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|Henson vs. Achilov is the new “Bout of the Week” on USA Wrestling Audio/Video website|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
USA Wrestling has updated its new "Bout of the Week" which has been posted as a video file on-line on TheMat.com Audio/Video website .
The featured match this week is the 2006 Sammie Henson vs. Adcham Achilov bronze medal match at 55 kg/121 lbs. in men's freestyle at the World Wrestling Championships in Guangzhou, China.
The match was a battle of two veterans, fighting to take home a medal after losing to the same wrestler earlier in the day. Sammie Henson of the United States, age 35, had reached the highest level of success with a World gold medal in 1998. Achilov, age 30, was a World silver medalist in 1999. Only one of these wrestlers would leave China with a World medal.
The wrestler that both Henson and Achilov lost to was 2005 World silver medalist Radoslav Velikov of Bulgaria, who went on to capture the gold medal at the weight class, defeating Besik Kudukhov of Russia in the finals.
Henson has had a long and exciting international wrestling career, with many ups and downs. He actually came on to the U.S. international wrestling scene as a Greco-Roman wrestler, qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials while still a Missouri high school student, then winning a U.S. Nationals Greco-Roman title in 1990.
While in college, Henson turned his focus to freestyle wrestling. He was a two-time NCAA champion at Clemson (1993, 1994), then went after his Olympic dream in freestyle. For a number of years, Henson battled in the very deep 52 kg/114.5 lbs. division within the United States. World Champion and Olympic medalist Zeke Jones controlled this weight class for seven straight years, and other top athletes such as 1996 Olympian Lou Rosselli and talented Eric Akin were also in the weight class.
Henson had his first chance at the World level in 1998, when he went to the World Championships in Tehran, Iran and made history. Henson defeated 1996 Olympic silver medalist Namik Abdullayev of Azerbaijan in the finals. An injury hampered Henson in 1999, and he did not make the U.S. team, with Akin going to the World Championships. However, at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Henson emerged as the American entry. Henson went on to win a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, losing only to Abdullayev in a controversial finals bout.
The next four years were challenging for Henson, who did not compete on a consistent basic. These were the seasons where Stephen Abas controlled this weight class within the United States, making the U.S. World and Olympic teams four straight years (2001-04). Henson made a strong push for the 2004 Olympic team spot, but lost in a competitive battle with Abas in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Indianapolis, Ind. Abas went on to win the Olympic silver medal in Athens, Greece.
In 2001, Henson returned to the top of the U.S. wrestling scene at this weight class. Abas moved up in weight and was not a factor. Henson made the 2005 U.S. World Team, placing a disappointing 14th in the standings. Once again in 2006, Henson made the U.S. team, beating high school sensation Henry Cejudo in the Trials finals.
Achilov wrestled his entire international career for Uzbekistan. He competed at World Championships events on the Cadet, Junior and Espoir levels, winning World silver medals as a Junior in 1994 and an Espoir in 1995. His first Senior World Championships came in 1995, when he placed 11th at 52 kg/114.5 lbs.
Achilov's performances began to improve in 1996, when he won a gold medal at the Asian Championships. He placed seventh at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., and had established himself as one of the top challengers in his weight class internationally.
Achilov competed in the next three World Championships and broke through with a World silver medal in 1999 in Ankara, Turkey. He earned a spot in his second Olympic Games in 2000, placing eighth in Sydney, Australia.
Like Henson, Achilov did not have a very strong Olympic four-year cycle from 2001-04. He only competed at the World Championships once during that quadrennium, placing fourth in the 2002 World meet in Tehran, Iran.
Uzbekistan developed another star at his weight class, Dilshod Mansurov, who won the 2003 World gold medal in New York City and the 2005 World gold medal in Budapest, Hungary. It was Mansurov who competed for Uzbekistan at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but he failed to win a medal. Although Mansurov won the 2006 Asian Championships, it was Achilov who represented Uzbekistan in the 2006 World Championships in China.
Henson opened the 2006 World Championships in Guangzhou with a clutch victory over past World champion Rene Montero of Cuba. He followed that with victories over Francisco Sanchez of Spain and Taghi Dadashi of Iran. In the semifinals, Henson lost to Velikov, which placed Henson in the bronze-medal round.
Achilov was on the same side of the bracket as Henson. He won his first two bouts, stopping Vahan Simonyan of Armenia and Fredy Serrano of Colombia. In the quarterfinals, he lost to Velikov. When Velikov defeated Henson to qualify for the finals, Achilov was drawn back into the wrestle-backs. He defeated Nam O Song of North Korea in the first wrestleback match to reach a bronze-medal bout against Henson.
Henson's 2-1, 2-0 victory over Achilov gave him one of the bronze medals, and Achilov placed fifth in the standings. It was Henson's third career World-level medal, to go with the World gold in 1998 and the Olympic silver in 2000. He became one of the few American athletes to win a medal of each color on the World and Olympic levels. Both Henson and Achilov are expected to continue their quest for another Olympic Games in 2008 in Beijing, China.
This popular feature will be changed on a regular basis, allowing members to enjoy many of the greatest matches in wrestling history. Posted in the archive section of the Members Only web page was the 2006 Artur Taimazov vs. Kuramagomed Kuramagomedov gold medal finals at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. in men's freestyle at the World Wrestling Championships in Guangzhou, China.. Many other entertaining and historic matches are in the archive section for the Bout of the Week.