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|2005 World Championships preview at 60 kg/132 lbs. in menís freestyle wrestling|
By John Fuller USA Wrestling
Cuba's Yandro Quintana has dominated the 60 kg/132 lbs. weight class in men's freestyle wrestling the past few years, winning an Olympic gold last year and a silver medal at the 2003 World Championships. He also won a gold medal at this year's World Cup, showing that he is still the man to beat at this weight class.
Iran's 27 year-old Maoud Jokar won the silver medal at last year's Olympic Games, but has not competed since. His finish was somewhat of a surprise, and Iran has a few competitors that could be thrown into the mix this year at the World Championships.
S. Kalki captured gold at the Asian Championships for Iran. Veteran Behnam Tayebi-Kermani won a bronze medal at the World Cup. He had not even competed at a major event since the 2001 World Championships. At the World University Games, Abbas Baglarbagi won a bronze medal.
Kenji Inoue of Japan won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games last year. But like so many other medalists in freestyle, has not competed since that event. His medal was even more amazing after he had to win a qualification tournament to get into the Olympics.
If Inoue is not competing in the World Championships, then Japan will throw a fresh face out on the mat. The face will most likely be that of either Kojima Takafumi, who won a bronze medal at this year's Asian Championships, or Noriyuki Takatsuka, who won a bronze medal at this year's Junior World Championships.
One of the most promising athletes at this weight class may be 24 year-old Vasyl Fedorishin of Ukraine. Fedorishin placed fourth at the Olympic Games last year, losing only to Quintana (3-1) and Inoue (6-5 in overtime). He has been placing high in Senior-level events since 2001, but has yet to win a medal. This year, he won his first European title, showing he may be ready to take the next step at the World Championships.
Another young wrestler to watch for could be 23 year-old Tevfik Odabasi of Turkey, who recently won silver at the World University Games. He gained valuable experience at the Olympic Games last year and placed sixth in the 2003 World Championships.
Two-time Olympian David Pogosyan of Georgia has been on the international scene for nearly two decades now. He has not competed since last year's Olympic Games. Koba Kakaladze is 10 years younger than Pogosyan. He did not place at the European Championships, but he will most likely be the new face for Georgia, at least for this year.
30 year-old 2003 World bronze medalist Song-Jae Myung of Korea made a return to the mat this year, placing fifth at the Asian Championships. He did not compete in the Olympic Games last year, however, as 23 year-old Young-Ho Jung placed eighth. With the low placing by Myung at the Asian Championships, Korea may bring Jung to the World Championships.
The first year after an Olympic Games can be a year when many past champions who have not competed in a while come out of the woodwork.
Past champions that could return, but are unlikely are Arif Abdullayev of Azerbaijan (37 years old), who was not competed since winning World gold in 2003, 2002 World champion Aram Margaryan of Armenia (31), who has not competed since getting defeated in his pool at the 2003 World Championships, and 2001 World champion Giuvi Sissaouri of Canada (34), who has not competed since placing sixth at last year's Olympic Games.
The U.S. will have a new face at this weight class - Michael Lightner, who after missing numerous events due to knee injuries the last few years, has rebounded to get to the top of the U.S. ladder. With his confidence level at an all-time high, Lightner could be an athlete that will surprise some international opponents.
Russia has struggled in this weight class in past years. The national champion this year was Alan Dudaev, a 24 year-old who has not competed in many international events. Mavlet Batirov, who won Olympic gold at 55 kg/121 lbs. last year, wrestled at 60 kg in the Russian Nationals, but was defeated by Dudaev. It would also not be surprising if Russia brought 2000 Olympic champion Mourad Oumakhanov, who placed 10th at last year's Games and has experience in this weight class.
At the continental championships, many new faces graced the award stand this year, leaving questions as to how young this weight class could be at the World Championships.
The European Championships featured some unheralded medalists below Fedorishin, with Didier Pais of France winning the silver and Lukasz Goral of Poland and Mourad Ramazanov of Macedonia taking the bronze medals. Ramazanov was an Olympian in 2000, competing for Russia.
At the Asian Championships, Ri Yong Chol of North Korea won a silver medal after losing to Kalki. Takafumi and three-time Olympian Damir Zakhartinov of Uzbekistan won bronze medals.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2004 Olympic Games results
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Yandro Quintana (Cuba) dec. Maoud Jokar (Iran), 4-0; Bronze - Kenji Inoue (Japan) dec. Vasyl Fedoryshin (Ukraine), 6-5, ot, 6:45; 5th - David Pogosian (Georgia) by inj. Def. over Giuvi Sissaouri (Canada); 7th - Jung Young Ho (Korea); 8th - Lubos Cikel (Austria); 9th - Damir Zakhartdinov (Uzbekistan); 10th - Mourad Oumakhanov (Russia)
2003 World Championships results
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Arif Abdullaev (Azerbaijan) dec. Yandro Quintana (Cuba), 4-3; Bronze - Song Jae-Myung (Korea) dec. Sushil Kumar (India), 3-1; 5th - David Pogozian (Georgia); 6th - Tevfik Odabasi (Turkey); 7th - Ulu Ulan Dadyrabek (Kyrgyzstan); 8th - Damir Zakhartdinov (Uzbekistan); 9th - Lubos Cikel (Austria); 10th - Eric Guerrero (United States)
2002 World Championships results
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Aram Margaryan (Armenia); Silver - Oyunbileg Purebaatar (Mongolia); Bronze - Mohammed Talaee (Iran); 4th - Petru Toarca (Romania); 5th - David Pogosian (Georgia); 6th - Damir Zakhartdinov (Uzbekistan); 7th - Daniel Wild (Germany); 8th - Arif Abdullayev (Azerbaijan); 9th - Bezik Aslanasvili (Greece); 10th - Meiroms Beisebaev (Kazakhstan)
2001 World Championships results
58 kg/127.75 lbs. - Gold - Giuvi Sissaouri (Canada) dec. Purevbaator Oyunbileg (Mongolia), 5-2, ot; Bronze - David Pogosian (Georgia) dec. Anatoliy Guidia (Bulgaria), 3-0; 5th - Vasil Fedorishin (Ukraine); 6th - Arif Abdullayev (Azerbaijan); 7th - Yandro Quintana (Cuba); 8th - Zelimkhan Gousseihov (Russia); 9th - Petru Toarca (Romania); 10th - Bahman Tayebi (Iran)