Asian Championships Day 1: Freestyle Finals Set

By Ken Marantz & Vinay Siwach

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (April 11) -- The Asian Championships kick off in Bishkek with five Freestyle weight classes. World champion Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) will look to defend his 97kg title while a rematch of the Asian Games final at 65kg between Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) and Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) is on the cards.


Here are the final bouts for the evening session

57kg - Kento YUMIYA (JPN) vs. UDIT (IND)

65kg - Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) vs.  Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL)

70kg - Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) vs. Yoshinosuke AOYAGI (JPN)

74kg - Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI) vs. Byambadorj ENKHBAYAR (MGL)

97kg - Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) vs. Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ)

14:41: Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) put on a display worthy of a reigning world champion when he forged an 8-2 victory in the 97kg semifinals over two-time former Asian champion Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI). In what could be arguably called the de facto gold-medal match, Tazhudinov scored a double-leg takedown in the first period, then repeated it in the second. Mohammadian used a low single to pick up a leg and gain a stepout, with a caution point tacked on. But Tazhudinov gained a 2-point exposure as he fought off a counter lift on a takedown attempt, then added a counter 2 of his own for the final points.

14:35: 92kg world champion Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ), who is wrestling at 97kg for the second time in his career, gets a low single over VICKY (IND) for the first takedown and leads 2-0. He exposes Vicky in the danger zone to make it 4-0. A double leg for four before he scores another four using the underhook throw and wins 13-0. Aitmukhan moves into the 97kg final.

14:29: Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) rolls to a 6-0 lead over ROHIT (IND) in the 65kg semifinal as he continues to use his underhook to great effect and get a takedown. A stepout is all the action in the second period as Tumur Ochir wins 7-0 to enter the final against Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI).

14:27: Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) is looking good in his quest for a three-peat at 65kg, having little trouble putting away Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB)  10-0 in their semifinal clash. The former world champion had a 4-point takedown in the first period and led 9-0 going into second, where he finished off his opponent with a stepout for a 10-0 win at 3:29.

14:19: Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI) scores a takedown with a slick ankle pick and goes right into a roll to take a 4-0 lead against Magomet EVLOEV (TJK) in their 79kg semifinal. The Iranian pads the lead to 9-0 before the break, but it would not be until there were 45 seconds left that he would finish the match with a takedown off a counter for an 11-0 win.

14:15: Byambadorj ENKHBAYAR (MGL) puts Mongolia in the 79kg final with a 10-0 technical superiority win over Asomiddin KHASANOV (UZB). Enkhbayar led 6-0 after a takedown and two turns. He adds a takedown and turn in the second period to set up the final against Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI)

14:07: Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) continued his quest for gold in his first appearance at the senior Asian Championships with a solid 8-3 victory over  Mustafo AKHMEDOV (TJK) in the 70kg semifinals. The two-time world medalist scored two takedowns in the first period, following the first one with a gut wrench. He added another takedown in the second period to all but clinch the victory.

14:00: Yoshinosuke AOYAGI (JPN) hits a low single on ABHIMANYOU (IND) and elevates for a throw but the Indian doesn't land in danger. Aoyagi goes behind for a takedown and scores turn to lead 4-0. A front headlock exposure to add two more points and a counter takedown to make it 8-0. Aoyagi with a turn to finish 10-0 and win the 70kg semifinal.

13:54: Kento YUMIYA (JPN) hangs on for a nail-biting 4-2 win over Meirambak KARTBAY (KAZ) in the 57kg semifinals. Yumiya, who won Japan's qualifier for the World U23 Championships, scores a low single-leg takedown for the lone points of the first period. He then gives up an activity point, then a stepout with 32 seconds to go, which knots the score but keeps him ahead on criteria. Kartbay gets in on a driving takedown, but Yumiya reaches back to counter and somehow flips out of the situation and lands at the legs of Kartbay, who he then drives out for a stepout. An unsuccessful challenge makes it 4-2.

13:45: In the 57kg semifinal on Mat C, UDIT (IND) with a takedown just before the break to lead 2-1 against Kum Hyok KIM (PRK). The lead extends to 3-1 as Kim is put on the activity clock in the second period. But Kim gets exposure to lead 3-3 on criteria. Udit scores a reversal and takes back the lead 4-3. Kim with some solid attacks in the final minute but Udit hangs on for a win and enters the final.

13:40: Asian Games champion Tulga TUMUR OCHIR (MGL) with two passivity points and one stepout in the match to win 3-0 against Hyon Song HAN (PRK) and enter the semifinal against ROHIT (IND) at 65kg.

