#WrestleBaku, #WrestleParis

Aliyev leads as Azerbaijan wins six Paris 2024 quota at European qualifier

By Vinay Siwach

BAKU, Azerbaijan (April 7) -- Haji ALIYEV (AZE) on the mat in front of a packed stadium in Baku for an Olympic spot. The fans cheered every time he scored. It only got louder as he inched towards victory. As the final whistle blew, Aliyev stretched his arms and fell on the mat even as the National Gymnastics Arena in Baku was defeaning.

Two-time Olympic medalist Aliyev, 32, qualified Azerbaijan for the Paris Olympics at 65kg with an entertaining 6-4 victory over European champion Islan DUDAEV (ALB). Aliyev was back.

Since winning the silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics, Aliyev has not dominated the 65kg weight class. He finished fifth at the 2022 World Championships and eighth at the 2023 edition.

Azerbaijan was losing confidence in its star as the Paris Olympics came closer with it still to earning a qualification. Aliyev was under pressure and his conditioning was being questioned. And a few youngsters were knocking on the door.

Yet, Aliyev entered the European OG Qualifier in Baku as the favorite. In front of the home crowd and as the captain of the Azerbaijan Freestyle team, Aliyev had to deliver.

After seeing off Khamzat ARSAMERZOUEV (FRA) and Niurgun SKRIABIN (AIN), Aliyev faced Dudaev for Paris qualification. Dudaev won the European Championships in Bucharest in February after defeating Gadzhimurad RASHIDOV (AIN).

He threatened to beat Aliyev, leading 3-0 at the break. But Aliyev managed to get on a single leg and score a takedown to close the gap to 3-2. He again hit the same shot and got a takedown before using the lace to make it 6-3. Dudaev tried hard but Aliyev was too good with his defense and only gave up a stepout for one up.

Azerbaijan will most likely give Aliyev the spot in Paris 2024, his third in his career. Aliyev will be looking to win his third Olympic medal after a bronze medal in Rio 2016 and a silver in Tokyo 2020.

The second Paris 2024 quota at 65kg was won by Goderdzi DZEBISASHVILI (GEO) who defeated Maxim SACULTAN (MDA), 2-1, in the other semifinal. The two wrestlers exchanged passivity but Sacultan was put on the activity clock in the second period, giving Dzebisashvili the criteria win. 

Aliyev's win was one of the five that Azerbaijan had to become the first country to win all six Freestyle Olympic quotas. Apart from Aliyev, Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE), Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE), Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE), Giorgi MESHVILDISHVILI (AZE) earned quotas.

Rzazade seemed in a hurry to be off the mat as he opened the scoring against former European champion Vladimir EGOROV (MKD). He kicked off the bout with a stunning ankle pick for a takedown in the first five seconds of the bout and tried to soak in the Baku pressure by pacing around the mat as Egorov took time to return to the center.

In the second period, Rzazade scored a stepout when Egorov was on the activity clock, giving Rzazade a 4-0 lead. Egorov scored a takedown and was given one more point for Rzazade's fleeing at the end but the Azerbaijan wrestler won 4-3 to win the quota at 57kg.

Former world bronze medalist Aryan TSIUTRYN (AIN) defeated Tokyo Olympian Georgi VANGELOV (BUL), 7-3, in a one-sided semifinal to earn the second quota at 57kg.

At 86kg, Nurmagomedov showed his skills to beat Vasyl MYKHAILOV (UKR), 4-1, to earn a qualification. He also defeated Ramazan RAMAZANOV (BUL) in the quarterfinals.

Wrestling internationally for the first time since 2021, Olympic and world bronze medalist Artur NAIFONOV (AIN) confirmed his Paris 2024 spot after a gritty 4-0 win over Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO). In the quarterfinal, Naifonov held off European champion Dauren KURUGLIEV (GRE) 2-1.

Giorgi MESHVILDISHVILI (AZE) confirmed the qualification at 125kg after he defeated Alen KHUBULOV (BUL), 7-0. The other qualification went to Dzianis KHRAMIANKOU (AIN) who defeated Kamil KOSCIOLEK (POL), 9-2.

