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2006 World Championships preview at 74 kg/163 lbs. in menís Greco-Roman wrestling

Varteras Samourgashev of Russia won the World title at this division in 2005, stopping Mark Madsen of Denmark in an intense finals last year. He was a 2000 Olympic gold medalist at 63 kg, then moved up in weight to win an Olympic bronze medal at this division in 2004. Samourgashev also won a 2002 World title at 74 kg. Samourgashev won the European title this year, showing that he is ready to defend his title again this year. He was second in the World Cup in both 2005 and 2006.

If Russia ever wanted to make a change here, they also had the World champion at this division back in 2003, Alexei Glushkov. You can count on the Russian entry to be a medal contender at this weight class every year.

Madsen surprised many by making the World finals last year, and his battle with Samourgashev was close and controversial. His only other medal of significance in his career at any age level was a European Junior title in 2004. Madsen has not been very active this year so far, so his prospects for this year's event seem a bit uncertain.

A pair of veteran stars won the World bronze medals last year, 1997 World champion Marko Yli-Hannuksela of Finland and 2003 World silver medalist Konstantin Schneider of Germany.

Yli-Hannuksela is among the veterans who have a chance to medal every time they enter. He also won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and has been competing on the Senior level since 1994. Schneider's Senior level career also goes back to 1995, and includes a World silver medal in 2003 and a seventh place finish at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Oleg Mikhalovitch of Belarus was the European silver medalist this year and won a European bronze medal in 2004. He has not yet competed at the World Championships for Belarus, however. Another option for Belarus is veteran Alexander Kikinov, who was second in the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals and has competed at a number of World meets in the past.

One of the European bronze medalists was Manuchar Kvirkelia of Georgia, a World champion at 66 kg in 2003. Kvirkelia was 10th in the World Championships last year. The other European bronze medalist was Mahmut Altay of Turkey, who was ninth in the Worlds last year. Altay, who was fifth at the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals this year, has yet to win his first World medal.

Ilgar Abdulov of Azerbaijan won the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals this year, and was eighth in the Worlds last year. Abdulov competed in major Senior level events for the first time last year, after a number of age-group competitions representing Azerbaijan.

2004 Olympic champion Alexander Dokturishvili dropped to seventh in the World last year, and has been wrestling up at 84 kg in some international events this year. Since he is not very tall, Dokturishvili will probably be down to 74 kg if he is wrestling this summer. He was an Asian champion in 2004 and a European champion representing Georgia back in 2001.

Davoud Abedinzadeh of Iran was the 2006 Asian champion, beating Daniar Kobonov of Kyrgyzstan in the finals. Abedinzadeh was the 2005 Junior World champion, and placed second in the Junior Worlds this year. Another competitor for Iran in recent major events is Mehdi Mohammadi, who wrestled at the World Championships last year. Kobonov was third in the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals this year and competed in the 2004 Olympic Games.

Placing fifth at the World meet last year were Reto Bucher of Switzerland and Mohammad Babulfath of Sweden. Bucher, who was fourth at the 2004 Olympics, was seventh at the European Championships this year. Babulfath also competed at the Olympics in Athens, Greece, and was fifth in the European meet. Both seek their first major World-level medal.

The U.S. entry is T.C. Dantzler, who has been to three previous World meets and seeks his first medal. Dantzler's top international achievement was a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. He has had his career revived with the reverse-lift position added to Greco-Roman, something he can do with the best of them.

This is a weight class where Cuba has yet to establish a top star, with the retirement of two-time Olympic champion Filiberto Azcuy after the 2004 Athens Games. Last year, Odelis Herrero competed at the World Championships and placed 12th, then won a gold medal at the 2006 World Cup. Winning the Pan American Championships this year was Pablo Chorey. Do not be surprised if the Cuban entry makes an impact on the world level this year.

The 2006 Junior World champion was Mehmet Uemit Bedel of Turkey. Claiming the World University Championships gold medal the last two years was Seref Tuefenk of Turkey. Tuefenk competed at the 2004 Olympic Games down at 66 kg.


2005 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Varteres Samurgachev (Russia); Silver - Mark Madsen (Denmark); Bronze - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); Bronze - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 5th - Reto Bucher (Switzerland); 5th - Mohammad Babulfath (Sweden); 7th - Aleksandr Dokturishvili (Uzbekistan); 8th - Ilgar Abdulov (Azerbaijan); 9th - Mahmut Altaly (Turkey); 10th - Manuchar Kvirkvelia (Georgia)

2004 Olympic Games results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Alexandr Dokturishvili (Uzbekistan); Silver - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); Bronze - Varteres Samourachev (Russia); 4th - Reto Bucher (Switzerland); 5th - Danil Khalimov (Kazakhstan); 6th -Filiberto Azcuy (Cuba); 7th - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 8th - Tamas Berzicza (Hungary); 9th - Alberto Jose Recuero (Spain); 10th - Duk Hoon Choi (Korea)

2003 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Alexei Glushkov (Russia) dec. Konstantin Schneider (Germany), 3-0; Bronze - Jin Soo Kim (Korea) dec. Danil Khalimov (Kazakhstan), 3-0 ot; 5th - Volokymyr Shats'kykh (Ukraine); 6th - Aliaksandr Kikiniou (Belarus); 7th - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); 8th - Yakov Menasherov (Israel); 9th - Viuga Aslanov (Azerbaijan); 10th - Katsuhiko Nagata (Japan)

2002 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Varteres Samourgashev (Russia) dec. Badri Khasaia (Georgia), 3-0; Bronze - Filiberto Ascuy (Cuba) dec. Volodymir Shatskikh (Ukraine), 5-1; 5th - Tamas Berzicza (Hungary); 6th - Michal Jaworski (Poland); 7th - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 8th - Aleksandr Kikiniov (Belarus); 9th - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); 10th - Dzhakhombir Turdiev (Uzbekistan)

2001 World Championships results
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold - Filiberto Azcuy (Cuba) dec. Alexei Gloushkov (Russia), 4-0; Bronze - Rustem Adzhy (Ukraine) pin Jimmy Samuelson (Sweden), 1:28; 5th - Moises Sanchez (Spain); 6th - Parviz Zaidvand (Iran); 7th - Song Sang Pil (Korea); 8th - Maxim Schwindt (Germany); 9th - Ondrej Jaros (Czech Republic); 10th - Mahmut Altay (Turkey)

2001 World Championships results
76 kg/167.5 - Gold - Ara Abrahamjian (Sweden) pin Alexei Michine (Russia), 5:04; Bronze - Kim Jin Soo (Korea) dec. Sergiy Solodkyy (Ukraine), 3-0; 5th - Tamas Berzicza (Hungary); 6th - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); 7th - Bakhtiyar Baiseitov (Kazakhstan); 8th - Odelis Herrero (Cuba); 9th - Artur Michalkiewicz (Poland); 10th - Dimitris Avramis (Greece)

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