Zain Retherford in action on Sunday at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Zain Retherford in action on Sunday at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey.


Match Notes: Retherford wins Olympic playoff match, qualifies for Paris Olympics

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Watch: World Olympic Games Qualifier Interviews

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Zain Retherford battled back in the 65 kg repechage, needing four wins on Sunday to finish in third place and earn the final Olympic quota in his weight class. He did just that, becoming the sixth and final member of the U.S. men’s freestyle team to solidify a spot at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Retherford brought home a win by fall over Alibeg Alibegov of Bahrain, a 5-2 decision over Abdulmazhid Kudiev of Tajikistan and a 2-2 criteria victory over Sujeet Sujeet of India to make the Olympic playoff match at the World Olympic Games Qualifier. He took down Individual Neutral Athlete Niurgun Skriabin from Belarus, 7-0, to end a masterful run in Istanbul.

Here are the updated notes from all of Retherford’s wrestle-back matches.

65 kg – Zain Retherford

Olympic Playoff Match – WIN Niurgun Skriabin (Individual Neutral Athlete), 7-0

Retherford got on the board first with a shot clock point at the two-minute mark of the first period. He exploded through a single leg, driving Skriabin across the length of the mat to take a 3-0 lead to the break. His forward pressure paid off once again as Skriabin was forced into a tough shot attempt, which Retherford countered in the opening seconds of the second period. Up 5-0, Retherford went back to his right-side flanker tilt from top, adding a set of exposure points to build his lead to seven. He rode strong defense for the remainder of the match to earn the title of Olympian.

Bronze Medal Match – WIN Sujeet Sujeet (India), 2-2

Retherford was relentless with his forward pressure throughout the match. Midway through the first period, Retherford got in deep on a low single, was driving through Sujeet for the finish, but was countered for two. Heading into the second period trailing, 2-0, Retherford’s pace paid off. He capitalized on an errant shot attempt by Sujeet for a go-behind takedown, taking the lead on criteria, 2-2. His defense held firm for the rest of the match, cementing the win and his place in the bronze medal Olympic playoff match.

Note: Sujeet was a U20 World bronze medalist in 2022 and has won the Asian Championships at the U20 and U23 age levels.

Repechage #2 – WIN Abdulmazhid Kudiev (Tajikistan), 5-2

Retherford shot in on a single leg right off the whistle, eventually driving Kudiev out-of-bounds for a point. Kudiev got in deep on a single leg attempt but was unable to score due to Retherford’s solid scrambling. Retherford capitalized on Kudiev’s persistent attacks on his right leg with a timely re-shot single leg, adding on two more points before the break. Retherford picked up a strong double leg takedown 30 seconds into the second period to open up a 5-0 lead. He played the hand fight game the remainder of the match. Kudiev managed a takedown with 8 seconds left to bring the final score to 5-2.

Note: Kudiev finished in ninth place at the 2023 Senior World Championships. He was a U23 Asian Championships gold medalist in 2023.

Repechage #1 – WIN Alibeg Alibegov (Bahrain), fall, 2:37

Retherford opened up the scoring at the 45-second mark with a front headlock toss for four points. He was countered with exposure by Alibegov during the exchange, resulting in a 4-2 score in favor of Retherford. Upon returning to neutral standing, Retherford countered an Alibegov knee pick attempt for his first chance on top, and he made the most of it. Retherford went back to his folkstyle roots, throwing in a boot on the right side, tilting Alibegov three times before sliding off the boot into a half nelson for the fall in 2:37.

Note: Alibegov was a U20 World bronze medalist in 2021. He finished with bronze at the U23 Asian Championships in 2022.

Follow Team USA in Turkey

The World Olympic Games Qualifier is available to watch live on 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 USA Wrestling will provide complete coverage of the event on and its social media platforms. Join the conversation using #WrestleIstanbul.

U.S. Men’s Freestyle Results

WIN Ben Tarik (Morocco), tech. fall, 10-0

WIN Wanhao Zou (China), 10-9

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

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

WIN Stefan Coman (Romania), fall, 4:38

WIN Ibrahim Guzan (Yemen), tech. fall, 11-0

LOSS Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia), 7-2

WIN Alibeg Alibegov (Bahrain), fall, 2:37

WIN Abdulmazhid Kudiev (Tajikistan), 5-2

WIN Sujeet Sujeet (India), 2-2

WIN Niurgun Skriabin (Individual Neutral Athlete), 7-0