Spencer Lee works a leg lace against Vladimir Egorov of Macedonia in the 57 kg men’s freestyle quarterfinals at the World Olympic Games Qualifier.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Spencer Lee works a leg lace against Vladimir Egorov of Macedonia in the 57 kg men’s freestyle quarterfinals at the World Olympic Games Qualifier.


Match notes: Lee wins semifinals at World Olympic Games Qualifier, Retherford pulled into repechage

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Watch: World Olympic Games Qualifier Interviews

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Men’s freestyle is underway at the 2024 World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey. Spencer Lee and Zain Retherford are representing Team USA, needing to place in the top three of their weight classes to earn a Paris Olympic quota.

As the first day of mens' freestyle comes to a close, the U.S. earned its fifth Olympic quota in the style from Lee at 57 kg, and is still in the running for No. 6 as Retherford was pulled into the 65 kg repechage. Retherford will take the mats at 3 p.m. local time/8 a.m. (ET) for his first repechage match against Alibeg Alibegov of Bahrain.

Follow along with updated notes from each men’s freestyle match.

Spencer Lee, 2024 World Olympic Games Qualifier, May 11, Istanbul, Turkey (Photo by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling)

57 kg – Spencer Lee

Semifinals – WIN Rakhat Kalzhan (Kazakhstan), tech. fall, 10-0

As the first Olympic qualification match of the evening session, Lee wasted no time in getting the crowd fired up. He connected on an outside fireman’s carry, dumping Kalzhan to his side, all the while locking up a lethal trapped-arm gut wrench. Four turns later and the rest, as they say, is history. Lee is on to Paris, with a 10-0 technical fall in 35 seconds.

Note: Kalzhan is two-time Asian Championships medalist.

Quarterfinals – WIN Vladimir Egorov (Macedonia), tech. fall, 12-2

Lee struck fast with a masterful inside arm/over-collar tie drag for a takedown, which he converted directly into a trapped-arm gut wrench. Picking up two turns from the trapped-arm, Lee was exposed himself on one of the turns, but floated his hips right back on top for a third set of exposure points, taking an 8-2 lead. Lee wrapped the match up with two quick leg laces to secure a 12-2 technical fall in 54 seconds.

Note: Egorov is a former Russian wrestling for Macedonia. He was a European champion in 2022. At the European Olympic Games Qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan, Egorov lost to Aliabbas Rzazade of Azerbaijan in the semifinal/Olympic qualifying match, 4-3.

Round-of-16 – WIN Wanhao Zou (China), 10-9

Zou opened the scoring with an overhook throw-by takedown at the 25 second mark, ending up on top going out of bounds. Lee got on the board with a step out point. Zou came right back with a four-point single leg takedown on the edge of the mat to go up 6-1 halfway through the first period. Lee executed a gorgeous arm drag to cross-body single leg, right into his leg lace, which he nailed three times. Lee took a 10-6 lead into the second period. The second frame was a much slower pace. Zou wrestled from space, waiting until the end to take his shot. Zou converted a single leg, step out with 19 seconds left to cut the lead to 10-7. Zou came right back with a double leg takedown and ended the match on top without turning Lee. Final score, 10-9.

Note: Zou was the No. 1 seed in the 57 kg weight class. He was a U23 World bronze medalist in 2018 and has finished in the top ten at the last two Senior World Championships.

Round-of-32 – WIN Ben Tarik (Morocco), tech. fall, 10-0

Lee opened the scoring with a head-in-the-hole go-behind takedown. He transitioned the takedown directly into a leg lace, which he hit four time consecutively to end the match via 10-0 technical fall in 23 seconds.

Zain Retherford, 2024 World Olympic Games Qualifier, May 11, Istanbul, Turkey (Photo by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling)

65 kg – Zain Retherford

Round-of-16 – LOSS Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia), 7-2

A strong hand fight set the tone for the bulk of this match. Tumur Ochir opened the scoring in the first period with an unconventional arm spin takedown. He took a 2-0 lead to the break over Retherford. With just over two minutes left in the match, Retherford was put on the shot clock. He scored a single leg takedown as the shot clock expired to take the lead on criteria, 2-2. Tumur Ochir executed a standing single leg, exposing Retherford’s back in the process, to take a 6-2 lead with 30 seconds remaining in the contest. The U.S. corner challenged the call and lost, giving an additional point to Mongolia before time expired.

With the 7-2 loss on his ledger, Retherford was reliant on Tumur Ochir to make the finals to be pulled back into the tournament. Tumur Ochir did just that by taking out Sujeet of India in the semifinals, 6-1.

Note: Tumur Ochir competed at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He is a 2021 World bronze medalist, 2024 Asian silver medalist and 2023 Asian Games champion.

Round-of-32 – WIN Ibrahim Guzan (Yemen), tech. fall, 11-0

Retherford fired off a single leg takedown in the first 20 seconds of the match to take an early 2-0 lead. He added a step out point, which was deemed fleeing, which put Guzan down in par terre upon the restart. Retherford got to work on top with a power half and flanker, bagging two turns and nearly picking up a pin. He iced the match 11-0 in 3:37 with a double leg takedown right into a bottom leg turn to expose Guzan.

Round-of-64 – WIN Stefan Coman (Romania), fall, 4:38

Retherford scored the first point of the match from the shot clock but gave up a takedown shortly thereafter. He came back with a crisp takedown just before the break to lead, 3-2. The second period was all Retherford. He mustered a pair of powerful double leg takedowns, the second being feet-to-back, to take command. Coman all but surrendered on the final takedown, being pinned by Retherford in 4:38.

Note: Coman was eighth at the 2024 European Championships, fifth at 2023 European Championships and earned a bronze medal at this year’s Henri Deglane Grand Prix, which was won by American Aden Valencia.

Follow Team USA in Turkey

The World Olympic Games Qualifier is available to watch live on Flowrestling.com. Brackets and real-time results will be available on UWW Arena.

For more information about the World Olympic Games Qualifier please visit the official event website at uww.org. USA Wrestling will provide complete coverage of the event on TheMat.com and its social media platforms. Join the conversation using #WrestleIstanbul.

Men’s Freestyle Semifinal/Olympic Qualification Results

57 kg

Spencer Lee (United States) tech. fall Rakhat Kalzhan (Kazakhstan), 10-0

Aman Aman (India) tech. fall Chongsong Han (North Korea), 12-2

65 kg

Islam Dudaev (Albania) tech. fall Erik Arushanian (Ukraine), 12-2

Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia) dec. Sujeet Sujeet (India), 6-1

74 kg

Viktor Rassadin (Tajikistan) dec. Chermen Valiev (Albania), 3-2

Taimuraz Salkazanov (Slovakia) dec. Soner Demirtas (Turkey), 4-2

86 kg

Dauren Kurugliev (Greece) dec. Vasyl Mykhailov (Ukraine), 3-0

Magomed Ramazanov (Bulgaria) dec. Vladimeri Gamkrelidze (Georgia), 5-3

97 kg

Erik Thiele (Germany) dec. Radu Lefter (Moldova), 3-0

Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland) dec. Awusayiman Habila (China), 2-2

125 kg

Aiaal Lazarev (Kyrgyzstan) tech. fall Daniel Ligeti (Hungary), 12-2

Zhiwei Deng (China) dec. Jose Diaz Robertti (Venezuela), 4-0