A last-minute replacement for Abdulrashid SADULAEV (IND), Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (AIN) still got the job done of qualifying after he defeated Illia ARCHAIA (UKR), 11-0 to earn the Paris 2024 quota.

The second spot at 97kg was won by Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (AIN) after his opponent Radoslaw BARAN (POL) pulled out due to an injury he suffered in the quarterfinal.

At 74kg, Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) did let the ghost of past affect him as he held on to a 8-8 win over Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) in a thrilling bout.

Chamizo trailed 8-6 but got awarded two caution points and almost scored a takedown which was reverted on challenge and Bayramov got a criteria win and an Olympic quota.

Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Magomedkhabib KADIMAGOMEDOV (AIN) held on to a 3-2 win over European champion Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) to win the quota. All five points were technical points.




57kg Paris Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE) df. Vladimir EGOROV (MKD), 4-3
SF 2: Aryan TSIUTRYN (AIN) df. Georgi VANGELOV (BUL), 7-3

65kg Paris Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Goderdzi DZEBISASHVILI (GEO) df. Maxim SACULTAN (MDA), 2-1
SF 2: Haji ALIYEV (AZE) df. Islam DUDAEV (ALB), 6-4

74kg Paris Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE) df. Frank CHAMIZO (ITA), 8-8
SF 2: Magomedkhabib KADIMAGOMEDOV (AIN) df. Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK), 3-2

86kg Paris Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Artur NAIFONOV (AIN) df. Vladimeri GAMKRELIDZE (GEO), 4-0
SF 2: Osman NURMAGOMEDOV (AZE) df. Vasyl MYKHAILOV (UKR), 4-1 

97kg Paris Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (AIN) df. Illia ARCHAIA (UKR), 11-0
SF 2: Aliaksandr HUSHTYN (AIN) df. Radoslaw BARAN (POL), via inj. def.

125kg Paris Qualification Bouts
SF 1: Dzianis KHRAMIANKOU (AIN) df. Kamil KOSCIOLEK (POL), 9-2


Vyshnyvetskyi, Hasanli avenge losses to rivals, reach U23 European finals

By United World Wrestling Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan (May 20) -- The last time Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) faced Muhammet BAKIR (TUR), it ended in a bruising defeat that also deprived him of a world title. On Monday, he avenged that loss. And in doing so, the Greco-Roman wrestler has given himself a chance to defend his U23 European Championship crown in the 130kg category.

The first day of the continental age-group championship in Baku saw the third installment in a little more than a year of the riveting rivalry between two of the finest U23 wrestlers in this weight category.

When they met in the semifinals of the U23 European Championship in March 2023, Vyshnyvetskyi prevailed over his Turkish opponent in what turned out to be a lopsided bout. When the duo faced off later that year at the U23 World Championship, Bakir returned the favor in style, defeating his nemesis in the gold medal bout.

So, when the draws were out for the Greco-Roman bouts, it was hardly a surprise that the re-match between Vyshnyvetskyi and Bakir was one of the most anticipated matches of the day. And it lived up to the hype, although not in a way Bakir would have liked.

Vyshnyvetskyi beat his Turkish opponent 9-1 to advance to the final. Bakir had his chance when he got the par terre advantage in the first period but Vyshnyvetskyi stood up. Bakir was trying to lock his arms around the Ukrainian when Vyshnyvetskyi hit a four-pointer grabbing one of Bakir's arms. Turkiye challenged but to no avail, adding one more point to Vyshnyvetskyi's score for the lost challenge.

Vyshnyvetskyi used another four-pointer when the two were in a bear-hug position to finish the bout 9-1 in two minutes and 13 seconds.

It was a day when the Ukrainian wrestler hardly had to break a sweat. He began with a 2-1 win over Marcel ALBINI (CZE) in the qualification round, then pinned Dominik KRAWCZYK (POL) after leading 12-1 in the quarterfinals before he got the job done against Bakir in the last-four round.

Vyshnyvetskyi will take on Koppany LASZLO (HUN) in the final. The 18-year-old from Hungary got the better of Dmitrii BABORYKO (AIN) to reach Tuesday's gold medal match.

