Ravi, Punia, Oborududu headline this week’s Commonwealth Games

By Eric Olanowski

BIRMINGHAM, England (August 1) --- Some of wrestling’s biggest freestyle and women’s wrestling stars will be headed to Birmingham, England this week, as the 21st edition of wrestling at the Commonwealth Games gets underway August 5-6.

The stacked entry list includes 14 returning medalists – five of which are looking for back-to-back Commonwealth Games golds. But the list is headlined by superstars Kumar RAVI (IND) Bajrang PUNIA (IND) and Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR).

Oborududu and Ravi won silver medals at the Tokyo Olympic Games, while Punia claimed bronze.

Ravi will be making his first appearance at the prestigious Commonwealth Games, while Oborududu and Bajrang will be looking to reach the top of the podium for a second consecutive time.

On the freestyle side of the competition, outside of Ravi and Bajrang, the list of seven returning medalists is headlined by 2018 CWG champ Muhammad INAM (PAK) who’ll compete at 86kg.

Lightweight star Ravi will wrestle at the Olympic weight of 57kg in England after he’s jumped between 57kg and 61kg at the Yasar Dogu, Dan Kolov and Asian Championships. This season, the 25-year-old product from the wrestling powerhouse state of Haryana has a 12-1 record. He’s won golds at the Yasar Dogu Ranking Series event and Asian championship and settled for Dan Kolov silver after falling to Zelimkhan ABAKAROV (ALB), 7-1, in the gold-medal match.

His biggest competition in England will be Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR). The 30-year-old has represented Nigeria at the CWG at every Games since 2010 and has finished with two silvers and a bronze, with the latter coming in 2018.

At 65kg, Bajrang walks into Birmingham as the unquestionable favorite to win the gold. India’s first-ever three-time world medalist will likely have to get past the 12-man bracket’s lone returning CWG medalist in Amas Daniel (NGR). It’ll be Daniel’s fourth straight appearance wrestling at the CWG, where he’s finished with two bronze medals and had a fourth-place finish in 2010.

Muhammad Inam (PAK) is the third returning freestyle champion in action. His biggest competitor at 86kg will be one of the world’s fastest rising stars in Deepak PUNIA (IND)

Punia announced his presence on the senior circuit at the 2019 World Championships, where he stormed past the field to reach the finals and punch India ticket to the Olympic Games. In Tokyo, Punia led Myles AMINE (SMR) in the bronze-medal match but surrendered a last-second takedown and settled for fifth place in Tokyo.

Another guy who could stir up the pot at 86kg is Syerus Eslami (ENG). He’ll be looking to improve on his bronze-medal in front of a friendly English crowd.

In women’s wrestling, there will be stars galore.

Vinesh VINESH (IND), Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) and Oborududu are the trio of returning champs eying a shot at adding their name to the short list of Commonwealth Games two-timers.

Vinesh will return to the mat for the second time since her emotional toll-taking Tokyo Olympic exit which resulted in a ninth-place finish. After taking four months off, she returned to action at the Yasar Dogu Ranking Series event and finished in fifth place. Her pair of losses came at the hands of Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) and Ekaterina ISAKOVA (RWF).

Vinesh’s biggest threat will likely be Canada’s Samantha STEWART (CAN). If the two meet, it’ll be a rematch from the 2021 Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event semifinals where the Indian picked up the fall via cradle 42 seconds into the first period.

Tokyo fifth-place finisher Joseph ESSOMBE TIAKO (CMR) is on a quest to become Cameroon's first-ever Commonwealth Games champion. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 57kg, there are three tier one wrestlers who should vie for the gold medal. Most people expect to see returning champion Adekuoroye or 2021 world silver  Anshu Anshu (IND) in the finals, but Joseph ESSOMBE TIAKO (CMR) is a wrestler who could stop the highly anticipated bout between the Nigerian and Indian.

Coming into Birmingham, Cameroon is 0-3 in gold-medal matches. Essombe Tiako is looking to rewrite the history books as she moves up to 57kg from her Tokyo Olympic fifth-place weight of 53kg.

There’s no secret that Oborududu headlines the 68kg women’s field. The Olympic runner-up and returning CWG champion will likely have to stop Divya KAKRAN (IND) if she wants to join Adekuoroye and Adeniyi OLUWAFUNMILAYO (NGR) as Nigeria’s only two-time CWG women’s wrestling winners.

Follow United World Wrestling on all social media channels for live updates from the Commonwealth Games.

