Wrestling Day 3 Preview: War of the giants
2008-08-13 16:39:12 GMT 2008-08-14 00:39:12 (Beijing Time) BOCOG
(BEIJING, August 13) -- A rematch of a previous Olympic or championship final could be in the cards on day three of the Olympic Wrestling competition, which is chock-full of returning medalists as well as world and continental champions. Three gold medals will be handed out in Men's Greco-Roman Wrestling on Thursday, August 14, one each from the 84 kilogram, 96 kilogram and 120 kilogram categories, to conclude the Greco-Roman competition.
Defending champion Aleksey Mishin of Russia is by all means the most favored wrestler in this weight class. After his triumph in Athens, the 29-year-old has kept excellent form, taking the silver medal in the 2005 World Championship, bronze medal in the 2006 World Championship and a gold medal in the 2007 World Championship.
Sweden's Ara Abrahamian lost the final against Mishin four years ago. He will not only be looking to upstage Mishin, but hoping for his first gold medal in three Olympic appearances. The 33-year-old veteran's best performance in recent years was the bronze medal in the 2008 European Championship.
Another possible winner is Saman Tahmasebi of Iran who won the Asian Championship in 2007. The 23-year-old has been doing well in recent years, taking one bronze medal each from the 2006 and 2007 World Championships.
Other possible medalists include the 2006 World Championship silver medalist Nazmi Avluca of Turkey, 2007 World Championship runner-up Brad Vering of the United States and 2008 European Championship silver medalist Badri Khasaia of Georgia.
The qualification round will start at 9:30 a.m. (UTC/GMT +8), followed by a repechage round at 4:00 p.m. The bronze medal match will begin at 5:00 p.m., and the gold medal round will kick off 20 minutes later.
Athens silver medalist Ramaz Nozadze of Georgia has the best shot in this weight class. The 24-year-old has consistently finished in the top of this category, winning the 2007 European Championship and the 2007 World Championship.
Nozadze also took a silver medal in this year's European Championship. He was defeated in the semifinal by Russian wrestler Aslanbek Khushtov, who also crowed in the 2008 World Cup. If the 28-year-old can overcome Nozadze again, he could grab his best senior record yet.
Finally, nobody can leave defending champion Karam Gaber off the radar. The Egyptian giant has been dominating this weight class since becoming the African champion in 1997. Having finished silver in Athens after losing to Nozadze in the final, 29-year-old Gaber hopes to emerge triumphant against him in this Olympics.
Other medal candidates include Athens bronze medalist Mehmet Özal of Turkey, 2007 World Championship bronze medalist Ghasem Rezaei of Iran and 2007 World Championship silver medalist Mindaugas Ezerskis of Lithuania, who will make his third Olympic appearance.
The qualification round will start at 9:30 a.m. (UTC/GMT +8), followed by a repechage round at 4:00 p.m. The bronze medal match will begin at 5:55 p.m., and the gold medal round will kick off 20 minutes later.
Defending champion Khasan Baroev has stayed in top shape since his 2004 gold. The 25-year-old won the 2006 World Championship and the 2007 European Championship, and was runner-up in the 2007 World Championship and this year's European Championship.
The wrestler who defeated Baroev at the 2007 World Championship final was his long-time rival, 25-year old Mijail Lopez of Cuba. Lopez was knocked out by Baroev in the quarterfinals in Athens to place fifth. He then lost to Baroev again in the 2006 World Championship final. If they meet again in the final in Beijing, it could be the most exciting Greco-Roman Wrestling final in recent years.
Another wrestler to defeat defending gold medalist Baroev is Yuri Patrikeev of Armenia, who won this year's European Championship. The 28-year-old was also the bronze medalist in the 2007 World Championship, after being knocked out by Lopez in the round of 16.
Other possible medalists include 2007 World Championship bronze medalist Dremiel Byers of the United States, Athens sixth place Yannick Szczepaniak of France and 2008 junior world champion Riza Kayaalp of Turkey.
The qualification round will start at 9:30 a.m. (UTC/GMT +8), followed by a repechage round at 4:00 p.m. The bronze medal match will begin at 6:50 p.m., and the gold medal round will kick off 20 minutes later.