Dauletbekov wins third straight Asian gold; Zare grabs 5th for Iran

By Ken Marantz

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (April 12) -- Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) was not only aiming to complete a three-peat of Asian titles. There was a score to settle and wasn't going to let the chance to waste.

Dauletbekov willed himself to a late 4-point takedown to post a 5-2 victory over nemesis Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) in the freestyle 86kg final at the Asian Championships on Friday in Bishkek, avenging a pair of losses over the past three years including one that kept him out of the Tokyo Olympics.

"I am very happy to be a three-time Asian champion, winning the gold medal for my country," Dauletbekov said. "I’ve been working hard for that. Thanks a lot to my coaches. It’s a team effort."

World champion Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) handily won the gold at 125kg for his first Asian title which, combined with a victory at 92kg by Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI), gave Iran exactly half of the 10 gold medals over the two days of freestyle at Bishkek Arena.

The host country got its first gold when defending champion Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) scored a late takedown for a dramatic victory at 61kg, while Japan picked up its second as Kota TAKAHASHI also left it late in winning at 74kg and denying Tajikistan just its second-ever Asian gold.

Iran captured the team title for the sixth time in seven years with 190 points. Japan finished second with 130, followed by host Kyrgyzstan with 121, three points ahead of neighbor Kazakhstan.

Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ)Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) scores a crucial takedown over Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB) in the 86kg final during the Asian Championships. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kostadin Andonov)

Dauletbekov, a world bronze medalist the past two years, became the second wrestler at the tournament to complete the Asian three-peat after Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI) did it the day before at 65kg.

For all Dauletbekov's shining credentials, Shapiev has remained a thorn in his side. Although Dauletbekov won 4-0 in a bronze-medal match at the 2018 Asian Championships in their first meeting, the Uzbek defeated him by fall at the 2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier -- Shapiev went on to place fifth in Tokyo -- and then again at last year's Asian Games, where Dauletbekov finished out of the medals.

On Friday, Dauletbekov managed to step up when the chips were down.

"The final match was a matter of principle for me," Dauletbekov said. "I lost to him [Shapiev] at the Asian Games. I think that match was controversial. I am very happy that I could win here."

In the first period, the scoring was limited to an activity point awarded to Dauletbekov, but Shapiev was on the receiving end of the next one in the second period, which put him ahead on criteria.

Dauletbekov, however, was not to be denied. He secured a body lock and used an inside trip to send Shapiev crashing to his back for a 4-point takedown. A penalty point for fleeing on Dauletbekov in the final seconds accounted for the final score as he added the title to the ones he captured in Ulan Bataar in 2022 and last year at home in Astana.

"I won my second Asian title at home, there were many fans, I will remember that tournament," he said. "This Asian Championships was successful for me. You saw that in the final, I was losing 1-1, but I could make a 4-point move to win the match with a 5-2 score."

Dauletbekov said he is considering entering the Budapest Ranking Series tournament in June as a last tuneup for the Olympics. He said he's been keeping tabs on the competition and likes his chances in Paris.

"I followed the [European] Olympic qualifier in Baku," he said. "There are many strong opponents in my weight class. I’ll be ready for them and hope everything will work out."

Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI)Amir Hossein ZARE (IRI) won the 125kg with a technical superiority over Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ). (Photo: United World Wrestling)

In the final match of the night, Zare showed why he is the dominant heavyweight in the sport today. Facing Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ) -- at age 38, 15 years his senior -- Zare put on a clinic in quickly transitioning from takedown to exposure points in cruising to an 11-0 technical fall.

"Due to the good training we went through at the Iran national team camp, I participated in this match with less than 100% preparation and thanks to God I could get the gold," Zare said.

Lazarev was on the activity clock when Zare scored a takedown with a slick ankle pick. Before the 30 seconds had finished, the Iraninan had ripped off a pair of gut wrenches, giving him a 7-0 lead going into the second period. A takedown right to a roll for 4 ended the match with 32 seconds left.

Zare, a Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist and world champion in 2021, will be heading into the Paris Olympics on quite a roll. Since winning the world title last year in Belgrade -- which included victories over superstars Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) and Taha AKGUL (TUR) -- he won golds at the Asian Games and this year's Zagreb Open.

