2024 European Qualifiers

What The Euro Olympic Games Qualifier Means For Team USA

What The Euro Olympic Games Qualifier Means For Team USA

Here's what the Euro Olympic Games Qualifier means for the two men's freestyle weights Team USA has yet to secure for Paris.

Apr 3, 2024 by Andrew Spey

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Two wrestlers per weight class will earn invites to the 2024 Olympic Games at the upcoming Euro Qualifier. Here's what that means for Team USA's men's freestyle wrestlers. 

How Do You Get To The Paris Olympics?

Practice, practice, practice. Sorry, couldn't help myself. 

Anyway, what you actually want to know is how wrestlers get themselves in the brackets at the Olympics so they can compete for a gold medal.

There are three ways a country can qualify a weight class for the Games: 

1) Finish in the top 5 at the 2023 World Championships

2) Finish in the top 2 at the Continental Qualifier

2) Finish in the top 3 of the World Qualifier

The 2023 Worlds were last year (duh) and we are now in the midst of Continental Qualifier Season. The World Qualifier (aka the Last Chance Qualifier) is over the second weekend in May. 

Where Do Team USA's Men's Freestylers Stand With Regards To Olympic Qualification?

Team USA qualified four of the six Olympic weights in men's freestyle at the 2023 World Championship (74, 86, 97 & 125kg). The Pan-Am Qualifier took place at the end of February. Team USA did not qualify either 57 or 65kg at the Pan-Am Qualifier. 

So that's where we're at! We still need to qualify 57 and 65 at the World Qualifier, which will happen after the Olympic Team Trials. So whoever wins those wrestle-offs will head to Istanbul, Turkey to try and place in the top three, either by making the finals or by wrestling back for bronze and then winning a wrestle-off with the other bronze medal-winner. 

And remember, you qualify your federation (e.g. country) for a spot in the Olympic bracket. It's up to the federation to decide who will wrestle. For Team USA, that means either men's freestyle participant at the World Qualifier will, in essence, punch their own ticket to Paris. If that wrestler should later get injured before the Olympics begin, the Trials runner-up will wrestle at the Olympics in their place. Not something anyone hopes will happen, just something to keep in mind!

Who Will Be In The 57kg And 65kg  Field In Istanbul?

Excellent question! And one that hits on the importance of the Euro Qualifier. Whichever countries qualify for Paris in Baku will not be trying to qualify in Istanbul. So it's addition by subtraction for Team USA. I think. I'm honestly not really sure what that phrase but you get the idea.  

Who Will Be In The 57kg And 65kg Field In Baku?

Another excellent question! UWW has provided a helpful list of all the wrestlers that have registered to compete at the Euro Qualifier. Here are the names for 57 and 65kg in men's freestyle. 



Aliabbas RZAZADE (AZE)





Horst LEHR (GER)


Vladimir EGOROV (MKD)


Thomas EPP (SUI)

Suleyman ATLI (TUR)







Mikyay NAIM (BUL)








Stefan COMAN (ROU)


Abdullah TOPRAK (TUR)


Are Any Of Those Guys Any Good?

Yes! They are very good at wrestling! But who are the favorites is perhaps what you are really asking? Cross-referencing that entry list with our very own International Men's Freestyle Rankings yields the following: 

57kg: #9 Aliabbas Rzazade, AZE

65kg: #12 Haji Aliev, AZE

Razazade is the younger of the two Azerbaijani wrestlers. He won a U23 world gold in 2021 and more recently climbed to the top of the podium at the 2023 European Championships. 

Haji Aliev (or Haji Aliyev, or Hacı Əliyev) is already a two-time Olympic medalist, having earned bronze at 57kg in 2016 and silver in 2020 at 65kg. He's also a three-time world champ (all at 61kg) and an eight-time European Championships or Games medalist, most recently winning Euro gold in 2023. 

So there's a good chance Aliev and Rzazade remove themselves from the potential pool of competitors at the World Qualifier by earning their Olympic bids in their home country. Should they do so, they will also become medal contenders in Paris. 

Who Else Is Tough At 57kg?

Another top contender at 57 is Suleyman Atli of Turkey, who is a 2018 and 2019 world medalist and a 2023 Euro silver medalist. Despite not being ranked at the moment, Atli will be a dangerous foe in any bracket. 

And though Germany is not typically strong in men's freestyle, it would be unwise to overlook the young Horst Lehr, who is a 2021 world bronze medalist, as well as a U23 Euro gold medalist in 2022, and Euro bronze medalist on the senior level in 2023. 

Additionally, though Aryan Tsiutryn's best days are likely behind him, he did outplace Rzazade at the prestigious Dan Kolov tournament in 2022. Tsiutryn will not represent Belarus at the Olympics as, like Russia, that federation is banned from participating at the Olympic Games. However, Belarussian and Russian athletes may compete in Paris as individual neutral athletes. Every sport handles the qualification process separately, but for wrestling, Belarus and Russia will participate and qualify as normal, they will just do it blank, generic singlets and with no flag or national anthem should they make the podium. 

Finally, two other wrestlers who should not be discounted are Ilman Mukhtarov of France and Roberti Dingashvili of Georgia. Mukhtarov has Russian roots (Chechen to be precise) but he is not a transfer, having grown up in France along with many other French wrestlers whose families fled Chechnya as refugees during the 1990s. Both Mukhtarov and Dingashvili have done well on the senior level, with Dingashvili notably placing third at the 2024 European Championships. 

Okay, Now Do 65kg

This weight is usually the deepest at any major freestyle tournament, and the Euro Qualifier looks to be no exception. 

Islam Dudaev, a Russian transfer wrestling for Albania, just won the 2024 European Championships. He will be one of the top contenders to qualify for Paris in Baku.

Also in the field are Kizhan Clarke and Josh Finesilver, both accomplished folkstyle wrestlers, with Clarke wrestling for American University and later for North Carolina where he made the NCAA finals, and Finesilver wrestling for Duke, where he and his three brothers once comprised 40% of the Blue Devil starting lineup. 

Khamzat Arsamerzouev is, like Mukhtarov, not a Russian transfer but a French athlete with Russian heritage. Similarly, Ayub Musaev is a Belgian with Russian heritage, and Erik Arushanian is a Ukrainian with Armenian heritage. None of them ever transferred federations, though, and all three could be factors in the 65kg bracket. 

Niurgun Skriabin, however, did transfer from Russia (Siberia to be more precise) to Belarus. Both countries' athletes will have to compete as neutral athletes should they qualify for Paris. You can also put Skriabin and pretty much everyone else in that bracket in the 'dangerous but not unbeatable' category. 

Anyone Team USA Would Prefer To See Win in Baku? 

Tough to say that Team USA has any real rooting interest here. Two of the toughest competitors will remove themselves from the competition pool for the World Qualifier at each weight no matter what. 

Really what the Euro Qualifier does is it allows Team USA to scout the competition. It's possible though highly unlikely that the European federations that don't qualify at Baku will send a different wrestler to Istanbul, so this is an excellent opportunity to study potential opponents. 

What Else Should We Be Paying Attention To?

The Asian Qualifier will be held April 19-21, pretty much the same time as our Olympic Team Trials. After that, all but three Olympic bids will be spoken for (which we'll keep track of here) at each weight and we'll know exactly which federations still need to qualify for Paris. Then you can expect another article from your friends at FloWrestling, breaking down the potential 57 and 65kg men's freestyle brackets!

Then the entry lists will come out, and then we get to watch the tournaments! All the Olympic Qualifiers will be live on Flo. The Olympic Games, alas, will still be on NBC and Peacock. We'll be watching with you!