Russian Women Win Team Title on Back of Four Individual Gold Medalists

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 13) --- Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) stuck Maria SELMAIER (GER) in the short-lived 72kg finals and closed out the Russian Federation’s run to the team title with a fourth women’s wrestling gold medal. 

Vorobeva, the reigning world champion at 72kg, joined fellow Russians Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS), Khanum VELIEVA (RUS) and Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) atop the continental podium after her win via fall on Friday night.  

Russia (190 points) won the women’s wrestling team title 35 points ahead of the defending champions, Ukraine (155 points). Belarus rounded out the top-three in the women's race with 97 points.

Vorobeva, Russia's women's captain, said being cool and confident helped them win the team title. "The team was so successful because our girls are really cool. They started to believe in themselves. In general, our team is very cool, friendly, strong and ready to win."

Vorobeva sealed up Russia’s fourth gold of the tournament with a fall in 85 seconds of the opening period against Selmaier and won her third European title. After securing the fall, the two-time world champion said, "Yesterday, I couldn’t pin my rival, so today I was a bit unsure that I could keep her pinned. The position was a bit uncomfortable, but when I caught her head, I was sure it was gonna work." 

She’ll now move up to the Olympic weight of 76kg for a run at a potential third Olympic medal. She won gold in London and silver in Rio.

Vorobeva’s move leaves the Russian coaching staff with a tough decision to make before the European Qualifier. Do they stick with Bukina who just won the 76kg title, or do they go with Vorobeva, who’ll be moving up from the non-Olympic weight of 72kg? 

On Thursday, Bukina was asked about where her European title win at 76kg puts her in the race to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. She said, “It depends on who will be in better shape. Right now, she is wrestling in the other weight category, but we will decide later when it’s closer to the Olympics. It’s too early to talk about it.”

When Vorobeva was asked about the log jam between herself and Bukina at 76kg, she said, "I gave Bukina this place and it's good for her that she used her chance. But if there is a need for me to wrestle at 76kg, we'll both go on the mat, wrestle and see who is the best."

Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) won her second European title with a win over Jessica BLASZKA (NED)  (Photo: Gabor Martin)

World Champions Kazldzinskaya and Tkach Ostaphuk Win European Golds on Friday Night
World champions Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) and Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR) added European titles to their resumes with wins on Friday night in Rome. 

Kaladzinskaya, a two-time world champion, denied Jessica BLASZKA (NED) the opportunity to become the Netherlands’ first-ever women’s wrestling European champion and now owns as many European titles as world golds. "I think that when something happens once, it might not happen again. If something happens twice, it means that it would happen for the third time as well," Kaladzinskaya said about evening her world and continental gold medal count.

Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR) edged fellow world champion Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) in the 62kg finals and won her fourth European gold medal. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Tkach Ostaphuk won the low-scoring battle against fellow world champion Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) and claimed her fourth European title. "It was the final match for the gold medal and any mistake could have been fatal. I had to wrestle well to achieve success," said Tkach Ostaphuk. 

In the 62kg finals, she trailed 1-0, but after a pair of second-period inactivity points, Tkach Ostaphuk handed Ukraine their lone women’s wrestling title of the tournament.

"I knew it would be difficult. It’s not the first year we've been wrestling together. We know each other very well and it's difficult to wrestle when you have known your rival for a long time," said Tkach Ostaphuk.  "I think the luckiest one has won tonight. Well, actually, the one who was stronger won tonight."

After stepping off the podium, Tkach Ostaphuk was asked what it feels like to hold her fourth European gold medal. She said, "I am so happy because it’s my 30’th birthday this year, and it feels like I have already been an athlete for a century. It’s a pleasure to win and to prove that I am the best in this weight category."

Tkach Ostaphuk will travel back to Ukraine to train before heading to Budapest, Hungary, to try to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. In order to earn a berth to the Olympic Games, Tkach Ostaphuk said she needs to enjoy the moment. "I just need to step on the mat, wrestle and enjoy it. I hope I will be able to qualify for the Olympics, those will be my 4th Olympic Games, I would finally like to win a medal so that my sporting career will have a nice ending." 

Grace BULLEN (NOR) is the first women's wrestler from Norway to win two European titles. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Bullen First Norwegian Woman to win Two European Titles 
Grace BULLEN (NOR) became the first Norwegian woman to win two European titles after bulldozing Alina AKOBIIA (UKR) in the 57kg finals. “It’s awesome. I like that I can make history and make the path for younger generation wrestlers in Norway,” Bullen said about her history-making performance.  

Bullen stopped five Ukrainian shots in the opening period and capitalized on the fifth defensive stop with a counter-offensive takedown. She transitioned into a gut wrench, and after trailing 1-0 for nearly the entire first period, she ended up leading by three points.