Bajrang PUNIA (IND) is one of three Tokyo Olympic medalists that'll be in action in Birmingham. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Freestyle returning medalist::
57kg - Ebikewenimo Welson (NGR) – bronze

65kg - Bajrang Bajrang (IND) – gold
65kg - Amas Daniel (NGR) – bronze
74kg - Curtis Dodge (WAL) - bronze
74kg - Charlie Bowling (ENG) -– bronze
86kg - Muhammad Inam (PAK) – gold
86kg - Syerus Eslami (ENG) – bronze

Women’s wrestling returning medalist:
50kg Miesinnei Mercy Genesis (NGR) – bronze
53kg - Vinesh Vinesh (IND) – gold
57kg - Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye (NGR) – gold
62kg - Sakshi Malik (IND) - bronze
68kg - Blessing Oborududu (NGR) – gold
68kg - Divya Kakran (IND) – bronze
76kg - Georgina Nelthorpe (ENG) – bronze

Ebikewenimo Welson (NGR)
Romio Ricardo Goliath (NAM)
Ravi Kumar (IND)
Darthe Capellan (CAN)
Justin Holland (AUS)
Suraj Singh (NZL)
Ali Asad (PAK)
Harvey Ridings (ENG)
Jakobo Tanki Tau (RSA)
Gary Giordmaina (MLT)

Amas Daniel (NGR)
Jason Shannon Afrikaner (NAM)
Bajrang Bajrang (IND)
Lowe Bingham (NRU)
Jean Guyliane Joris Bandou (MRI)
Lachlan Mcneil (CAN)
Mostafa Rezaeifar (AUS)
Brahm Richards (NZL)
George Ramm (ENG)
Inayat Ullah (PAK)
Adam Vell12a (MLT)

Ogbonna Emmanuel John (NGR)
Mathayo Matonya Mahabila (KEN)
Mohamed Sesay (SLE)
Jasmit Singh Phulka (CAN)
Hong Yeow Lou (SGP)
Cole Hawkins (NZL)
Thorn Demeritte (BAH)
Charlie Bowling (ENG)
Muhammad Sharif Tahir (PAK)
Arno Van Zijl (RSA)
Curtis Dodge (WAL)
Shanith Yoda Pedige (SRI)
Jacob Ntuyo (UGA)
Naveen Naveen (IND)
John Vake (TGA)

Ekerekeme Agiomor (NGR)
Lesyan Cousin Otomuro (JAM)
Abdur Roshid Hawladar (BAN)
Sheku Kassegbama (SLE)
Deepak Punia (IND)
Jean Frederic Marianne (MRI)
Alexander Moore (CAN)
Weng Luen Gary Chow (SGP)
Jayden Lawrence (AUS)
Taitaifono Tamati (SAM)
Matthew Oxenham (NZL)
Syerus Eslami (ENG)
Muhammad Inam (PAK)
Edward Lessing (RSA)
Suresh Warnakulasuriya Fernando (SRI)

Nishan Randhawa (CAN)
Thomas Barns (AUS)
Maulalo Willie Alofipo (SAM)
Rashji Mackey (BAH)
Tayab Raza Awan (PAK)
Sione Sika (TGA)
Nicolaas De Lange (RSA)
Deepak Deepak (IND)

Aaron Johnson (JAM)
Liton Biswas (BAN)
Mohamed Bundu (SLE)
Kensley Anthony Marie (MRI)
Mohit Mohit (IND)
Amarveer Dhesi (CAN)
Mandhir Kooner (ENG)
Zaman Anwar (PAK)
Aaron Lehauli (TGA)

Odunayo Adekuoroye (NGR) is looking to become a three-time Commonwealth Games champion. She'll compete at 57kg. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Women’s Wrestling

Rebecca Ndolo Muambo (CMR)
Madison Parks (CAN)
Miesinnei Mercy Genesis (NGR)
Shriyanthika Niroshani Sinhala Pedige (SRI)
Pooja Gehlot (IND)

Mercy Bolafunoluwa Adekuoroye (NGR)
Vinesh Vinesh (IND)
Samantha Stewart (CAN)
Chamodya Keshani Maduravalage Don (SRI)

Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye (NGR)
Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako (CMR)
Zainab Barrie (SLE)
Anshu Anshu (IND)
Veronica Ayo (UGA)
Sophia Omutichio Ayieta (KEN)
Hannah Taylor (CAN)
Danielle Sue Ching Lim (SGP)
Irene Symeonidis (AUS)
Shannon Harry (WAL)
Nethmi Poruthotage (SRI)

