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2006 World Championships preview at 60 kg/132 lbs. in menís Greco-Roman wrestling

Two-time Olympic champion Armen Nazarian of Bulgaria has been considered one of the world's top wrestlers over the last decade. He made a reputation for himself as a great lifter and thrower, and captured his Olympic titles in 1996 and 2000. He also won World titles in 2002 and 2003. At the 2004 Olympic Games, Nazarian won a bronze medal, and many wondered if his career would continue.

In 2005, the rules of Greco-Roman wrestling changed to include the reverse lift position in every period. This modification fit perfectly within the style that Nazarian used throughout his career. It was not a surprise that at the 2005 World meet in Hungary, under the new rules, Nazarian returned to the top of the weight class by winning another World title. Although he has not competed much since, it would not be a surprise to see him at the World Championships again, looking to add to his gold medal collection.

Nazarian defeated Iran's Ali Askhani in the World finals last year. Askani won the title at the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals, a boost heading into the World meet. Askhani wrestled in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, and has won the World University Championships and the Asian Championships. However, his silver at the 2005 World meet in Budapest was his first World medal on the Senior level.

The two World bronze medalists last year were Eusebiu Diaconu of Romania and Peter Svehla of the Czech Republic. Diaconu was second behind Askhani at the FILA Golden Grand Priz finals this year but ended 17th at the Europeans. He also won a World bronze medal in 2003.

Svehla was seventh at the 2006 European Championships. He has been wrestling on the World level as a Senior since 1994, and his best finish prior to last year was at 2003 World Championships when he placed fourth at 55 kg.

The 2004 Olympic champion was Jung Ji Hyun of Korea, who basically came out of nowhere to win the tournament. He has been wrestling up at 66 kg recently, including a silver medal at that weight class at the 2005 World University Championships and a gold at the 2006 Asian Championships. Korea boasts the reigning University World champion, Hyuk Eom, who won that title this summer in Mongolia.

Roberto Monzon of Cuba, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist and three-time World medalist, is also a veteran who can challenge any year. He finished out of the medals at the 2005 World meet. Since then, he took second place at the 2006 World Cup. Monzon has never won a World gold medal, and would like to claim at least one before his career is through. 2001 World champion Dilshod Aripov of Uzbekistan is another top talent. Aripov was eighth at the World Championships last year.

The European champion this year was Karen Mnatsakanyan of Armenia, who was a World silver medalist in 2001. Georgia' David Bedinadze took the silver behind Mnatsakanyan, and the two bronze medals went to Vyascheslav Djaste of Russia and Fuad Aliyev of Azerbaijan. Except for Mnatsakanyan, all of these European medallists are still making their name on the international level. It will be interesting to see if they continue their progress at the World meet this year. Aliyev was third at the FILA Golden Grand Prix, a strong finish in a field of top international athletes.

Djaste is among the many options for his country at this weight. Russia could be also represented by Alexey Shevtsov, who was fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games, or 2006 Junior World champion Islambek Albiev.

Makoto Sasamoto of Japan, who was fifth at the 2004 Olympics, remains a strong threat. Sasamoto also won a bronze medal at the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals this year. He also wrestled in the 2000 Olympic Games, making him one of the competitors with the most experience at this level.

Istvan Majoros of Hungary was the 2004 Olympic champion at 55 kg, but moved up and was fifth at the European meet this year up at 60 kg. If he stays up at this division, the World Championships should be a test if he can handle the increase in weight.

Joe Warren of the United States was ninth in the World last year, and returns with additional experience. Warren spent many years learning the craft from World-class athletes in the USA such as Jim Gruenwald and Dennis Hall. He wrestles with an energy and passion that makes him very difficult to beat.

Nurbakhyt Tenizbayev of Kazakhstan was the Asian Champion this year. He has also won a silver medal and a bronze medal at past Asian Championships, and competed in the 2004 Olympic Games. Winning the 2006 Asian Championships silver medal was Jiang Sheng of China, with Bae Myung-Hwan of Korea taking a bronze medal.

Vahan Juharyan of Amernia, Laszlo Kliment of Hungary and Oleksei Vakulenko of Ukraine were World placewinners last year. Vakulenko was fifth at the European Championships this year. Other athletes to watch include Davor Stefanek of Serbia and Montenegro, Vitaly Rahimov of Azerbaijan and Bunyamin Emik of Turkey.

Will the World Championships in China once again be the Armen Nazarian high-amplitude show, or will one of the other experienced athletes make a strong run and win the gold medal? This weight class has great potential for unpredictable results.


2005 World Championships results
60 kg/ 132 lbs. - Gold - Armen Nazarian (Bulgaria); Silver - Ali Askhani (Iran); Bronze - Eusebiu Diaconu (Romania); Bronze - Peter Svehla (Czech Republic); 5th - Vahan Juharyan (Armenia); 5th - Laszlo Kliment (Hungary); 7th - Oleksei Vakulenko (Ukraine); 8th - Dilshod Aripov (Uzbekistan); 9th - Joe Warren (USA); 10th - Makoto Sasamoto (Japan)

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
60 kg/ 132 lbs. - 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)

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