The second period was a somewhat dull one. Bullen stopped Akobiia’s high crotch attempt and tossed her to her back with a whip over. She held her Ukrainian opponent on her back for the final two minutes of the period and claimed the gold medal with the 6-1 victory.

Bullen knew it was risky to try to adjust her grip, so she stayed put and watched the clock expire. “I was thinking about controlling (the fall). My grip could easily fall out and we’d probably have to go (on our feet) again.” And she didn't want that, She’d rather play it safe. “Just knowing you can count down to a win is a good thing, and it’s safe that way. I’d rather be safe than sorry.” 

Bullen plans to wrestle at the European qualifier in March then hopefully to the Tokyo Olympic Games later this year. And to do that, Bullen said it needs to be herself. “First of all, I have to get to the Olympics. To do that, I have to be myself. I want to impress people with my wrestling and make it interesting for people to watch. If I do that, I’ll win matches, and I’ll get there.”

Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) stopped Elis MANOLOVA (AZE) from repeating as European champion. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Hristova Stops Manolova from Repeating as European Champion
Defending European champions had a difficult night on Thursday, going 0-3 in gold-medal matches. On Friday, their luck was eerily similar, as Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) stopped Elis MANOLOVA (AZE) from defending her European crown from 2019. 

Hristova and Manolva combined to score three points in the first five and a half minutes of the bout, but a late scramble that ended in an awkward flurry lit the score up with six additional points. Hristova went from leading 2-1 to ending the match with Manolva on her back while controlling the 6-3 advantage. 

The European Championships resume tomorrow at 11:30 (local time) and can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org. 

GOLD - Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR) df. Jessica BLASZKA (NED), 3-1 
BRONZE - Annika WENDLE (GER) df. Suzanna Georgiana SEICARIU (ROU), via fall 
BRONZE - Stalvira ORSHUSH (RUS) df. Katarzyna KRAWCZYK (POL), 6-0 

GOLD - Grace Jacob BULLEN (NOR) vs. Alina AKOBIIA (UKR), 6-1
BRONZE - Sara Johanna LINDBORG (SWE) df. Marina SIMONYAN (RUS), 7 - 4

BRONZE - Taybe Mustafa YUSEIN (BUL) df. Mariana CHERDIVARA ESANU (MDA), 12 - 0
BRONZE - Tetiana OMELCHENKO (AZE) df. Veranika IVANOVA (BLR), 4-0

GOLD - Mimi Nikolova HRISTOVA (BUL) df. Elis MANOLOVA (AZE), 6-3 
BRONZE - Iryna KOLIADENKO (UKR) df. Kriszta Tunde INCZE (ROU), 8-0 
BRONZE - Mariia KUZNETSOVA (RUS) df. Petra Maarit OLLI (FIN), 8-4

GOLD - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Maria SELMAIER (GER), via fall 
BRONZE - Catalina AXENTE (ROU) df. Enrica RINALDI (ITA), 5-1 


Chamizo Wins Clash Against Gazimagomedov, Claims Fourth European Title

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (February 16) --- Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) dramatically claimed his fourth European title in front of a friendly Italian crowd on Sunday. He scored the match-deciding takedown with under 25 seconds left to defeat fellow two-time world champion Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3. 

After winning his fourth European gold medal, Chamizo said this win was the sweetest because it was in front of his hometown Italian fans. “This (European title) is the best. It’s in my home; It’s the best,” he said. “European people say Italy doesn’t know about wrestling. Today, everyone was here to support me, and that’s amazing. I want to say thank you to the Italian people for coming.”

Chamizo entered the European Championships ranked No. 2 in the world, trailing reigning two-time world champion Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) by 20 points. He grabbed the 22-point gold medal and is the new top-ranked wrestler in the world at 74kg. 

“I’m wrestling in Poland. It’s a Ranking Series tournament and I want to come into (the Olympic Games) ranked No. 1,” he said. 

In the finals, Chamizo scored an inactivity point in the first period, but conceded a left-sided single leg and fell behind 2-1. 

In the second period, the Italian superstar fought off a near-takedown on the edge, and luckily for him, the refs awarded Gazimagomedov the one-point stepout point and not the two-point takedown, putting the Russian in front, 3-1. Chamizo, who trailed by two points, snapped Gazimagomedov to the mat and spun behind, but the Russian kicked out and surrendered the stepout point.

Chamizo trailed 3-2 when he jammed Gazimagomedov’s double-leg attempt with his heavy hips and spun behind for the match deciding takedown. “I knew he was coming. He needed to take my legs to win, he said. “If you want, you can come. I have a surprise for you.”

But there was still time on the clock and Chamizo nearly threw the match away with 10 seconds left. 

He gave up a single leg and was one second away from giving up the stepout. Chamizo held Gazimagomedov off long enough to defend his European crown from last year and win his fourth continental title. “The outside people say the match is too close. But, when you know you’ve trained good, you can do whatever you want.” 

