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Wrestling preview: Russian wrestlers to rule men's freestyle
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19:02, August 18, 2008

Russia's hope to repeat its dominance in the men's freestyle wrestling at the 2007 World Championships will go through the opening test on Tuesday when the men's freestyle bouts kick off at the Beijing Olympics.

World champion Besik Kuduknov, 22, moved to the front of the 55kg division. The 2005 junior world champion has been reaping steady progress, from his silver medal in the 2006 worlds to the title performance in last year's championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The Russian's rivals for the gold medal in Beijing include Dilshod Mansurov of Uzbekistan and Naranbaatar Bayarra of Mongolia.

Bayarra was last year's runner-up after claiming a bronze in the 2005 world championships, while 24-year-old Mansurov was twice world champion in 2003 and 2005, but slipped to fifth last year after a semi-final loss to Kudukhov.

Another hopeful is 2006 world champion Radoslav Velikov of Bulgaria who dropped to 13th in Baku after a second-round loss to Mansurov.

For the 60kg class, Mavlet Batirov makes Russia looks more strong in the men's freestyle. The 55kg title winner in Athens four years ago has moved up to 60kg category after 2005 world championships, finishing third at the 2006 worlds and taking the gold in Baku last year.

However, he is also open to challenge from Cuban Yandro Quintana who is bet to spare no efforts to defend his 2004 Olympic title although the Cuban won only one medal since 2004, a silver in the 2005 world championships.

Other strong contenders are world bronze medallist Bazar Bazarguruev of Kyrgyzstan, who sits on top of the bracket, and European champion Vasyl Fedoryshyn of Ukraine, the fourth placer at the Athens Games.

Source: Xinhua

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