"This is my last competition before the Olympics," Zare said. "I needed both the ranking points and the fact that the Asian medal is valuable for our country, and thank God I didn’t return empty-handed."

Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ)Taiyrbek ZHUMASHBEK UULU (KGZ) defended his 61kg title at the Asian Championships in Bishkek, thanks to a last ditch takedown in the final. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

In the 61kg final, Zhumashbek Uulu didn't cut it as close as he did in his semifinal match earlier in the day, but he still took it to the wire to defeat Assyl AITAKYN (KAZ) 3-1 and complete a successful defense of his title.

Both wrestlers received an activity point, but Aitakyn got his midway through the second period to lead on criteria. With 20 seconds left, Zhumashbek Uulu scored a snap-down, spin-behind takedown to clinch the win to the delight of the partisan crowd.

In the semifinals, Zhumashbek Uulu was trailing on criteria when he hit a 4-point back trip in the last second for a stunning 11-7 victory over Reza ATRI (IRI).

Kota TAKAHASHI (JPN)Kota TAKAHASHI (JPN) scores a takedown to take a decisive lead in the 74kg final against Victor RASSADIN (TJK). (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kostadin Andonov)

Takahashi's 6-3 victory in the 74kg final against Viktor RASSADIN (TJK) followed a similar pattern. Takahashi got the first activity point, but was trailing on criteria when Rassadin got the second in the second period.

Takahashi, a 2022 world U23 bronze medalist who was making his international senior debut, then put the pressure on. That left an opening that Rassadin used to get in on a low single, but Takahashi nimble-footed out of it, then turned and charged Rassadin for a takedown.

"The opponent went into a firm defensive stance," Takahashi said. "I wanted to attack, but I couldn't get through where I wanted to. I couldn't score any takedowns and I was starting to get impatient."

The 20-year-old Takahashi said he was inspired by the victory at 57kg the previous night by Kento YUMIYA (JPN), his teammate at Nippon Sport Science University, often referred to as Nittaidai.

"Kento Yumiya won the title, and that made me a little anxious," Takahashi said. "I wanted to show that Nittaidai wrestling is strong. And I couldn't do less than a classmate the same age."

Rassadin was penalized a point for fleeing on the takedown, and Takahashi took advantage of the par terre position to score an exposure for a 6-1 lead. Rassadin scored a stepout, with a fleeing point tacked on, but it was not enough to deny Takahashi.

Rassadin was aiming to join Yusup ABDULSALAMOV (TJK), who triumphed in the same weight class in 2003 in New Dehli, as Tajikistan's lone Asian gold medalists.

Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI)Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) celebrates after winning the 92kg gold medal in Bishkek. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan)

At 92kg, Firouzpour regained the title he won in 2022 when he relied on his solid base and raw power to chalk up six stepouts in an 8-3 victory over teenager Sherzod POYONOV (UZB).

Firouzpour, the world U20 and U23 champion in 2022 and winner at this year's Yasar Dogu tournament in Turkey, scored three stepouts in the first period, while giving up one himself. He added three more in the second before finally scoring a takedown off an underhook. Poyonov scored a consolation takedown in the final seconds.

Kum Chol RI (PRK)Kum Chol RI (PRK) blanked Reza ATRI (IRI) 11-0 in the 61kg bronze medal bout. (Photo: United World Wrestling / Amirreza Aliasgari)

DPR Korea picks up 2nd bronze in return

In the bronze-medal matches, Kum Chol RI (PRK) gave the DPK Korea its second bronze in its return to the Asian Championships after a five-year absence by putting together a masterful 11-0 victory over 2022 world silver medalist Reza ATRI (IRI) at 61kg.

After scoring a nifty low-single takedown, Ri showed incredible dexterity and balance when he twice cartwheeled out of front-headlock counter lifts, both of which he turned into stepouts. The Iranians challenged the second, but it was denied to give Ri a 5-0 lead.

In the second period, Ri, making his first international appearance since winning an Asian cadet title in 2014, spun behind for a takedown, then went back and forth with an arm bar roll to finish off the match in 4:16.

The other 61kg bronze went to Enkhbold ENKHBAT (MGL), who put together a somewhat unusual winning pattern in a wild 18-7 victory over Akash DAHIYA (IND).

