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2012 Olympic Games preview at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman



Date of competition: Monday, August 6

It would be hard to disagree that Cuban Greco-Roman heavyweight Mijain Lopez of Cuba has been one of the dominant wrestlers of the last decade, regardless of style. A 2008 Olympic champion and five-time World champion, Lopez has the power and athletic ability to manhandle his opponents in impressive fashion.

Based on past performances, it was remarkable that in the 2011 World Championships finals in Istanbul, Turkey, hometown hero Riza Kayaalp of Turkey defeated Lopez for the gold medal. Kayaalp, a two-time World bronze medalist coming into the Worlds, was able to stop the explosive offense that Lopez brings to the mat, while also able to score points on him. The victory puts a question mark in a weight class in which there has been an overwhelming favorite for so long. Kayaalp bring momentum from his title at the Olympic Test Event in London in December.

One must remember that Lopez has not won every major event he has entered. He lost in the finals of the 2006 World Championships to Russia’s Khassan Baroev, a 2004 Olympic champion who continues to succeed internationally. Baroev has not seen much action lately, but he was the Russian entry in the last Final Olympic Trials Qualifier in Finland and got the nation qualified. Baroev is Russia’s best hope for a medal, even without much recent action.

On paper, this weight class is loaded with talented and experienced competitors. Another past World champion in the field is Dremiel Byers of the United States, who won his World title in 2002 and also boasts World silver and bronze medals. Byers was seventh at the 2008 Olympics and has a fire burning in his belly to get a long-awaited Olympic medal. Byers qualified by winning the Pan American Olympic Qualifier. He dropped a controversial bout at the 2011 Worlds to eventual bronze medalist Nurmakhan Tinaliev of Kazakhstan in an early round. There is no doubt that Byers is still competitive with every athlete in this Olympic field.

Tinaliev has won World bronze medals for the last two years, and enters as a top Olympic medal contender. The other 2011 World bronze medalist was Bashir Asgari Babjanzadeh of Iran, who won his first Senior World medal of his career. Babjanzadeh has a strong background of age-group success on the World and continental levels, but was only seventh at the Olympic Test Event.

Another veteran still chasing an Olympic dream at age 37 is Hungary’s Mihaly Deak-Bardos, who was fifth at the 2011 World Championships. Deak-Bardos has been close to the top so many times, but has never gotten the gold, winning five World silver medals, with the first way back in 1997. His Olympic efforts have been disappointing, 11th in 2000, 10th in 2004 and eighth in 2008. Dreams die hard, and the Hungarian hopes that the fourth time is a charm.

Another veteran to watch is 2012 European Olympic qualifier champion Youri Patrikeev of Armenia. It was Patrikeev who was asked to be the next Russian heavyweight star after the retirement of Alexander Kareline, but he was never able to fill those shoes. After awhile, he moved on to Armenia, with great success. Patrikeev was a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, and has won three World medals, his most recent a silver medal at the 2010 World Championships.

Another World champion in the field is Heiki Nabi of Estonia, who captured the first Final Olympic Qualifier in China. He was a 2006 World champion at 96 kg who didn’t even qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Nabi jumped up to 120 kg in 2010, and has settled in with some success at the new weight.

Lukasz Banak of Poland, fifth at the 2011 World Championships, is also a solid threat. Never a World medalist, Banak’s third place at the Olympic Test Event is an encouraging result. Another to watch is Sweden’s Johan Magnus Euren, also third at the Olympic Test Event.

An athlete you can’t miss on the mat is China’s massive Deli Liu, easily the tallest competitor in the wrestling field. He won the Asian Olympic qualifier. You may remember him when he placed ninth at the 2008 Olympics, dropping a bout to Byers. Winning the Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier was Radhouane Chebbi of Tunisia. There won’t be any easy matches in this field. For instance, Georgia’s Guram Pherselidze, the last to qualify with a second place in the Finland qualifier, has a win over Byers at this year’s Curby Cup.

Regardless of the depth in the field, Lopez enters this event as a heavy favorite, seeking his second Olympic title. Kayaalp’s victory in the 2011 finals brings some new intrigue into this weight class. The question will be if the Olympic medals go to some of the veterans who continue to pursue their dreams, or if now is the time for some of the younger athletes to make their breakthrough.

