#WrestleTokyo: Aleksanyan, Evloev Remain on Collison Course

By Vinay Siwach

CHIBA, Japan (August 2) --- If there was a manual about how to wrestle at Olympic Games, performances of Musa EVLOEV (ROC) and Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) on Monday would be the top ones in it.

On the second day of wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics, the two reached the semifinals at 97kg Greco-Roman weight classes as expect on either side of the bracket. While world champion Evloev will wrestle Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL) in the semifinal, Saravi faces defending Olympic champion Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM). It will be a rematch of the 2019 Worlds quarterfinal which the Armenian won 4-3.

The morning session at the Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba was highlighted with stunning throws, lifts and some quick techniques as Greco-Roman 77kg and 97kg and women's wrestling 68kg weight classes got their semifinalists.

Evloev was in different as he wrestled at will, controlling most of the action even if he did not close out the bouts with technical superiority.

He began the day with a 3-1 win over Giorgi MELIA (GEO) and then Alex SZOKE (HUN) was dumped 6-2 in the quarterfinals. His opponent in the semifinal, Saravi was more dominant as he began with a 9-0 technical superiority win over Adem BOUDJEMLINE (ALG) before securing a 6-0 win over Kiril MILOV (BUL).

Artur ALEKSANYANArtur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) reached the semifinal at 97kg. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Aleksanyan had some hiccups on the way but he was clinical in the 4-1 opening round win over Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ). His strategy to begin slow against Arvi SAVOLAINEN (FIN) played out perfectly and he won 5-1. He decided to give up the passivity point in the first half but got one in the second. He used two guts from par terre for the win.

Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL) reached the semifinal after a hard-fought win over Tracy HANCOCK (USA). Hancokc will rue the challenge that his corner throw looking at the final scoreline of 4-3.

Mohammadali GERAEIMohammadali GERAEI (IRI) won his quarterfinal. (Photo: UWW / Tony Rotundo)

At 77kg, world champion Tamas LORINCZ (HUN) had a quite morning as he won his first bout via forfeit while the second was an easy 3-1 win over Shohei YABIKU (JPN). But the Hungarian will need to be at the top of his game as he faces World bronze medalist Mohammadali GERAEI (IRI) in the semifinal.

Geraei was training 5-1 against Bozo STARCEVIC (CRO) but he kept the pressure and forced a pushout which was scored fleeing by the referees giving two points to Geraei. With less than 25 seconds left, Geraei went for his trademark jump over the head move and landed Starcevic in exposure position to get two points. At 5-5, he held the criteria for the last point scored.

On the other side of the bracket, young star Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) is looking to become his country's only third Greco-Roman Olympic finalist as he reached the semifinal against Karapet CHALYAN (ARM).

Akzhol MAKHMUDOVAkzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) will wrestle in the 77kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Makhmudov made a mess of Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) in the quarterfinal, launching him for a big throw and two exposure to win 9-1. He won his first bout 11-0.

Chalyan upset 2018 world champion Aleksandr CHEKHIRKIN (ROC) 2-1 after he humbled Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) 5-0 in the first bout.

In the women's section, world champion Taymra MENSAH STOCK (USA) in on her way to the final at 68kg as he made her way through a minefield to reach the semifinal against 2018 world champion Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR).

Mensah Stock began her day with a 10-0 shutout of defending Olympic champion Sara DOSHO (JPN). In a rematch of the 2019 World Championships quarterfinal which the American won, she used her double-leg takedowns to leg lace to great affect. She then avenged her Matteo Pellicone final loss to Feng ZHOU (CHN) with another 10-0 win.

MENSAH STOCKTaymra MENSAH STOCK (USA) reached the semifinal at 68kg. (Photo: UWW / Tony Rotundo)

Cherkasova has also not given up a single point in her two bouts, beating Agnieszka WIESZCZEK KORDUS (POL) 11-0 and a victory via fall over Anna SCHELL (GER).

Mongolia had a semifinalist as Battsetseg SORONZONBOLD (MGL) set up a clash against Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR). The two had tough quarterfinals but hung in there to come out as winners.

Soronzonbold handed Khanum VELIEVA (ROC) a 8-5 defeat in the quarterfinal but it was her opening round bout against Koumba LARROQUE (FRA) where she had to come up with a big four in the final moments and win via fall. The French wrestler was leading 3-0 at that time.

Battsetseg SORONZONBOLD (MGL)Battsetseg SORONZONBOLD (MGL) will wrestle in the 68kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Oborududu also put on a show as she first handed Elis MANOLOVA (AZE) a 13-2 thrashing before carving a tough 3-2 win over Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ) in the semifinals.

Wrestling will return for the evening session at 1815 hours local time here in Japan.


Snyder Takes Olympic Loss to Sadulaev in Stride

By Ken Marantz

CHIBA, Japan (August 7)---The competitor in Kyle SNYDER (USA) hated the defeat. The wrestler in him loved the battle.

Snyder took his loss to rival Abdurashid SADULAEV (ROC) in the final of the freestyle 97kg class on Saturday night at the Tokyo Olympics in stride, already looking forward to the next chance for the two titans to clash.

"It is still exciting," Snyder said. "I love competition, I love wrestling, and I'm thankful to be able to compete." About facing Sadulaev again, he said, "I'd love it."

In the third meeting between the two since they both won gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics in different weight classes, Sadulaev beat the American for the second time with a 6-3 victory at Makuhari Messe Hall A to add a second Olympic gold to his four world titles.

Sadulaev, who had an activity point and a stepout in the first period, built up a 6-0 lead with a pair of tilts in countering Snyder's single-leg takedown attempts. On the first one, the wrestler known as The Russian Tank at one point lifted a prone Snyder completely off the mat, but not enough for a throw and instead settled for angling him over.

"There are definitely some positions that I have got to get better in," Snyder said. "That is what I'm thinking about. I have got to finish those attacks, so that is what I'm going to do. We had an idea of what it would be like."

Snyder, a two-time world champion, never gave up the fight, and came back to score a takedown and stepout in the final minute before Sadulaev ran out the clock.

"I'm a competitor so I hate to lose," Snyder said. "It's the spirit of Jesus that is strong in me. I'm not that strong as a guy, but Jesus is really strong and his spirit keeps me moving forward."

In the series dubbed "Snyderlaev" that drew worldwide attention, Snyder came out on top in their first clash in the final at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, Sadulaev's first after moving up to 97kg. Sadulaev had won the gold in Rio at 86kg, while Snyder had triumphed at 97kg.

Sadulaev gained his revenge at "Snyderlaev II" at the World Championships the next year in Budapest. He has not tasted defeat on the mat since that loss in Paris.

While it is uncertain what Sadulaev's plans are at the moment, Snyder would welcome a "Snyderlaev IV" at this year's World Championships in Oslo in October. Anyway, he intends to be there.

"Lord willing, I will be at the world championships," he said.

Like all American wrestlers, Snyder needs to constantly earn his spot on the national team to major tournaments. Having set the record as the youngest-ever US champion at both the worlds and Olympics, he knows there are always new faces coming along ready to knock him off.

"Guys are getting better and better," he said of prospects for U.S. wrestling. "Everybody is doing the right stuff. We have great coaches, support staff and training environments.

"I'm really happy for all my teammates who did a great job here, and all the coaches because they work so hard. I think we're going to dominate and keep getting better."

With Snyder's silver, the United States finished the Olympic wrestling tournament with nine medals overall, the most of any nation, including three golds.