After the award ceremony, Chamizo stated he believes that Gazimagomedov is a lot better than the man that beat him in last year’s world finals, Zaurbek Sidakov. “(Sidakov) is a cool guy, and he’s training good, but I think (Gazimagomedov) is much better than him,” Chamizo said. “Look, (Sidakov and I) wrestled in 2018, and my training was about 50%. I didn’t perform. It was the same thing in 2019. My knee and ankle weren’t good. Right now, I’m good. But, where is (Sidakov)?”
After winning the Ivan Yariguin title, Gazimagomedov stated a similar opinion as Chamzio. He said, “In Russia, many understand that I will win against Sidakov, but perhaps we will not be allowed to meet on the mat because we don’t have a very transparent selection system.”

As it sits now, Sidakov is the top choice to represent Russia at the Olympic Games. But, Gazimagomedov’s Yariguin win and European silver-medal finish further his case that he deserves at least a wrestle-off to show just how worthy of a competitor he is. 

Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) attacks Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) in the 61kg European finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Bogomoev and Naifonov Close out Team-Title Run for Russia 
Aleksandr BOGOMOEV (RUS) and Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) reeled in gold medals and helped the Russian Federation lock up the freestyle team title. Russia finished with 186 points, which was 70 points ahead of second-place Azerbaijan and 91 points ahead of third-place Georgia. 

Bogomoev defeated the reigning world champion and the returning European champion en route to the 61kg gold medal. His win on Sunday added Russia’s dominating lightweight performance in which they won gold in the first three weight classes. 

Bogomoev joined lightweights Azamat TUSKAEV (RUS) and Kurban SHIRAEV (RUS), who won the 57kg and 65kg gold medals, respectively. 

Bogomoev scored a last-second takedown against returning European champion Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) and moved into the finals with the 5-5 criteria win. He closed his run to the non-Olympic weight gold medal with a one-point win over returning world champion Beka LOMTADZE (GEO). 

In the finals, Bogomoev commanded a convincing 3-0 lead midway through the second period. He scored an inactivity point, then capitalized on a high crotch while he was on the shot clock. He gave up a second-period takedown, which cut his lead to one point. Bogomoev fought off a flurry of Georgian attacks and won his second European title and first defeating Lomtadze in the 2015 European Games. 

Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) finishes a shot on Myles AMINE (SMR) in the 86kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Artur Naifonov was the second Russian of the day and fifth of the tournament to claim European gold. He stopped Myles AMINE (SMR) from becoming the first athlete from San Marino to ever win a European title with a 4-0 shutout win in the 86kg finals. 

In the gold-medal match, Naifonov scored three stepouts and an inactivity point and won his second European title and first since winning the 2018 crown in Dagestan, Russia. 

Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) carries the Turkish flag around the mat after defeating Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) in the 92kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Karadeniz and Petriashvili Claim Final Two European Golds 
Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) claimed the final two golds of the European Championships. 

At 92kg, Karadeniz stopped Samuel SCHERRER (SUI) from ending Switzerland’s 85-year freestyle continental gold-medal drought. 

Karadeniz snuck behind Scherrer and nearly scored the matches first takedown but ran out of real estate and collected the inactivity point. He picked up another stepout, then tacked on an inactivity point and claimed his first European title with a 3-0 shutout victory. 

Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) won his second European title with an 11-0 win over Robert BARAN (POL) in the 125kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Petriashvili stopped Robert BARAN (POL) for the second time in the European finals and won his second European title. The three-time world champion ended the match in the first period after scoring the 11-0 technical superiority victory. His 11 points came from a stepout, two takedowns and three gut wrenches.

BRONZE - Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Georgios PILIDIS (GRE), via injury default 
BRONZE - Nikolai OKHLOPKOV (ROU) df. Intigam VALIZADA (AZE), 3-1 

GOLD - Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) df. Magomedrasul GAZIMAGOMEDOV (RUS), 5-3 
BRONZE -  Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) df. Miroslav KIROV (BUL), via fall 

GOLD - Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Myles Nazem AMINE (SMR), 4-0 
BRONZE - Boris MAKOEV (SVK) df. Akhmed Adamovitch MAGAMAEV (BUL), 6-5 

GOLD - Suleyman KARADENIZ (TUR) df. Samuel SCHERRER (SUI), 3-0 
BRONZE - Aslanbek ALBOROV (AZE) df. Irakli MTSITURI (GEO), 2-0 
BRONZE - Amarhajy MAHAMEDAU (BLR) df. Marzpet GALSTYAN (ARM), 7-0 

GOLD - Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) df. Robert BARAN (POL), 11-0 
BRONZE - Levan BERIANIDZE (ARM) df. Jamaladdin MAGOMEDOV (AZE), 2-2