Esther Omolayo Kolawole (NGR)
Berthe Emilienne Etane Ngolle (CMR)
Dola Khatun (BAN)
Ana Godinez Gonzalez (CAN)
Kelsey Barnes (ENG)
Sachini Weraduwage (SRI)
Sakshi Malik (IND)

Blessing Oborududu (NGR)
Blandine Nyeh Ngiri (CMR)
Tithy Roy (BAN)
Divya Kakran (IND)
Amylee Sephora Aza (MRI)
Linda Morais (CAN)
Sarah Clossick (ENG)
Chloe Spiteri (ENG)
Tiger Lily Cocker Lemalie (TGA)

Hannah Amuchechi Rueben (NGR)
Madusu Koroma (SLE)
Marie Celeste Andrea Vilbrun (MRI)
Justina Di Stasio (CAN)
Naomi De Bruine (AUS)
Michelle Montague (NZL)
Georgina Nelthorpe (ENG)
Pooja Pooja (IND)


India, Canada share 5 golds as Commonwealth Games comes to close

By Vinay Siwach

COVENTRY, England (August 6) -- As the Commonwealth Games came to a close, two of the most successful countries in the history of the Games -- Canada and India -- established their supremacy, sharing five of the six gold medals on offer on Saturday.

India won the freestyle golds at 57kg and 74kg along with the 53kg gold in women's wrestling. Canada had two champions on Saturday with Justina DI STASIO (CAN) winning the 76kg gold while Nishant RANDHAWA (CAN) winning the 97kg gold.

Miesinnei GENESIS (NGR) was the other champion on Saturday as she claimed the third women's wrestling gold for Nigeria by winning the 50kg weight category.

But two wrestlers who stood out at the Coventry Arena were Olympic silver medalist Ravi KUMAR (IND) and world bronze medalist Vinesh PHOGAT (IND).

Kumar finished all three of his bouts well before the six minutes and showed the gulf in class in 57kg in Birmingham.

Wrestling Nigeria’s multiple-Commonwealth medalist Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR) in the final, Kumar used a leg lace to lead 8-0 before getting a takedown in the second period to finish the bout 10-0.

This was Kumar’s first medal at the Commonwealth Games.

“It’s always special to win the medal at Games and this was also special,” Kumar said. “Tokyo silver was special and so is this medal.”

Kumar, hoping to win a World Championships medal in Belgrade, has been on an incredible run, winning three golds and losing only one bout since Tokyo.

He did give up four points in the semifinal against Asad ALI (PAK) but said that it was more about getting stuck in a move.

"It's wrestling and sometimes we get stuck in a move," he said. "I can't say I was off guard or wasn't moving well. Just a move I got stuck in and he managed to score."

NAVEEN (IND)NAVEEN (IND), red, defeated Muhammad TAHIR (PAK) 9-0 in the 74kg final. (Photo: UWW / Helena Curtis)

NAVEEN (IND) added another gold to India’s account as he dominated the 74kg field and defeated Muhammad TAHIR (PAK) 9-0 in the gold bout.

Tahir was put on passivity as well when Naveen continued his attacks. Four takedowns gave him the eight other points.

A bronze medalist at the Asian Championships, Naveen will try to make the Indian team at 74kg for the World Championships.

Nishan RANDHAWA (CAN)Nishan RANDHAWA (CAN) became the Commonwealth Games champion at 97kg. (Photo: UWW / Helena Curtis)

At 97kg, Nishan RANDHAWA (CAN) defeated two U20 World bronze medalists en route to winning the gold medal with some tough wins.

In the quarterfinal, he wrestled Deepak NEHRA (IND) and almost suffered a loss as Nehra was leading 6-6 on criteria with nine seconds remaining. But Randhawa scored a stepout and got the all-important point to win 7-6 and reach the semifinals. He managed to beat Tayab RAZA (PAK) 7-0 to make it to the final.

"Nehra was defending very well and it was a back-and-forth match," Randhawa said. "But I knew I have enough time to score a takedown. He went to the zone and I capitalized with the stepout."

He wrestled another U20 world bronze medalist in the final in Nicolas DE LANGE (RSA) and made it look easy with a 9-3 win for the gold.

"I have wrestled him before at the U20 Worlds and I know his style," he said. "It's great to win the gold here."

