden) dec. Aleksandre Menshikov (Russia), 3-1; Bronze - Mohamed Ibrahim Abd El Fattah (Egypt) dec. Levon Geghamyan (Armenia), 5-0; 5th - Brad Vering (United States); 6th - Hamza Yerlikaya (Turkey); 7th - Bojan Mijatov (Yugoslavia); 8th - Cotcha Tsitsiashvili (Israel); 9th - Mukhran Vakhtangadze (Georgia); 10th - Viachaslav Makaranka (Belarus)
2001 World Championships results
85 kg/187.25 lbs. - Gold - Mukran Vakrangadze (Georgia) won by ref. dec. over Matt Lindland (United States), 2-1, ot; Bronze - Oleksei Dorogan (Ukraine) dec. Alexandre Menshikov (Russia), 3-2, ot, 6:33; 5th - Sandor Bardosi (Hungary); 6th - Martin Lidberg (Sweden); 7th - Luis Mendez (Cuba); 8th - Evgeniy Erofaylov (Uzbekistan); 9th - Hamza Yerlikaya (Turkey); 10th - Viachaslau Makaranka (Belarus)