#TBT: Sadulaev Makes Golden Debut at '12 Cadet Worlds
Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 08:12 By Vinay Siwach
CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (January 20) – Over the years, Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RWF) has become one of the biggest names in wrestling. A five-time world and two-time Olympic champion Sadulaev has captured every possible title on offer at the senior level.
But it all began a decade back in Baku, Azerbaijan when a young Sadulaev claimed his first gold at the 2012 Cadet World Championships. The then 16-year-old won his four matches -- two via fall and two via points. Incidentally, it was his international debut as well.
Wrestling in the 76kg weight class, Sadulaev scripted a remarkable comeback to beat Ruslan RUCHKO (UKR) by winning two periods in a best-of-three according to old rules. Despite losing the first and trailing in the second period, the Russian emerged victorious and with some ease.
Ruchko began with a big whip over in the first period and scored three points for the move in the first minute. Sadulaev managed a takedown for one point but failed to get any rolls as the period ended in the favor of the Ukrainian.
In the second period, Sadulaev was attempting a double-leg when Ruchko exposed him and scored three more points. Sadulaev got two points and while attempting a gut wrench, Ruchko held him to pin but Sadulaev survived. That gave two more points to Ruchko and a 5-2 lead. But Sadulaev finally completed a double leg and scored three points to level it 5-5. Just when it looked like the second period will end in a draw, Sadulaev scored a point via takedown with 12 seconds left to claim the second period.
While he tried his best, Ruchko could not match the pace and strength of Sadulaev in the final period and gave up a stepout. Sadulaev scored three more with a double-leg attack to lead 4-0. One more point was added for a lost challenge. A tiring Ruchko managed to score only a point as Sadulaev ran towards victory.
Sadulaev, in his trademark calmness, won his first cadet world title and announced himself on the international stage. Since then, he has moved up three weight classes and won one more cadet world title, five senior world titles and two Olympic gold medals.
The 26-year-old's first World Championships gold medal at the senior level came at the 2014 Worlds in Tashkent, Uzbekistan before he defended his 86kg title at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, USA. He won his first Olympics in Rio 2016.
At the 2017 World Championships, he suffered his first loss at the Worlds, losing 5-6 to Kyle SNYDER (USA) in the 97kg final. But he avenged his loss at the 2018 World Championships final in Budapest, Hungary, by pinning Snyder in the 97kg final.
In 2019, he won the gold again in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan before defeating Snyder again in the final of the Tokyo Games to claim his second Olympic gold medal. The two met again two months later at the Oslo World Championships and Sadulaev once again humbled Snyder to win his fifth world title, a rare occurrence for a wrestler to win the Olympic and Worlds gold in the same year.