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2005 World Championships preview at 55 kg/121 lbs. in menís Greco-Roman wrestling



The 2005 World Championships will be held in Budapest, Hungary, and the 55 kg division in Greco-Roman will feature a local hero, 2004 Olympic champion Istvan Majoros of Hungary. Although known in his native land prior to the Athens Olympic Games, Majoros was not considered a major star in the sport. He qualified for the Olympics by placing third in an Olympic qualifying event, one of the last athletes to make the field. Yet, with the biggest prize in sports on the line, Majoros had a great performance in Athens to win the gold medal. Now he returns to Hungary, seeking a World title in front of his hometown fans.

This weight division was loaded with talented stars, making Majoros victory even more surprising. Placing second at the Olympics was Gaidar Mamadaliev of Russia, a 2002 World Champion and a veteran star.

Prior to the Olympics, this division had no dominant athlete, and seemed to find a new World champion each year. Among the wrestlers who competed in the Athens Games were other past World Champions Dariusz Jablonski of Poland (2003), Hassan Rangraz of Iran (2001), Sim Kwon-Ho of Korea (2000), Lazaro Rivas of Cuba (1999) and Ercan Yildiz of Turkey (1997).

When they were wrestling well, both Rivas and Rangraz were considered among the best wrestlers in the entire world, regardless of weight. Rivas was also a 2000 Olympic silver medalist and 2001 World bronze medalist, and received FILA's Wrestler of the Year award. Rangraz won a World bronze medal in 2002, but many felt he was the best wrestler, as he was accidently pinned in the semifinals while ahead of his match by nine points, going for the technical fall. Rangraz won a silver medal at the World University Games this summer in Turkey.

The 2004 Olympic bronze medalist was also a surprise, Artioum Kiouregian of Greece, who fed off the energy from his countrymen in Athens. Aleksey Vakulenko of Ukraine had a career best performance by placing fourth in the Olympics. Irakli Chachua of Georgia placed sixth, also one of the most impressive performances of his career. These athletes may be among the talented upstarts who look to take over the division heading into the 2008 Olympic Games.

Other past World-level medalists who could be in contention in Budapest could be Im Dae Wong of Korea, the 2003 World silver medalist and Petr Svehla of Czech Republic, a World bronze medalist in 2003.

A look at the continental results saw few of the name athletes even on the mats. The medalists at the European Championships were not well known, with Viktor Korabiev of Russia (gold), Roman Amoyan of Armenia (silver), and Ivo Angelov of Bulgaria and Bayram Oezdemir of Turkey (bronze).

The Asian Championships gold medal this year went to a North Korean, Cha Kwang-Su, who beat Korea's World silver medalist Im Dae Wong in the finals. Mukesh Katri of India and Singho Hirai of Japan won the bronze medals. A different North Korean athlete, Il Ri Kyong, won a gold medal at the World University Games this summer.

U.S. brings a new starter, veteran Lindsey Durlacher, who has the experience and skill to be a major factor. Durlacher has been competing overseas for many years, and battled World and Olympic medalist Brandon Paulson for many years on the domestic scene. He enters his first World tournament with considerable confidence.

The Pytlasinski Tournament, held every summer in Poland, is often a good indication of which athletes are well-prepared for success at the World Championships. This year, the tournament had additional importance, as the first big international tournament with the new FILA Greco-Roman rules instituted in June. The forced parterre from the reverse lift may make a big difference in which athletes are medal contenders.

The Pytlasinski champion this year was Ovran Kalilov of Kyrgyzstan, with Hungary's Olympic champion Majoros winning a silver medal. Capturing the bronze medals were past World champion Jablonski of Poland, as well as Reinhanpour Soryan of Iran.

This will be a very interesting year at 55 kg, especially if many of the veteran champions from past years continue to compete. However, with new rules in place and many new athletes competing for the first time, the results will be hard to predict. We may see a brand new World champion again this season.

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2004 Olympic Games results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Ivan Majoros (Hungary); Silver - Geider Mamadaliev (Russia); Bronze - Artiom Kiorgegkian (Greece); 4th - Oleksiy Vakulenko (Ukraine); 5th- Lazaro Rivas (Cuba); 6th - Irakli Chachua (Georgia); 7th - Im Dae Wong (Korea); 8th - Hakkan Nyblom (Denmark); 9th -Hassan Rangraz (Iran); 10th - Masatoshi Toyoda (Japan)

2003 World Championships results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Dariusz Jablonski (Poland) dec. Im Dae-Wong (Korea), 6-5; Bronze - Lazaro Rivas (Cuba) dec. Petr Svehla (Czech Rep.), 5-1; 5th - Marian Sandu (Romania); 6th - Uran Kalilov (Kyrgyzstan); 7th - Hasan Rangraz (Iran); 8th - Hakan Nyblom (Denmark); 9th - Svajunas Adomaitis (Lithuania); 10th - Oleksiy Vakulenko (Ukraine)

2002 World Championship results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Geider Mamadaliyev (Russia) dec. Nepes Gukulov (Turkmenistan), 4-0; Bronze - Hassan Rangraz (Iran) won by tech. fall over Ashot Khachaturyan (Armenia), 10-0, 4:39; 5th (tie) Marian Sandu (Romania) and Ercan Yldiz (Turkey); 7th - Artiom Kiouregian (Greece); 8th - Brandon Paulson (United States); 9th - Irakli Tchotchua (Georgia); 10th - Oleksandr Vakulenko (Ukraine)

2001 World Championships results
54 kg/119 lbs. - Gold - Hassan Rangraz (Iran) dec. Brandon Paulson (USA), 8-4; Bronze - Lazaro Rivas (Cuba) dec. Uran Kalilov (Kyrgyzstan), 3-1; 5th - Khatri Mukesh (India); 6th - Barys Radkevich (Belarus); 7th - Rakymzhan Assembekov (Kazakhstan); 8th - Tenyo Tenev (Bulgaria); 9th - Tomoya Murata (Japan); 10th - Oleg Koucherenko (Germany)
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