Enkhbat twice used a takedown and lace lock combination to chalk up big points -- eight in the first period and 10 in the second to end the match. But in between, he allowed Dahiya to come back and score seven points to cut the gap to one.

Sangho HAN (KOR) gave Korea its first medal of the competition with an amazing comeback at 74kg, overcoming a seven-point deficit to defeat teenager Alp BEGENJOV (TKM) 17-7 and deny Turkmenistan its first-ever senior Asian medal in freestyle.

The 17-year-old Begenjov came out on fire, kicking out the leg for a 4-point takedown before adding a stepout and a takedown for a 7-0 lead. But then he ran out of gas, and Han took full advantage, scoring two takedowns, a stepout and two exposures to go ahead 9-7 at the break.

It was more of the same in the second, as he used a lace lock for four points, then a takedown to a roll for four more to end the match at 3:34.

Iran added two bronze medals to its final tally with victories by Hossein ABOUZARI (IRI) at 74kg and Hadi VAFAEIPOUR (IRI) at 86kg.

Abouzari, making his senior Asian debut, scored all of his points in the second period of a 5-2 victory over 2021 champion Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ). Vafaeipour had an easier time with Peilong LI (CHN), scoring two takedown-exposure combinations in a 10-0 technical fall in 2:31.

Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN), a 2022 world U23 champion appearing in just his second international tournament on the senior level, came away with the other 86kg bronze with a 3-0 victory over Atai IZABEKOV (KGZ). Shirai was the aggressor throughout and was rewarded with two activity points, then added a stepout at the buzzer.

Bahrain had two wrestlers named SHARIPOV in action, and both came away with bronze medals with one-sided victories.

Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN) picked up his second straight Asian bronze at 92kg after scoring four takedowns, including a 4-pointer, in a 10-0 technical fall over Suhe GANG (CHN), and Shamil SHARIPOV (BRN) scored a second-period fall over Anirudh KUMAR (IND) after building an 8-2 lead at 125kg.

Batzul DAMJIN (MGL) won the other 92kg bronze and broke some host country hearts, scoring a duck-under takedown with 40 seconds left for a 2-2 victory on criteria over Nurtilek KARYPBAEV (KGZ). Both of Karypbaev's points came on the activity clock.

BUHEEERDUN (CHN) needed just 44 seconds to secure his second straight bronze at 125kg, scoring a takedown and executing four gut wrenches for a 10-0 victory over Odgerel BATKHISHIG (MGL).



Day 2 Results


61kg (15 entries)

BRONZE: Kum Chol RI (PRK) df. Reza ATRI (IRI) by TF, 11-0, 4:16
BRONZE: Enkhbold ENKHBAT (MGL) df. Akash DAHIYA (IND) by TF, 18-7, 5:29

74kg (16 entries)

BRONZE: Hossein ABOUZARI (IRI) df. Syrbaz TALGAT (KAZ), 5-2
BRONZE: Sangho HAN (KOR) df. Alp BEGENJOV (TKM) by TF, 17-7, 3:34

86kg (12 entries)
GOLD: Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) df. Javrail SHAPIEV (UZB), 5-2

BRONZE: Hadi VAFAEIPOUR (IRI) df. Peilong LI (CHN) by TF, 10-0, 2:31
BRONZE: Tatsuya SHIRAI (JPN) df. Atai IZABEKOV (KGZ), 3-0

92kg (12 entries)
GOLD: Amirhossein FIROUZPOUR (IRI) df. Sherzod POYONOV (UZB), 8-3

BRONZE: Magomed SHARIPOV (BRN) df. Suhe GANG (CHN) by TF, 10-0, 3:34
BRONZE: Batzul DAMJIN (MGL) df. Nurtilek KARYPBAEV (KGZ), 2-2

125kg (11 entries)
GOLD: Amir ZARE (IRI) df. Aiaal LAZAREV (KGZ) by TF, 11-0, 5:27

BRONZE: Shamil SHARIPOV (BRN) df. Anirudh KUMAR (IND) by Fall, 4:15 (8-2)
BRONZE: BUHEEERDUN (CHN) df. Odgerel BATKHISHIG (MGL) by TF, 10-0, :44

#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