Randhawa, a U20 bronze medalist himself, will now be hoping to medal at the senior World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia.

"I train in Iowa and I believe in my potential," he said. "As you train with the best in the world, you keep improving and hopefully I will be able to beat the wrestlers at 97kg. If not now, then when?"

Vinesh PHOGAT (IND)Vinesh PHOGAT (IND) claimed her third consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Helena Curtis)

Vinesh wins third gold

Her cousin sister Geeta PHOGAT (IND) may be the first Indian woman to win the Commonwealth gold but Vinesh PHOGAT (IND) became the first woman from the country to win it three times.

In a confidence-boosting gold win in Birmingham, Phogat defeated world bronze medalist Samantha STEWART (CAN) and African champion Mercy ADEKUOROYE (NGR) in Round 1 and Round 2 to all but confirm the gold in the morning session.

She pinned Stewart and almost pinned Adekuoroye but the Nigerian was in danger position for close to two minutes and lost 6-0.

"It's a good confidence-boosting win for me," Phogat said. "Canada and Nigeria do pose a challenge in this tournament but thankfully I managed to win here."

Miesinnei GENESIS (NGR)Miesinnei GENESIS (NGR) celebrates after winning the 50kg gold medal in Birmingham. (Photo: UWW / Helena Curtis)

At 50kg, Madison PARKS (CAN) and Miesinnei GENESIS (NGR) were involved in a close battle in the gold medal bout with Parks scoring a stepout when she was put on the activity clock. But Genesis took a 1-1 criteria lead and as the match entered the final minute, it looked like Genesis will hang on for a 1-1 win but hit a lateral drop and secured the fall to win Nigeria's third gold medal in women's wrestling.

As she was trailing, Parks went for a single leg shot but got countered for the pin. She had made a stunning comeback in the semifinals against Pooja GEHLOT (IND). After giving up a six-point lead, Parks slowly worked her way with takedowns and made it 6-4. She scored a takedown with nine seconds remaining on the clock. Gehlot, hoping to keep her one-point lead, moved away but Parks sprung to action and hit a huge underhook for four to win 9-6.

Genesis was the third gold medalist for Nigeria after Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR) and Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR) won the gold at 57kg and 68kg respectively.

Justina DI STASIO (CAN)Justina DI STASIO (CAN) hit a four against Hannah RUEBEN (NGR) in the 76kg final. (Photo: UWW / Helena Curtis)

The final gold of the night went to former world champion Justina DI STASIO (CAN) who defeated Hannah RUEBEN (NGR), 4-2, in the final to capture her first Commonwealth Games gold.

Her's was the only big move of the final as she hit a four-pointer against Rueben who managed to score only two points.

Earlier in May, Di Stasio made a comeback to the sport after two years and managed to win a bronze medal. But with ambitions of winning the World Championships gold as she did in 2018, Di Stasio got a big shot in the arm with the gold in Birmingham.



GOLD: Ravi KUMAR (IND) df. Ebikewenimo WELSON (NGR), 10-0

BRONZE: Asad ALI (PAK) df. Suraj SINGH (NZL), 11-0 
BRONZE: Darthe CAPELLAN (CAN) df. Jakobo TAU (RSA), 12-2 

GOLD: NAVEEN (IND) df. Muhammad TAHIR (PAK), 9-0

BRONZE: Jasmit PHULKA (CAN) df. Cole HAWKINS (NZL), 10-0
BRONZE: Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) df. Charlie BOWLING (ENG), 10-0

GOLD: Nishan RANDHAWA (CAN) df. Nicolaas DE LANGE (RSA), 9-3

BRONZE: Thomas BARNS (AUS) df. Maulalo ALOFIPO (SAM), 12-0
BRONZE: Deepak NEHRA (IND) df. Tayab RAZA (PAK), 10-2

Women’s Wrestling

GOLD: Miesinnei GENESIS (NGR) df. Madison PARKS (CAN), via fall

BRONZE: Pooja GEHLOT (IND) df. Christelle LETCHIDJIO (SCO), 12-2


Key bout: Vinesh PHOGAT (IND) df. Samantha STEWART (CAN), via fall

GOLD: Justina DI STASIO (CAN) df. Hannah RUEBEN (NGR), 4-2

BRONZE: Pooja SIHAG (IND) df. Naomi DE BRUINE (AUS), 10-0
BRONZE: Georgina NELTHORPE (ENG) df. Madusu KOROMA (SLE), via fall