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2007 World Championships preview at 74 kg/163 lbs. in menís Greco-Roman wrestling

The reigning World champion at 74 kg in Greco-Roman is Volodym Shatskym of Ukraine, who has not competed in a major event on the international scene since his victory. Shastkym had never won a medal at a Senior World or Continental tournament prior to his upset win in China last summer. He is listed as Ukraine's entry again this year, so he will be traveling to Azerbaijan to defend his title.

The 2006 World silver medalist was veteran Marko Yli-Hannuksela of Finland, who boasts a 1997 World gold medal and a bronze medal from the 2000 Olympic Games. Yli-Hannuksela did not place at the 2007 European Championships, but is well known to peak at the major World-level events.

Winning World medals the last two years at this division is Mark Madsen of Denmark, who won the World silver medal in 2005 and the World bronze medal in 2006. Madsen was eighth at this year's European Championships, but like Yli-Hannuksela, is expected to be among the top challengers again at the World meet.

Manuchiar Krirkvelia of Georgia was a World bronze medalist last year, and won a World gold medal down at 66 kg in 2003. Krirkvelia was the 2007 European champion, and with his extensive experience is somebody who has to be considered a gold-medal challenger.

The 2005 World champion at this division was Varteres Samourgashev of Russia, who also boasts another World title in 2002, as well as an Olympic gold medal in 2000. Samourgashev did not place in the medal rounds last year at the World Championships in China. Russia lists a different athlete as its entry this year in Baku, Mihkail Ivanov, who was a bronze medalist at the 2007 European Championships. Whoever Russia enters will be expected to challenge for a medal this year.

Both athletes who placed fifth last year, Konstantin Schneider of Germany and T.C. Dantzler of the United States, will also be expected to battle for a medal match again. Schneider was a 2003 World silver medalist and 2005 World bronze medalist. Dantzler has never won a World medal, but has competed in the event a number of times. His throwing style and experience makes Dantzler a dangerous draw for any wrestler in Baku.

Daniar Kobonov of Krygyzstan was the 2007 Asian Championships gold medalist, and won a bronze medal at the 2006 Asian Games. Kobonov was ninth at last year's World Championships and won another Asian gold medal back in 2005.

Other placewinners at the World Championships last year were Ilya Shafran of Israel, Neven Zugaj of Croatia and Davod Abedinzadeh of Iran.

2004 Olympic champion Alexander Dokturishvili of Uzbekistan did not earn a medal at either the 2005 or 2006 World Championships. His most recent competition was the 2006 Asian Games, where he was fifth. His performance at the Athens Olympics was clearly his career highlight, and he must be considered a challenger if he enters in Baku this year.

Reto Bucher of Switzerland won a silver medal at the European Championships this year. His best finish at the Senior level was his fourth place effort at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He was also fifth at the 2005 World Championships.

The 2007 Junior World champion was Arsen Julfalakyan of Armenia, who was also fifth at the 2007 European Championshps on the Senior level. A European bronze medalist this year was Valdemaras Venckatitis of Lithuania.

Oleg Mikhalovitch of Belarus won a European silver medal in 2005, but placed out of the medal rounds at last year's World championships. Host Azerbaijan has a top challenger at this division, Ilgar Abdulov, who won the Golden Grand Prix in 2006 and has competed at the last two World Championships.

Turkey has a number of strong options at this division. Mahmut Altay was represented Turkey at the World Championships four times, but has yet to win a medal. Seref Tuefenk has won two World University gold medals and competed at the 2004 Olympic Games down at 66 kg.

Odelis Herrero of Cuba won both the Pan American Games and the Pan American Championships at this weight class in 2007. He has been to three World Championships on the Senior level, but seeks his first World medal.

Among the other contenders are Mohammed Babulfath of Sweden, Yavor Yankiev of Bulgaria, Dmitry Pyshkov of Ukraine and Asset Adilov of Kazakhstan.

This weight class has a ton of talented and experienced athletes, all capable of winning medals. Returning champion Volodym Shatskym of Ukraine does not have a strong track record prior to last season, which makes this a division which is up for grabs.


2006 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Volodym Shatskym (Ukraine); Silver - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); Bronze - Manuchar Krirkvelia (Georgia); Bronze - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - T.C. Dantzler (United States); 5th - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 7th - Ilya Shafran (Israel); 8th - Neven Zugaj (Croatia); 9th - Daniar Kobonov (Krygyzstan); 10th - Davod Abedinzadeh (Iran)

2005 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Varteres Samurgachev (Russia); Silver - Mark Madsen (Denmark); Bronze - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); Bronze - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 5th - Reto Bucher (Switzerland); 5th - Mohammad Babulfath (Sweden); 7th - Aleksandr Dokturishvili (Uzbekistan); 8th - Ilgar Abdulov (Azerbaijan); 9th - Mahmut Altaly (Turkey); 10th - Manuchar Kvirkvelia (Georgia)

2004 Olympic Games results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Alexandr Dokturishvili (Uzbekistan); Silver - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); Bronze - Varteres Samourachev (Russia); 4th - Reto Bucher (Switzerland); 5th - Danil Khalimov (Kazakhstan); 6th -Filiberto Azcuy (Cuba); 7th - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 8th - Tamas Berzicza (Hungary); 9th - Alberto Jose Recuero (Spain); 10th - Duk Hoon Choi (Korea)

2003 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Alexei Glushkov (Russia) dec. Konstantin Schneider (Germany), 3-0; Bronze - Jin Soo Kim (Korea) dec. Danil Khalimov (Kazakhstan), 3-0 ot; 5th - Volokymyr Shats'kykh (Ukraine); 6th - Aliaksandr Kikiniou (Belarus); 7th - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); 8th - Yakov Menasherov (Israel); 9th - Viuga Aslanov (Azerbaijan); 10th - Katsuhiko Nagata (Japan)

2002 World Championships results
74 kg/163 lbs. - Gold - Varteres Samourgashev (Russia) dec. Badri Khasaia (Georgia), 3-0; Bronze - Filiberto Ascuy (Cuba) dec. Volodymir Shatskikh (Ukraine), 5-1; 5th - Tamas Berzicza (Hungary); 6th - Michal Jaworski (Poland); 7th - Konstantin Schneider (Germany); 8th - Aleksandr Kikiniov (Belarus); 9th - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); 10th - Dzhakhombir Turdiev (Uzbekistan)

2001 World Championships results
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold - Filiberto Azcuy (Cuba) dec. Alexei Gloushkov (Russia), 4-0; Bronze - Rustem Adzhy (Ukraine) pin Jimmy Samuelson (Sweden), 1:28; 5th - Moises Sanchez (Spain); 6th - Parviz Zaidvand (Iran); 7th - Song Sang Pil (Korea); 8th - Maxim Schwindt (Germany); 9th - Ondrej Jaros (Czech Republic); 10th - Mahmut Altay (Turkey)

2001 World Championships results
76 kg/167.5 - Gold - Ara Abrahamjian (Sweden) pin Alexei Michine (Russia), 5:04; Bronze - Kim Jin Soo (Korea) dec. Sergiy Solodkyy (Ukraine), 3-0; 5th - Tamas Berzicza (Hungary); 6th - Marko Yli-Hannuksela (Finland); 7th - Bakhtiyar Baiseitov (Kazakhstan); 8th - Odelis Herrero (Cuba); 9th - Artur Michalkiewicz (Poland); 10th - Dimitris Avramis (Greece)
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