13:35: Two-time former champion Mohammadhossein MOHAMMADIAN (IRI) wastes little time in ousting Batzul ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL) in the 97kg quarterfinals in a rematch of the 2022 final won by the Iranian. Mohammadian scores a takedown, then rips off four gut wrenches back-and-forth for a 10-0 win in 2:23. Next up is Tazhudinov for a place in the final.

13:30: Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) led 5-0 at the break against Seonho YOO (KOR) in the 65kg quarterfinal. He keeps Yoo at a distance in the second period to win 7-0.

13:23: Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) begins his 97kg quarterfinal against Hibiki ITO (JPN) with a takedown, then locks up the lower legs and twists him over for 2. A double-leg takedown, then an ankle pick for 2 made it 8-0. Ito, whose mother won an Olympic gold medal in volleyball for Japan, managed to take the match into the second period. But his shot at a takedown was met with a counter lift that ended the match at 3:25

13:13: Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ) moved closer to a possible showdown with fellow world champion Akhmed TAZHUDINOV (BRN) when he easily disposed of Makhsud VEYSALOV (UZB) 11-0 to advance to the 97kg semifinals. 

13:07: In a clash between current and past world bronze medalists, Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) builds up a 6-0 lead, then fends off Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ) and the partisan crowd for a 9-4 victory to advance to the 70kg semifinals.

13:07: In a clash between current and past world bronze medalists, Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI) builds up a 6-0 lead, then fends off Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ) and the partisan crowd for a 9-4 victory to advance to the 70kg semifinals. 

13:01: Yoshinosuke AOYAGI (JPN), a bronze medalist in 2023, finishes up an 11-0 victory over Begijon KULDASHEV (UZB) with a pair of front body lock throws to gain a place in the 70kg semifinals.

12:50: Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI) hangs to defeat Khidir SAIPUDNINOV (BRN) 5-4 to advance to the 79kg semifinals. Nokhodi put it into cruise control with a 5-0 lead, only to give up a pair of late takedowns and have to spend the final seconds fighting off a gut wrench attempt.

12:47: Kum Hyok PAK (PRK), an Asian cadet champion back in 2015, looks very sharp in ousting 2022 world bronze medalist Zanabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL) at 57kg, winning 5-0 to set up a semifinal with UDIT (IND)

12:45: Kento YUMIYA (JPN), making his senior UWW debut, enters the semifinal at 57kg with a 10-1 win over Changjun PARK (KOR). He will wrestle Meirambek KARTBAY (KAZ) for a place in the final.

12:40: Almaz SHAMBEKOV (KGZ), who was aiming to improve on his silver medal from a year ago at 57kg, will now have to settle for bronze at best. He led 4-0 more than halfway through the second period of his quarterfinal against UDIT (IND), only to give up a pair of takedowns to fall behind on criteria, then completely fall apart in being dealt a 6-4 loss. 

12:31: The quarterfinals have begun on Mat B, where Meirambek KARTBAY (KAZ) prevails 3-0 over Nodirbek JUMANAZAROV (UZB) at 57kg. The top-seeded Kartbay gets an activity point in the first period and a spin-behind takedown in the second to book a place in the semifinals.

12:30: Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB) had to dig deep to get his 4-2 win over Muhammad ABDULLAH (PAK). The Pakistan wrestler was leading 2-2 on criteria but Rakhmanov pushed him out of the zone to take a 3-2 lead with 2 minutes remaining. Abdullah got a front headlock exposure in the last second but a review showed that the time was over before he could finish the move.

12:05: Rizabek AITMUKHAN (KAZ), the world champion at 92kg who has moved up to 97kg and is attempting to capture a third straight Asian gold, gets a takedown in each period en route to a 6-0 victory over Andrei ARONOV (KGZ). 

11:51: Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ) got a bit creative in his victory over Shijian ZHOU (CHN) at 79kg. Getting in on a double, he had his head between the Chinese's legs. No matter, he managed to stand up, then hit a roll at the edge for 4. He went on to win 11-3. His reward is a quarterfinal meeting with world bronze medalist Amirmohammad YAZDANI (IRI). 

