Ten Returning Pellicone Champs Competing at #WrestleRome21

By Eric Olanowski

The road to #Tokyo202One Olympic Games kicks off on the coast of Italy, in the port city of Ostia, March 4-7. Ten of last year’s 30 Matteo Pellicone champions return to Italy with their sights set on gold for a second consecutive year.

Greco-Roman will play host to five wrestlers, spread across four weights, who are looking to defend their Ranking Series golds from ’20. They are: Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Zoltan LEVAI (HUN), Singh GURPREET (IND), Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) and Abdellatif MOHAMED (EGY). 

Levai (77kg), Lorincz (87kg) and Mohamed (130kg) will compete at their title-winning weights from last year, while El Sayed and Gurpreet are moving down to Olympic weight classes. The Egyptian is dropping from 72kg to 67kg, while the Indian wrestlers is joining Levai down at 77kg after winning 82kg gold a year ago.

In freestyle, the dynamic duo of Kumar RAVI (IND) and Bajrang PUNIA (IND) will be looking to reach the top of the Pala Pellicone podium in back-to-back years. They’ll wrestle at 61kg and 65kg, respectively. 

In women’s wrestling, Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR), Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) and Erica WIEBE (CAN) are the trio ’20 champs who are on a quest to bag gold for a second straight year. They’ll compete at 57kg, 62kg and 76kg, respectively. 

Here are the ’20 Matteo Pellicone gold-medal matches from the ten returning champions that'll be in action March 4-8:

61kg: Kumar RAVI( IND)
65kg: Bajrang PUNIA (IND)  

67kg: Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY)
77kg: Zoltan LEVAI (HUN)
77kg:  Singh GURPREET (IND)
87kg: Viktor LORINCZ (HUN)
130kg: Abdellatif MOHAMED (EGY) 

Women's Wrestling
57kg: Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR)
62kg: Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ)
76kg: Erica Elizabeth WIEBE (CAN)


Colossal Rematch of Olympic Champs Brewing at 76kg

By Eric Olanowski

Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) will make her ascent back up to 76kg at the Matteo Pellicone (March 4-7), which could set up a colossal Ranking Series rematch with fellow Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN).

Vorobeva, the reigning world and European champion at the non-Olympic weight of 72kg, is moving up to 76kg with hopes of becoming the first non-Japanese woman ever to win a pair of Olympic gold medals. She won the London Olympic Games and settled for a Rio Olympic silver medal.

But before she tries to win a second Olympic gold, she has her eyes set on avenging her loss to Wiebe from the ’19 City of Sassari finals, where her Canadian foe grabbed a massive fall in just over two minutes.

When the pair of Olympic champs met at the ’19 City of Sassari finals, the match was pegged as arguably the most anticipated women’s wrestling match in Ranking Series herstory -- but the match was short-lived.

Wiebe ducked a front headlock attempt from Vorobieva and used an unorthodox inside leg hook to throw the Russian to her back for the fall. “The secret to my success is I’m pretty dangerous from every position,” Wiebe said when asked out the unconventional maneuver she used to pick up the fall. The Budapest world bronze medalist went on to say, “I wanted to go out there and compete. I wanted to make (Vorobeva) uncomfortable. I knew if I got her on her back, I wanted to stick her.”

The women's wrestling draws comes out Friday (March 5) morning at 8:00 (local time). For now, we'll have to patiently wait to see if the colossal matchup is going to happen!

The Matteo Pellicone kicks off on Thursday (March 4), with women’s wrestling action getting underway on Friday. You can follow all the action live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.

18:00: Technical conference – all teams

8:00: Medical Examination, Weigh-in & Draw GR 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg
10:30 :Qualification rounds & repechage GR – 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg
17:00: Opening Ceremony
18:00: Finals GR – 55-60-63-67-87-97-130kg

8:00: Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg
10:30 : Qualification rounds & repechage GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg
18:00: Finals GR – 72-77-82kg & WW – 57-62-68-76kg

8:00: Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg
10:30: Qualification rounds & repechage WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg
18:00: Finals WW – 50-53-55-59-65-72kg & FS – 97-125kg

8:00: Medical Examination, Weigh-in and Draw FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg
10:30: Qualification rounds & repechage FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg
18:00: Finals FS – 57-61-65-70-74-79-86-92kg