Gray, Hafizov receive draws for day one of Olympic Games wrestling, which begins August 1

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Action images of Adeline Gray (left) and Ildar Hafizov (right) are by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

The draw for the first two U.S. Olympic wrestlers, women’s freestyle star Adeline Gray (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/New York AC) at 76 kg and Greco-Roman wrestler Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) at 60 kg have been conducted on Saturday afternoon.

Both Gray and Hafizov will compete on Sunday, August 1, the first day of the wrestling competition at Makuhari Messe Hall A in the Chiba prefecture of Tokyo. Both athletes will be competing in their second Olympic Games, with Gray wrestling at the 2016 Olympic Games for Team USA, and Hafizov (a naturalized U.S. citizen) competing for Uzbekistan at the 2008 Olympic Games.

Gray, a five-time World Champion who won the most recent World title at this weight class in 2019, will open against Zaineb Sghaier of Tunisia.

UWW bio on Sghaier

Gray has received the No. 1 seed. Athletes in her half bracket include No. 4 seed and Olympic medalist Elmira Szzdykova of Kazakhstan. If Gray wins her first match, she faces the winner of 2017 World champion Yasemin Adar of Turkey and past World silver medalist Aline da Silva of Brazil. Also in her half-bracket are 2012 Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia, Samar Hamza of Egypt and Aiperi Medet Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan.

The other seeds (in the other half-bracket) include No. 2 seed and past World champion Aline Rotter Focken of Germany and No. 3 seed and multiple World medalist Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki of Japan. 2016 Olympic champion Erica Wiebe of Canada is also in this half-bracket, away from Gray.

Gray won World titles in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019, and also boasts two World bronze medals. She was seventh at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gray also boasts University and Junior World titles. She is a native of Denver, Colo., and lives in Colorado Springs, Colo.

USA Wrestling preview for 76 kg women’s freestyle

Hafizov, who has competed on two previous Senior World teams for the USA, will face Luis Orta Sanchez of Cuba, the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion, who is also a 2019 Pan American Championships gold medalist.

UWW bio on Orta Sanchez

Hafizov is unseeded. In his half-bracket are the No. 2 seed and past World champion Sergey Emelin of Russia and the No. 3 seed Karem Kamal of Turkey. If Hafizov wins his first match, he will face either Emelin or Haithem Mahmoud of Egypt. Also in his half-bracket are Victor Ciobanu of Moldova, Zholaman Sharshenenbekov of Krygystan and Mirambek Ainagulov of Kazakhstan.

On the other half-bracket are No. 1 seed Kenichiro Fumita of Japan, and No. 4 seed Ali Reza Ayat Ollah Nejati of Iran.

Ildar competed for Team USA at the 2017 and 2019 Senior World Championships, and he was also second at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Before emigrating to the United States, Hafizov wrestled on three Senior World Teams for Uzbekistan, along with his 11th place finish at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. A member of the Army World Class Athlete Program stationed at Fort Carson, Colo., Hafizov is a resident of Colorado Springs, Colo.

USA Wrestling preview for 60 kg in Greco-Roman

There is a third weight class which begins on August 1, 130 kg in Greco-Roman, but the U.S. did not qualify an entry at this weight class. Competition in these weight classes will advance through the semifinal round, which means only finalists and those eligible for repechage will compete on Monday.

U.S. women’s freestyle first round draw

76 kg – Adeline Gray (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOPTC/New York AC)

Vs. Zaineb Sghaier (Tunisia)

U.S. Greco-Roman first round draw

60 kg – Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP)

Vs. Luis Orta Sanchez (Cuba)

The day before each athlete competes, the draw will be held in Tokyo at approximately 1:40 p.m. local time. United World Wrestling plans to provide a live draw for fans to follow on its Olympic Games website.

Competition schedule Sunday, Aug. 1 (local time in Tokyo)

11 a.m. – Qualification rounds (GR 60, 130; WFS 76 kg)

6:15 p.m. – Semifinals (GR 60, 130; WFS 76 kg)

Competition schedule – U.S. Eastern time zone

July 31, 10 p.m. ET – Qualification rounds (GR 60, 130; WFS 76 kg)

August 1, 5:15 a.m. ET – Semifinals (GR 60, 130; WFS 76 kg)