11:39: Ryunosuke KAMIYA (JPN), the 2022 world U20 silver medalist, ekes out a 3-0 victory at 79kg over Parvinder SINGH (IND) to book a spot in the quarterfinals

11:35: In a 79kg thriller on Mat A, Adilet MARATBAEV (KGZ) is trailing 4-3 when he pulls off a desperate front body lift to turn Magomet EVLOEV (TJK). But Evloev went with the flow and got behind at the buzzer for 1, putting him ahead 5-5 on criteria. A Kyrgyz challenge is lost, making Evloev a 6-5 winner. 

11:35: In a 79kg thriller on Mat A, Adilet MARATBAEV (KGZ) is trailing 4-3 when he pulls off a desperate front body lift to turn Magomet EVLOEV (TJK). But Evloev went with the flow and got behind at the buzzer for 1, putting him ahead 5-5 on criteria. A Kyrgyz challenge is lost, making Evloev a 6-5 winner.

11:28: The 79kg wrestlers are on the mat, and Khadir SAIPUNDINOV (BRN) overwhelms Gurbanmyrat OVEZBERDIYEV TKM) 11-0 to earn a quarterfinal clash with top-seed and world bronze medalist Mohammad NOKHODI (IRI). 

11:28: A rematch of the U20 Asian Championships from last year between UDIT (IND) and Ebrahim KHARI (IRI) with the Indian again breaking the Iranian wrestler in the second period. Khari raced to a 6-1 lead but Udit scored two takedowns and got a point for caution. Khari stormed back with another takedown to lead 8-6 but Udit with a double-leg attack and exposure to hang on for a 10-8 win at 57kg.

11: 21: Kum Hyok (PRK), the first wrestler from the DPR Korea to take the mat as the nation returns to the Asian Championships for the first time since 2019, scores two second-period takedowns in a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Aiaal BELOLYUBSKII (TJK) at 57kg.

11:19: Zanabazar ZANDANBUD (MGL), a 2022 world bronze medalist, builds up a 6-0 lead in his qualification match at 57kg against Muhammad BILAL (PAK), then gives up a nice single-leg takedown. Zandanbud scores a takedown to go into the break up 8-2. That's how it ends and Zandanbud is into the quarterfinals.

11:10: World U20 bronze medalist Nodirbek JUMANAZAROV (UZB) starts the action on Mat A with a one-sided victory over Kabe MATJANOV (TKM). He will next face top seed Meiranbek KARTBAY (KAZ).

11:00: Welcome to a very sunny day in Bishkek for the Asian Championships. Wrestlers in 57kg, 65kg, 70kg, 79kg and 97kg will be on the mat for the day.

#wrestlebishkek, #WrestleParis

Rising star Sogabe survives scare to gain Paris 2024 ticket

By Ken Marantz

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (April 21) -- For all the young wrestlers who wonder why they do so much bridging in practice, Kyotaro SOGABE (JPN) showed how it can all pay off in that future situation when the stakes are at their highest.

Sogabe, about to see his Olympic dream ended, fought tenaciously off his back before going on to defeat Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ) 11-2 and earn a ticket to the Paris Olympics at Greco 67kg on the final day of the Asian Olympic Qualifier on Sunday in Bishkek.

"If I had lost by fall there, my life would have been over," said the 22-year-old Sogabe, the 2023 Asian silver medalist who has long been touted in Japan as a star of the future. "All I've ever thought deep in my heart is that I will definitely win the gold medal in Paris.

"I asked myself, 'Are you going to give up now?' and that really got me going. I was so strongly determined not to lose by fall that I was able to escape."

Iran became the first country to complete the full set of six Greco quotas when Amin KAVIYANI (IRI) and Alireza MOHMADIPIANI (IRI) won their respective bouts at 77kg and 87kg, although neither victory came easy.

Also notably qualifying for Paris was Asia's "greybeard" Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB), the 39-year-old wonder who earned his third trip to the Olympics with a victory at 97kg.

Kazakhstan came away with three Paris berths, while Korea won two along with Iran. The DPR Korea, which was shut out in freestyle before winning three spots in women's wrestling, gained its first and only ticket in Greco.

Three countries saw bids for historic victories quashed, as Jordan and Saudi Arabia were left still waiting for their first-ever Olympians in wrestling, while Chinese Taipei remains without ever having a male wrestler make the Olympics.

Combined with the results from last year's World Championships in Belgrade, where five quotas per weight class were available, Kazakhstan now has four, Kyrgyzstan, Japan and China three each, Korea and Uzbekistan two apiece and the DPR Korea one. The last chance will be at the World Olympic Qualifier in Istanbul on May 9-12, where three final places will be up for grabs.

