Tynybekova Recaps Her Inspiring Journey to Kyrgyz Sports History

By Eric Olanowski

OSLO, Norway (November 18) --- Aisululu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) successfully defended her 62kg world title at the '21 World Championships in Oslo, four short weeks after becoming the first Kyrgyz woman to win an Olympic medal.


Shortly after relying on her defense to stifle 2019 world U23 silver medalist Kayla MIRACLE (USA), 7-0, in the 62kg final, the now-two-time world champion sat down with United World Wrestling to recap her incredible journey to becoming one of the sports most recognizable figures.

In Oslo, Tynybekova did not have to contend with nemesis Yukako KAWAI (JPN), who beat her in the final at the Tokyo Olympics, and, like all of Japan's medalists, did not make the trip to Oslo.

But that's not to say that Tynybekova had it much easier. In the first round, she fell behind 4-0 against two-time world cadet champion Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) before rallying to a 6-4 win. She also had a close call in the quarterfinals.

"Today's final match was easier than any other match during this championships," Tynybekova said. "On Day One, all the three matches were really tough, I can say I could barely win them in the last seconds. "I wrestled the American girl at the international tournament in Italy and I know the way she wrestles. We figured out her technique together with the coach and I just followed everything he told me."

In the end, winning is all that counts for the woman who became the first wrestling world champion in her country's history, male or female. She was also one of two wrestlers who became Kyrgyzstan's first-ever female Olympic medalists in any sport at the Tokyo Games.

"As soon as I stepped out of the mat, my coach praised me," Tynybekova said. "It's most important for me to make my coach glad. I think all the people from Kyrgyzstan are glad as well. Talking about being a two-time world champion, I can say that I proved it to myself that I could make it. Of course, it makes me happy. Especially after losing at the Olympics, I could prepare well and win. It means a lot to me."


What's the driving force behind Vlasov's attempt to win a third Olympic title?

By Eric Olanowski

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 9) -- Roman VLASOV (RWF) was denied a chance to go for a third Olympic gold earlier this year, but made sure he would not miss out on his shot at winning a third world title.

Vlasov chalked up a meticulous and hard-fought 2-1 victory over ‘20 European champion Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) to take the 77kg at October’s World Championships in Oslo.

"I was super tired, I couldn't even celebrate as I usually do," Vlasov said. "I left all my power and energy on the mat."

Prior to the Tokyo snub, Vlasov considered ending his career. But the desire to achieve his dream of matching the legendary Alexander KARELIN (RWF) with three Olympic golds inspired him to reset his sights for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Like his hero and son’s god father, Karelin, Vlasov is a native of Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia and was mentored by the great coach Viktor KUZNETSOV.

Oslo would be the first stop on the long road to Paris, as it would provide confirmation that he could live up to his own expectations. A world champion in 2011 and 2015, he finished out of the medals in 2017 and 2019.

"The last time I won the World Championships was in 2015, before in 2011. It’s been a long time," Vlasov said. "I missed these emotions. To be the best in the world is the thing I’ve been dreaming about. It’s the thing I think about when I wake up in the morning before going to training."

After barreling through the rounds, winning each of his four matches by at least seven points, Vlasov found a formidable foe in Suleymanov, this year's European bronze medalist and the ‘19 U23 world silver medalist.

Vlasov, a four-time European champion who turned 31 in Oslo, had the first chance in par terre, but could only get a 1-point stepout after walking the airborne Suleymanov over the edge.

But Suleymanov had no answer when the roles were reversed in the second period, and Vlasov clinched the win when he deftly evaded a stepout attempt in the final 20 seconds.

"The final match did not go as planned," Vlasov said. "I had to wrestle super hard to keep that one point scored. Patience brought the gold."

Patience and appreciation of each victory along the way are what will look to get him to the Paris Games, a lesson he learned from the Tokyo debacle.

"The last Olympic cycle I made the mistake of counting down the days to the Olympics," Vlasov said. "This time I just enjoy every title. Today I am the happiest man on Earth, tomorrow we’ll be the new day, the new qualification for the new world championships. "The Olympics are the dream of every athlete. I’ve been there twice, and I want to become a three-time Olympic champion. But it’s better not to go ahead of time."