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Olympic Games preview at 77 kg in Greco-Roman: World champions Lorincz and Chekhirkin headline up-for-grabs weight class

by Mike Willis, USA Wrestling

Draw: August 1
Dates of competition: Monday, August 2 and Tuesday, August 3

U.S. representative: No entry

While the top-end talent at 77 kg might not make your jaw drop like some of the other weight classes, it will be an interesting bracket to observe due to the lack of heavy favorites.

2019 World champion Tamas Lorincz of Hungary comes into the tournament as the top seed. Lorincz is a seasoned competitor making an impressive fourth-straight Olympic Games appearance. His lone Olympic medal came at the 2012 Games where he finished with a silver. He is also a two-time World silver medalist (2017, 2018) and a 2014 World bronze medalist.

The other World champion in the field is Russia’s Aleksandr Chekhirkin. To make the team, Chekhirkin earned the nod over reigning two-time Olympic champion Roman Vlasov and 2019 72 kg World champion Abuyazid Mantsigov. Chekhirkin is a 2018 World champion (where he bested Tamas Lorincz in the finals) and a 2019 European Games champion. He won the European Olympic Qualifier to claim the Olympic berth for Russia.

Alex Bjurberg Kessidis of Sweden enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed. After a fifth-place performance at the 2018 World Championships, Bjurberg Kessidis earned his first World medal, finishing runner-up at the 2019 World Championships. Since then, he has primarily competed at 82 kg, only dropping down to 77 kg for the 2020 European Championships, where he earned bronze.

Armenia’s Karapet Chalyan is the No. 3 seed. Chalyan secured his Olympic berth with a fifth-place performance at the 2019 World Championships. He is a 2019 European Games silver medalist, falling to Aleksandr Chekhirkin in the finals. Additionally he is a 2020 European Championships bronze medalist and a 2013 Junior World champion.

The fourth seed is 2019 World bronze medalist Mohammadali Abdolhamid Geraei of Iran. Geraei is also a 2017 World bronze medalist and a 2019 Asian Games champion. Most recently, Geraei won the 2021 International Ukrainian Tournament, which is his only competition since the 2019 World Championships.

Jalgasbay Berdimuratov, a 2019 World bronze medalist from Uzbekistan, enters the tournament unseeded. Similarly to Bjurbeg Kessidis, since the 2019 World Championships, Berdimuratov has primarily competed at 82 kg, winning both the 2021 Asian Championships and the Poland Open. The 2021 Grand Prix of Zagreb was the only tournament he wrestled at 77 kg for, logging a seventh place finish.

Askhat Dilmukhamedov was the other fifth-place finisher at the 2019 World Championships. However, Kazakhstan selected Demeu Zhadrayev as their Olympic representative over Dilmukhamedov. Zhadrayev competed at 72 kg at the 2019 World Championships, placing tenth. He is a 2017 World silver medalist. Since moving to 77 kg, he claimed a 2020 Henri Deglane Grand Prix title and a 2021 Asian Championships bronze medal.

Aik Mnatsakanian won the World Olympic Qualifier in May to earn Bulgaria’s berth at the weight class after a fifth-place performance at the initial European Olympic Qualifier. Mnatsakanian claimed bronze at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships wrestling at 72 kg.

Rafig Huseynov of Azerbaijan was the other wrestler to secure a bid at the World Olympic Qualifier. Huseyov scored a silver medal wrestling at 82 kg during the 2019 World Championships. He is also a 2015 World Military Games champion, a 2019 World Military Games runner-up, a 2015 European Games runner-up and a two-time European Championships gold medalist (2011, 2015)

Akzhol Makhudov, an up-and-comer from Kyrgyzstan, won the Asian Olympic Qualifier. While he has yet to compete in a Senior World Championship, Makhudov is a 2018 Asian Games runner-up and a three-time age-group World medalist, earning a Cadet World title in 2016, a Junior World silver in 2017 and a Junior World bronze in 2018. Japan’s Shohei Yabiku was the other qualifier from the tournament. He is a three-time Japanese Senior World Team member and a 2013 Junior World bronze medalist.

Cuba’s Yosvanys Pena Flores earned first at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier. Another wrestler making his Senior World or Olympic debut, Pena Flores is a two-time Pan Am Championships gold medalist (2019, 2020) and a 2019 Pan Am Games bronze medalist. In 2010, he earned silver at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

2016 Olympic fifth-place finisher Bozo Starcevic of Croatia earned the second qualifying bid at the European Championships. Starcevic is a five-time Senior World Championships participant, with his best finishing coming in 2014 when he placed fifth.

Morocco’s Zied Ait Ouagram will make his third-straight Olympic Games appearance in Tokyo. Ait Ouagram earned his berth through the African Qualifier. He is a six-time Senior World Championships competitor. In 2017 he finished seventh, his best placement to date.