Kyotaro SOGABE (JPN)Kyotaro SOGABE (JPN) with the 'qualified athlete' ticket for Paris Olympics. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

For Japan's Sogabe, his victory made up for a controversial loss in the quarterfinals in Belgrade to Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI), which he lost 11-10 but had the crowd fully on his side as the Iranian waned in the final moments. It also made him determined to leave Bishkek with the ticket to Paris.

"The World Championships last year was devastating, and I have practiced every day with the determination to win the gold medal in Paris," said Sogabe, a 2022 world U23 bronze medalist. "Keeping that tough experience in my head, I worked on fixing things that weren't working well and was able to win here."

Asked about getting the chance to avenge the loss to Geraei in Paris, Sogabe expressed more concern with just winning the gold, regardless of who he faces.

"Today was really enjoyable, and I realized that in the end, having fun is the best way to do wrestling," he said. "I have to think about how I can become the strongest wrestler I can be so I can win at the Olympics. My goal is the gold medal, and I want to win it by being the strongest of all and in an enjoyable way."

Sogabe's victory came two days after Nippon Sports Science University teammate Kotaro KIYOOKA (JPN) earned his Paris ticket at freestyle 65kg. The two are both from the central island of Shikoku, and have been friendly rivals since their elementary school days.

"We are in the same class, and ever since we were young, I have not wanted to lose to him," Sogabe said. "'If I lose here, I'll be a step behind [Kotaro],' I thought. We are rivals, but we push each other and make each other better. I want us to win gold medals in Paris together."

Sogabe saw how quickly fortunes can turn in the sport in his clash with Asian Games silver medalist Sharmankhanbet, the 2021 Asian champion and a 2018 world bronze medalist.

Sogabe secured a body lock on Sharmankhanbet and slammed him down for four points -- only to have Sharmankhanbet roll Sogabe onto his back and secure a tight front headlock. A fall seemed imminent, but Sogabe's bridge kept his shoulders off the mat, and after a few tense seconds, he managed to extricate himself from the danger.

The Kazakh side made a seemingly dubious challenge for a suspected hand block of the leg, which was not only denied to give Sogabe a 5-2 lead but would work against them when an actual challenge situation arose later on and they could not contest it.

While his aggressiveness got him into trouble, Sogabe said he has no plans to change his style. "I have used attacking wrestling all this time, so I'm definitely not going to veer away from it," he said. "I will continue attacking right up to the very end."

In the second period, Sogabe drove Sharmankhanbet down for a takedown, although it looked like he may have stepped on his opponent's foot. But because the Kazakh side could not challenge, the points stood and Sogabe had a comfortable 7-2 lead. He stopped a desperation throw for 4 in the final seconds to make it officially a technical fall.

Among the crowd at Bishkek Arena were Sogabe's family and Nippon Sports Science University head coach Shingo MATSUMOTO, who flew in for the occasion. "For my whole family to come all this way, and coach Matsumoto here to support me, I'm really happy that I was able to get the job done," said Sogabe, who had to beat Asian Games champion and senior training partner Katsuaki ENDO (JPN) to earn the right to compete in Bishkek.

Sogabe's path to the final started with an 8-0 victory over 36-year-old Hansu RYU (KOR), a two-time Olympian and two-time former world champion, which may have marked a generational change in the weight class.

Amantur ISMAILOV (KGZ)Amantur ISMAILOV (KGZ) tries to pin HUSIYUETU (CHN) in 67kg semifinals. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Amirreza Aliasgari)

The other Paris berth at 67kg went to Amantur ISMAILOV (KGZ), who thrilled the home crowd with a second-period surge that gave him a 9-1 victory over HUSIYUETU (CHN).

Leading 1-0 off a passivity point in the first period, Ismailov started the second by fighting off a throw for a takedown, then charged ahead with a reverse body lift for a 2-point exposure. China challenged the original takedown, only to see it not only affirmed, but Husiyuetu assessed a 2-point penalty for touching the leg while he was being sent to his back.

The penalty, while giving Ismailov a 7-1 lead, also put him on the top in par terre, and he turned Husiyuetu over to end the match at 3:58.

Amin KAVIYANI (IRI)Amin KAVIYANI (IRI) celebrates after winning the Paris Olympic 77kg quota for Iran. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Amirreza Aliasgari)

At 77kg, Iran's Asian Games silver medalist Kaviyani was made to work hard for his Paris ticket, clinching a tense 6-5 victory over Rui LIU (CHN) by scoring the last of three consecutive stepouts with 49 seconds left.