Khasay HASANLI (AZE)Khasay HASANLI (AZE) tries to score on Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) in the 77kg semifinal at the U23 European Championships. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

This wasn't the only bout on Monday that had a gripping backstory and ended with one of the wrestlers getting his revenge.

In the 77kg weight class, Khasay HASANLI (AZE) stunned the reigning world and European U23 champion Alexandrin GUTU (MDA) 7-0 to set up a final encounter with Yuksel SARICICEK (TUR).

Like Vyshnyvetskyi and Bakir, this was part three of the rivalry between Hasanli and Gutu. In fact, it was a rivalry only on paper as the Moldovan wrestler had defeated his Azerbaijani opponent twice. On both those occasions, it was in the finals: in the U23 European Championships last year, Gutu won 6-3 and at the U23 Worlds later, he won the gold with a 3-1 win.

Competing in front of his home crowd, the 22-year-old didn't concede a single point as he turned the tables in style. In the semifinal against Gutu, Hasanli got the par terre position and scored two points for a correct throw. Gutu was docked two caution points for committing a defensive foul and was put in par terre. Hasanli did not make any big moves but Gutu was cautioned again for a leg foul, ending the bout due to his two cautions.

Hasanli wasn't the only one with a chance to win a gold medal in front of his own supporters. In the 63kg category, Ziya BABASHOV (AZE) beat Abere FETENE (ISR) 5-3 to give himself a fighting chance of winning a title, when he faces off against the U23 World and European Championships bronze medallist Vitalie ERIOMENCO (MDA).

Babashov, a 2022 senior European Championship silver medallist, began with a convincing 4-1 win over Mairbek SALIMOV (POL) and followed it up with another comfortable victory, this time over Talibsho KHAIBARAU (AIN).

The march to the final marks an improvement for Babashov, who made exits in the round of 16 at the U23 European and World Championships in 2023. However, in Eriomenco, he faces a formidable opponent, who gave up just two points en route to the final.

Meanwhile, in the 55 kg category, Adam ULBASHEV (AIN) upset defending champion Denis MIHAI (ROU) 3-2 in a close quarterfinal bout. However, he later lost 6-5 to Emre MUTLU (TUR) in the semifinals in an equally tough encounter.

Mutlu, the European Championship gold medallist in 2022, will wrestle Giorgi TOKHADZE (GEO) for the gold medal on Tuesday. Tokhadze beat Ivan STEFANSKYI (UKR) 13-4 in his first bout and followed it up with a commanding 8-0 win over Rashad MAMMADOV (AIN).

In the 87kg class, Aues GONIBOV (AIN) will take on Achiko BOLKVADZE (GEO) in the final. Gonibov did not concede a single point on his way to the gold medal bout. He started with a 9-0 win over Nikolaos IOSIFIDIS (GRE) and then defeated former U23 world champion Exauce MUKUBU (NOR) 3-0 in the quarterfinals. In the semis, he got the better of Samet YALDIRAN (TUR) 2-0.

Bolkvadze's road to the final was a little more complicated, as he had to overcome stiff competition posed by Ilya MIALESHCHYK (AIN) before beating him 8-4 and sealing his spot in the title round.





SF 1: Giorgi TOKHADZE (GEO) df. Rashad MAMMADOV (AZE), 8-0
SF 2: Emre MUTLU (TUR) df. Adam ULBASHEV (AIN), 6-5


SF 1: Vitalie ERIOMENCO (MDA) df. Aleksandr ANDREEV (AIN), via fall (2-2
SF 2: Ziya BABASHOV (AZE) df. Abere FETENE (ISR), 5-3


SF 1: Khasay HASANLI (AZE) df. Alexandrin GUTU (MDA), via cautions (7-0)
SF 2: Yuksel SARICICEK (TUR) df. Attila TOESMAGI (HUN), 5-2


SF 1: Aues GONIBOV (AIN) df. Samet YALDIRAN (TUR), 2-0
SF 2: Achiko BOLKVADZE (GEO) df. Ilya MIALESHCHYK (AIN), 8-4


SF 1: Mykhailo VYSHNYVETSKYI (UKR) df. Muhammet BAKIR (TUR), 9-1
SF 2: Koppany LASZLO (HUN) df. Dmitrii BABORYKO (AIN), 1-1