Expected Olympic entries at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Greco-Roman
1st at 2011 World Championships – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)
2nd at 2011 World Championships – Mijain Lopez Nunez (Cuba)
3rd at 2011 World Championships – Nurmakhan Tinaliev (Kazakhstan)
3rd at 2011 World Championships – Bashir Asgari Babjanzadeh (Iran)
5th at 2011 World Championships – Mihaly Deak Bardos (Hungary)
5th at 2011 World Championships – Lukasz Banak (Poland)
2012 European Olympic qualifier champion – Youri Patrikeev (Armenia)
2012 European Olympic qualifier runner-up – Evgeni Orlov (Ukraine)
2012 Asian Olympic qualifier champion – Deli Liu (China)
2012 Asian Olympic qualifier runner-up – Muminjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan)
2012 Pan American Olympic qualifier champion – Dremiel Byers (United States)
2012 Pan American Olympic qualifier runner-up – Andres Ayub Valenzuela (Chile)
2012 Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier champion – Radhouane Chebbi (Tunisia)
2012 Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier runner-up – Yasser Abdelrahman Ali (Egypt)
Olympic Qualifier #1 champion – Heiki Nabi (Estonia)
Olympic Qualifier #1 runner-up – Iosif Chugoshvili (Belarus)
Olympic Qualifier #1 bronze medalist – Johan Magnus Euren (Sweden)
Olympic Qualifier #2 champion – Khassan Baroev (Russia)
Olympic Qualifier #2 runner-up – Guram Pherselidze (Georgia)

120 KG
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2011 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Silver - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Bronze - Nurmakhan Tinaliyev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Bashir Asgari Babanjazadeh Darzi (Iran); 5th - Mihály Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 5th - Lukasz Banak (Poland); 7th - Xenofon Koutsioumpas (Greece); 8th - Ivan Ivanov (Bulgaria); 9th - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 10th - Aleksandr Anuchin (Russia)

2010 World Championships
120kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold – Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver – Youri Patrikeev (Armenia); Bronze – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); Bronze – Nurmakhan Tinaliev (Kazakhstan); 5th – Dremiel Byers (United States); 5th – Marek Svec (Czech Republic); 7th – Khassan Baroev (Russia); 8th – Lukasz Banak (Poland); 9th – Johan Magnus Euren (Sweden); 10th – Guram Pherselidze (Georgia)

2009 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez Nunez (Cuba); Silver - Dremiel Byers (USA); Bronze - Jalmar Sjoeberg (Sweden); Bronze - Riza Kayaalp (Turkey); 5th - Nico Schmidt (Germany); 5th - Ioseb Chugoshvili (Belarus); 7th - Aleksandr Anunchin (Russia); 8th – Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Rafael Barreno (Venezuela); 10th - Marek Svec (Czech Republic)

2008 Olympics Games
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Khasan Baroev (Russia); Bronze - Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania); Bronze - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 5th - Yannick Szczepaniak (France); 5th - Jalmar Sjoberg (Sweden); 7th - Dremiel Byers (USA); 8th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 9th - Liu Deli (China); 10th - Anton Botev (Azberbaijan)

2007 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Gold - Mijain Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Khassan Baroev (Russia); Bronze - Dremiel Byers (United States); Bronze - Yuri Patrikeev (Armenia); 5th - Yannick Szczepaniak (France); 5th – Mihaly Deak Bardos (Hungary); 7th - Iosef Chugoshvili (Belarus); 8th –David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 9th - Georgiy Tsurtsumia (Kazakhstan); 10th – Muradyan Tuichiev (Tajikistan)

2006 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Gold - Khasan Baroev (Russia); Silver - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Bronze - Sergei Artsiukin (Belarus); Bronze - Ismail Guzel (Turkey); 5th - Jalmar Sjoberg (Sweden); 5th - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); 7th - Masoud Hashemzadeh (Iran); 8th - David Vala (Czech Republic); 9th - Dremiel Byers (United States); 10th - Mizgaitis Mindaugas (Lithuania)

2005 World Championships
120 kg/264.5 lbs.- Gold - Mijian Lopez (Cuba); Silver - Mihaly Deak-Bardos (Hungary); Bronze - Sergei Artsiukin (Belarus); Bronze - Yetka Yilmaz (Turkey); 5th - Georgi Tsursumia (Kazakhstan); 5th - Mindaugas Mizgaitis (Lithuania); 7th - Juha Ahokas (Finland); 8th - Kostayantyn Stryzhak (Ukraine); 9th - David Vala (Czech Republic); 10th - Serguei Mourieko (Bulgaria)

2004 Olympic Games
120 kg/264.5 lbs.- Gold - Khassan Baroev (Russia); Silver - Gerogiy Tsurtsumia (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Rulon Gardner (USA); 4th - Sajad Barzi (Iran); 5th -Mijain Lopez (Cuba); 6th - Yannick Szcepaniak (France); 7th - Xenofan Koutsioumpas (Greece); 8th - Serguey Moreyko (Bulgaria); 9th - Haykaz Galstyan (Armenia); 10th - Mihaly Bardos-Deak (Hungary)
Untitled Document
   
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