Liu got off to a good start in his bid to avenge a 1-1 semifinal loss at last October's Asian Games in China when he completed a roll from par terre, and had a 2-point leg blocking penalty tacked on for a 5-0 lead. Kaviyani cut the gap with a counter takedown before the break.

"Everything was under control, but unfortunately I got a two-point warning," Kaviyani said. "In my opinion, there was no foot fault but it made the fight more difficult for me."

In the second period, Kaviyani received a passivity point but allowed Liu to pop out from par terre, leaving him trailing 5-3. But then the three-time Asian medalist launched his succession of stepouts to march to victory and a likely trip to Paris.

"At the Asian Games where the Chinese were the hosts, against the Chinese wrestler who is powerful, I won the match with a 1-1 score, but today I was able to get more technical points in this match," Kaviyani said. "I was under a bit of pressure and I had to get the best result. I’m thankful that I could get that result and the Olympic quota."

Alireza MOHMADIPIANI (IRI)Alireza MOHMADIPIANI (IRI) defeated Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) to win the 87kg quota for Iran. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Amirreza Aliasgari)

A short time later at 87kg, Mohmadipiani was also taken to the limit in securing Iran's sixth Olympic quota with a 3-2 victory over Asian Games champion Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB).

Berdimuratov was only able to gain a 1-point stepout from a throw attempt out of par terre in the first period, and that would make the difference when Mohmadpiani, the world silver medalist at 82kg, got 2 from a throw in the same situation in the second period.

"I’m thankful that I could get the Olympic quota one year after the World Championships, especially when I was able to go from 82kg to 87kg," Mohmadpiani said. "I feel really good that I could keep this weight and I hope I can defeat my opponents in the Olympics."

Looking toward Paris, Mohmadpiani added, "My plan for the Olympics is to fix my flaws and add some new techniques so I can wrestle some mistake-free matches in the Olympics and shine."

Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB)Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) celebrates after beating Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) to win the Paris 2024 quota. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

At 97kg, the ageless Assakalov rumbled to another Olympics with a 3-1 victory over Tokyo Olympian Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ), who was his own worst enemy by committing a 2-point penalty for grabbing the singlet.

Assakalov, coming off a bronze-medal performance at the Asian Games, was put in par terre first, but was unable to add points against Dzhuzupbekov, a five-time Asian medalist and 2019 champion.

In the second period, Assakalov initiated a challenge to get Dzhuzupbekov tagged for grabbing the singlet that had gone unnoticed by the referee. The challenge worked, and Assakalov now had a 3-0 lead.

All he had to do was survive a stint on the bottom of par terre, which he did, and then used his vast experience to hold off Dzhuzupbekov while avoiding a passivity caution.

Assakalov, whose longevity is a testament to his love of the sport, has a long list of career achievements. He finished eighth at both the 2016 Rio and 2021 Tokyo Olympics, won a world silver in 2015 and bronze in 2017, and has eight Asian medals, including three golds.

It was singlet-grabbing that also proved the downfall for Ibrahim FALLATAH (KSA) in the other 97kg match, in which he lost 5-1 to Seungjun KIM (KOR) to fall short of becoming Saudi Arabia's first-ever wrestler in the Olympics.

Fallatah was hit with a 2-point penalty for grabbing the singlet in each period, while both wrestlers received a passivity point but were unable to score in par terre.

The loss by Sultan EID (JOR) to Haitao QIAN (CHN) in the other 87kg match was much more straightforward, as the Chinese held the upper hand throughout in a 7-0 victory in denying Jordan its first-ever Olympic wrestler.

Qian, a 2019 world bronze medalist at 82kg, was put in par terre in the first period and took advantage with a pair of gut wrenches for a 5-0 lead. In the second period, he used an underhook for a driving takedown to put the victory on ice.

Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ)Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) scores a match-winning takedown against Dowon LEE (KOR) at 77kg. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

In the other 77kg match, veteran four-time Asian medalist Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) seemed to be heading straight to defeat when his opponent Dowon LEE (KOR) suddenly crumbled late in their bout, giving Zhadrayev a 5-2 victory and a possible second trip to the Olympics.

Lee began brightly with a nice arm drag for a takedown that gave him a 2-0 lead at the break. And when he gave up a passivity point and was put on bottom, he kept a one-point lead by slipping out of a roll attempt for no points.

