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Wrestling Roundup: Russia men still dominates, Japan women repeats glory
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21:58, August 23, 2008

Russia continued its dominance in wrestling, one of world's oldest sports, at the Beijing Olympics, while Japanese female wrestlers made the same achievements as they did in Athens.

In particular, Russia topped the medal tally with six golds, three silvers and two bronzes, followed by Japan and Georgia with two golds. China, Uzbekistan, the United States, Canada, France, Turkey, Cuba and Italy got one each.



RUSSIAN MEN'S DOMINANCE

Before the Olympics, people expected to see Russia continue their ruling in men's freestyle wrestling, after it won six of seven titles in World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. At the Athens Games, Russia ranked first with 5-2-3, all golds from men's wrestling.

In all, Russia won six of eighteen wrestling golds at the Beijing Games, three in Greco-Roman and three in freestyle. They failed to move further in men's freestyle, while the Greco-Roman won one more than they had four years ago.

Nazyr Mankiev opened the gate of victory as he won men's Greco-Roman 55kg title, which was also the first gold of wrestling events at the Beijing Olympics. Islam-Beka Albiev of 60kg and Aslanbek Khushtov of 96kg separately triumphed in their categories, which let Russia win golds totally different from they won in Athens. Russia won Greco-Roman golds in 84kg and 120kg divisions.

Athens winner in freestyle 55kg Mavlet Batirov moved up to 60kg category in 2006 and easily won golds at Beijing. Buvaysa Saytiev retained his Olympic gold in 74kg. Rising star Shirvani Muradov replaced Athens champion Khadjimourat Gatadsalov to take the 96kg.

But these three gold won't cover the danger. Russian freestyle wrestlers are facing more challenges from around as they lost to win in 55kg, 84kg and 120kg, which were supposed to be as in their pockets because Russians got titles in these categories in the 2007 worlds.



JAPAN'S "FANTASTIC QUADRUPLE"

Saori Yoshida took gold in women's 55kg while Kaori Icho won 63kg. Chiharu Icho was runner-up in 48kg while Kyoko Hamaguchi lost to Chinese wrestler in semifinal and only grabbed a bronze.

Just as what they got in Athens.

The Japan's "Fantastic Four" may have fought their last Olympics together.

Sisters Chiharu and Kaori say they are considering retiring from the mat which has brought them four Olympic medals, on top of eight world titles.

"I can't imagine myself training with wrestling shoes on again," 26-year-old Chiharu said.

"The result was silver but I have learnt from wrestling more than what is worth the gold medal." said Chiharu, also a three-time world champion.

"I have walked together with Chiharu. And, if she quits, I will no longer have a goal to chase. I think the Beijing Games was my last." said Kaori, two years younger than her sister.



CHINA'S HISTORICAL BREAKTHROUGH

Before the Beijing Games, THE Chinese male wrestlers' best results was Shen Zetian's three bronze medals from Barcelona 1992 Games to Sydney 2000 Games.

Records changed when Chang Yongxiang took silver in men's Greco-Roman 74kg, defeating world champion Yavor Yanakiev of Bulgaria in the first round, to surprise Shen Zetian, who now is the head-coach of Chian Greco-Roman wrestling team.

Chang said, "I was so upset not to win China a gold although this is a best result of the men wrestlers in the Olympics."

Wang Xu defeated Kyoko Hamaguchi in the semifinal of women's 72kg at Athens Games, when women's wrestling made its Olympic debut, and eventually won the gold at the age of 19. Four years later, 20-year-old Wang Jiao, who replaced Wang Xu just before the Beijing Games, defeated Hamaguchi again in semifinal and seized the title after beating Stanka Zlateva of BUlgaria in final. This gold was Chinese first and only gold in wrestling.

"It is my great honour to win this gold medal for China. This is such a surprising victory," said Wang Jiao.

Xu Li of 55kg also won China a silver after losing to strong Saori Yoshida.

"The gold and two silvers are quite out of our expectations," said Zhou Jinqiang, one senior official in Chinese Wrestling Federation. "We have strong female wrestlers, but still not good enough to compete the Japanese. Greco-Roman wrestlers improved fast while freestyle wrestlers need improvements."



SWEDISH WRESTLER'S BRONZE STRIPPED BY IOC

Ara Abrahamian of Sweden refused to take the men's Greco-Roman 84kg bronze as he thought his loss to Andrea Minguzzi of Italy in semifinal was under the control of referees of International Wrestling Federation (FILA).

Abrahamian, silver medallist in the Athens Games, was enraged after being judged losing points to Minguzzi. The Swedish even posed physical threats to the head referee after failed verbal appeals.

He continued showing his uncontrolled rage by refusing the bronze medal he won later and walking down from the podium a few seconds into the victory ceremony.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Disciplinary Commission announced on Aug. 16 that Abrahamian had been disqualified from the event.

Abrahamian and the Sweden NOC asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to investigate the controversial semifinal and CAS will hold a hearing on Friday.

Source: Xinhua

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1 China 49 19 29 96
2 USA 33 36 36 105
4 Russia 20 21 27 68
3 Great Britain 19 13 15 47
5 Germany 15 10 15 40
6 Australia 14 14 17 45
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