The other competitors in the bracket include, Mexico’s Alfonzo Leyva Yepez, who will take the place of Jose Vargas Rueda, the wrestler that qualified the weight class for Mexico, and Tunisia’s Lamjed Maafi, a 2020 African Championships runner-up.

77 kg/169.75 pounds
NO. 1 SEED – 2019 World champion - Hungary (Tamas Lorincz)
NO. 2 SEED – 2019 World silver medalist - Sweden (Alex Bjurberg Kessidis)
NO. 3 SEED – 2019 World fifth place - Armenia (Karapet Chalyan)
No. 4 SEED – 2019 World bronze medalist - Iran (Mohammadali Abdolhamid Geraei)
2019 World bronze medalist - Uzbekistan (Jalgasbay Berdimuratov)
2019 World fifth place - Kazakhstan (Demeu Zhadrayev)**
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – Cuba (Yosvanys Pena Flores)
2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Mexico (Alfonzo Leyva Yepez)**
2021 European Olympic Qualifier champion – Russia (Aleksandr Chekhirkin)
2021 European Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Croatia (Bozo Starcevic)
2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier champion – Tunisia (Lamjed Maafi)
2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier runner-up –Morocco (Zied Ait Ouagram)
2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier champion – Kyrgyzstan (Akzhol Makhudov)
2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Japan (Shohei Yabiku)
2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier champion – Bulgaria (Aik Mnatsakanian)
2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier runner-up – Azerbaijan (Rafig Huseynov)

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2019 World Championships
77 kg/169.75 pounds – Gold – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); Silver – Alex Bjurberg Kessidis (Sweden); Bronze – Mohammadali Geraei (Iran); Bronze – Jalgasby Berdimuratov (Uzbekistan); 5th – Karapet Chalyan (Armenia); 5th – Askhat Dilmukhamedov (Kazakhstan); 7th – Paulius Galkinas (Lithuania); 8th – Roman Vlasov (Russia); 9th – Pavel Liakh (Belarus); 10th – Viktor Nemes (Serbia)

2018 World Championships
77 kg/ 169.75 pounds – Gold – Aleksandr Chekhirkin (Russia); Silver – Tomas Lorincz (Hungary); Bronze – (Hyeon-woo Kim); Bronze – Viktor Nemes (Serbia); 5th – Bilan Nalgiev (Uzbekistan); 5th – Alex Bjurberg Kessidis (Sweden); 7th – Kamal Bey (United States); 8th – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 9th – Kairatbek Tugolbaev (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Igor Besleaga (Moldova)

2017 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs.- Gold- Viktor Nemes (Serbia); Silver - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary) ; Bronze - Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Bronze - Fatih Cengiz (Turkey); 5th - Kazbek Kilou (Belarus); 6th – Mindia Tsulukidze (Georgia); 7th - Hyeonwoo Kim (Korea); 8th - Karapet Chalyan (Armenia); 9th - Gang Zhang (China); 10th – Raibek Bisultanov (Denmark)

2016 Olympic Games
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver – Mark Overgaard Madsen (Denmark); Bronze –Hyeon-woo Kim (Korea); Bronze – Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Fifth – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); Fifth – Peter Basci (Hungary); Seventh – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); Eighth – Viktor Nemes (Serbia); Ninth – Bin Yang (China); Tenth – Doszhan Kartikov

2015 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver – Mark Madsen (Denmark); Bronze – Andy Bisek (United States); Bronze – Doszhan Kartikov (Kazakhstan); 5th – Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); 5th – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 7th – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); 8th – Peter Basci (Hungary); 9th – Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); 10th – Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea)

2014 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Silver – Neven Zugaj (Croatia); Bronze – Andy Bisek (USA); Bronze – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 5th – Hiroyuki Shimizu (Japan); 5th – Zurabi Datunashvili (Georgia); 7th – Gurpreet Singh (India); 8th – Juan Escobar (Mexico); 9th – Dmytro Pyshkov (Ukraine); 10th – Yavor Yankiev (Bulgaria)

2013 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold –Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); Silver - Roman Vlasov (Russia); Bronze –Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Bronze - Emrah Kus (Turkey); 5th - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - Veili-Karri Suominen (Finland); 7th - Mykola Daragan (Ukraine); 8th - Bin Yang (China); 9th – Esengeldi Kozhobek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Rafik Huseynov (Azerbaijan)

2012 Olympic Games
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold - Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver - Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Bronze - Aleksandr Kazekevic (Lithuania); Bronze - Emin Ahmadov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - Aliaksandr Kikiniou (Belarus); 7th - Zurabi Datunishvili (Georgia); 8th - Christophe Guenot (France); 9th - Robert Rosengren (Sweden); 10th - Neven Zugaj (Croatia)

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