But with Zhadrayev viciously pressing ahead at the edge, Lee was holding out quite well until he suddenly ran out of gas and was crushed to the mat for a takedown with 30 seconds to go. Lee then limply went over for a 2-point exposure.

For the wrestlers at 60kg, the tournament provided a golden opportunity for an Olympic place, as Asian nations swept all five places in the weight class in Belgrade -- the only region to do so in any of the three styles.

Two-time world bronze medalist Aidos SULTANGALI (KAZ) came out the winner in the opening match of the night session with a victory by fall over Jui Chi HUANG (TPE).

Sultangali got four points by driving Huang onto his back in defense of an awkward arm throw, then added a gut wrench and a throw that ended up being ruled a stepout. A challenge by the Chinese Taipei downgraded the original 4-pointer to two, leaving Sultangali with a 5-0 lead.

Sultangali, the 2021 Asian champion, went right back to work, sticking Huang with a textbook-perfect headlock throw and securing the fall at 2:28.

Huang was attempting to become Chinese Taipei's first-ever male wrestler to qualify for the Olympics. The nation has had just one wrestler in the Olympics, Wen-Ling CHEN (TPE), who appeared in women's 69kg at the 2016 Rio Games.

Se Ung RI (PRK)Se Ung RI (PRK) won the DPR Korea's first Greco-Roman quota for Paris Olympics at 60kg. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

In the other match at 60kg, Se Ung RI (PRK) scored a first-period takedown and held on for a 3-0 victory over Dahyun KIM (KOR), who was thrown off his feet twice in the match but somehow managed to keep the moves from scoring points.

Ri looked like he would take an early lead when he hit Kim with a hip throw, but the Korean cartwheeled out of it and landed on his feet for no points. When Ri received a passivity point and was put on top of par terre, he lifted Kim off the mat but was unable to get enough height for points.

Ri got on the scoreboard again with a nice duck-under takedown for a 3-0 lead at the break, and in the second period, he kept the pressure on to avoid giving Kim a chance in par terre.

Korea picked up its second victory of the night at 130kg, when Seungchan LEE (KOR) cruised to a 9-0 win over surprise semifinalist Sota OKUMURA (JPN). Lee gained a passivity point and proceeded to reel off four straight rolls to win in 1:36, the shortest bout of the night.

Okumura, who was looking to become the first Japanese heavyweight in Greco to make the Olympics since 1996, had never won a match in eight previous international tournaments before he rallied to defeat Tamurbek NASIMOV (UZB) 12-6 to move one step away from Paris. That had avenged a loss to Nasimov at the Asian Games.

Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ)Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) hung on for a 7-7 victory over Roman KIM (KGZ) at 130kg. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

Asian Games bronze medalist Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) capped the tournament by fighting off fatigue and home favorite Roman KIM (KGZ) to eke out a 7-7 win in the other 130kg match.

The match between the three-time Asian medalists started with a bang, or a slap as it were. After scoring a stepout, Syzdykov was awarded two points when Kim lashed him with a sharp slap to the ear like the type seen more in sumo wrestling. Kim then spun behind for a takedown to cut Syzydkov's lead to 3-2 at the break.

Syzydkov padded the lead to 7-2 with a takedown and gut wrench, but after that, it was obvious he was running on fumes. Kim put the pressure on and scored a pair of stepouts, with a fleeing point tacked onto the second one to make it 7-5, before Syzydkov was assessed a 2-point penalty for inactivity.

Leading 7-7 on criteria, Syzydkov dropped to the mat at one point complaining of knee pain and received treatment much to the chagrin of the partisan crowd. But Kim had little left in the tank himself and was unable to muster enough energy for a final push.


Paris 2024 Qualification Matches


Aidos SULTANGALI (KAZ) df. Jui Chi HUANG (TPE) by Fall, 2:28 (10-0)
Se Ung RI (PRK) df. Dahyun KIM (KOR), 3-0

Amantur ISMAILOV (KGZ) df. HUSIYUETU (CHN) by TF, 9-1, 3:58
Kyotaro SOGABE (JPN) df. Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ) by TF, 11-2, 6:00

Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) df. Dowon LEE (KOR), 5-2

Haitao QIAN (CHN) df. Sultan EID (JOR), 7-0
Alireza MOHMADIPIANI (IRI) df. Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB), 3-2

Seungjun KIM (KOR) df. Ibrahim FALLATAH (KSA), 5-1

Seungchan LEE (KOR) df. Sota OKUMURA (JPN) by TF, 9-0, 1:36
Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) df. Roman KIM (KGZ), 7-7