2024 Olympic Games Watch Party

57 kg 2024 Olympic Wrestling Preview - Spencer Lee Headlines Deep Field

57 kg 2024 Olympic Wrestling Preview - Spencer Lee Headlines Deep Field

A full preview with predictions for the 57 kg weight class in the men's freestyle wrestling division at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

May 28, 2024 by Jon Kozak
57 kg 2024 Olympic Wrestling Preview - Spencer Lee Headlines Deep Field

The 2024 Paris Olympics are quickly approaching and will feature the world’s best wrestlers. The 57 kg weight class is one of the world's deepest weights with several gold medal contenders. Check out the below article for a full breakdown of the weight along with predictions for who we think will come out on top in Paris.

The 57 kg 2024 Olympic Participants

Worlds

Gold - Stevan Micic, SRB

Silver - Rei Higuchi, JPN

Bronze - Arsen Harutyunyan, ARM

Bronze - Zelimkhan Abakarov, ALB

5th Place - Zaur Uguev, RUS

Continentals Qualifiers

Pan-Ams - Darian Cruz, PUR

Pan-Ams - Roman Bravo-Young, MEX

African & Oceania - Gamal Mohamad, EGY

African & Oceania - Diamantino Iuna Fafe, GBS

Euros - Aliabbas Rzazade, AZE

Euros - Aryan Tsiutryan, BLR

Asians - Bekzat Almaz Uulu, KGZ

Asians - Gulomjon Abdullaev, UZB

Last Chance World Qualifier

Spencer Lee, USA

Aman Sherawat, IND

Wanhao Zou, CHN

57 kg Olympians' Accolades 

Stevan Micic, SRB - 2023 World Champion, 2022 World Bronze

Rei Higuchi, JPN - 2022 World Champion, 2023 World Silver, 2016 Olympic Silver

Zelimkhan Abakarov, ALB - 2022 World Champion, 2023 World Bronze

Zaur Uguev, RUS - 2020 Olympic Champion, 2018 & 2019 World Champion

Arsen Harutyunyan, ARM - 2021, 2022, & 2023 World Bronze

Gulomjon Abdullaev, UZB - 2016 U20 World Bronze

Aman Sherawat, IND - 2022 U23 World Champion, 2023 Asian Gold, 2018 & 2019 U17 World Bronze

Spencer Lee, USA - 2015 & 2016 U20 World Champion, 2014 U17 World Champion

Aliabbas Rzazade, AZE - 2021 U23 World Champion, 2016 U20 World Bronze, 2023 European Champion

Bekzat Almaz Uulu, KGZ - 2022 & 2023 U23 World Bronze

Wanhao Zou, CHN - 2018 U23 World Bronze

Aryan Tsiutryan, BLR - 2021 World Bronze

57 kg Olympic Seeds

  1. Stevan Micic, SRB
  2. Rei Higuchi, JPN
  3. Arsen Harutyunyan, ARM
  4. Zelimkhan Abakarov, ALB
  5. Aman Sherawat, IND
  6. Zaur Uguev, AIN
  7. Wanhao Zou, CHN
  8. Gulomjon Abdullaev, UZB

The Favorites

  • Stevan Micic, SRB
  • Rei Higuchi, JPN
  • Zelimkhan Abakarov, ALB 
  • Zaur Uguev, RUS

The above four wrestlers are all past world champions highlighting the insane parity at 57 kg. Stevan Micic is the most recent world champion and went on an incredible run last year in Serbia defeating Zaur Uguev, Zelimkhan Abakarov, and Rei Higuchi in consecutive matches to claim gold. Beyond last year’s performance, Micic won bronze at Worlds in 2022, losing only to the aforementioned Abakarov. This will be Micic’s second Olympic Games and he’ll be looking for redemption after going 0-1 at the Tokyo Olympics 3 years ago. If Micic can replicate his performance from the past two years at Worlds, we can expect him to bring home hardware from Paris.

Micic's win over Rei Higuchi in the 2023 World Finals:


Rei Higuchi was runner-up to Micic last year but has put together an outstanding 2 years and was in on the winning takedown as time expired against Micic. Higuchi won the 61 kg world title in 2022 where he dominated his competition recording three techs with his closest match coming in a 15-7 decision over Seth Gross. Higuchi has some of the most dynamic offense in the world on his feet and has equally impressive parterre making him a threat to tech anyone in this weight class. Higuchi also remarkably won an Olympic silver medal 8 years ago at the 2016 Rio Olympics and will look to upgrade to gold in Paris.

Rei Higuchi's win over Arsen Harutyunyan at the 2023 World Championships:

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Zelimkhan Abakarov has stormed onto the 57 kg scene the past two years after transferring from Russia to Albania. Abakarov won a world title in 2022, defeating Stevan Micic (6-1) in the semis and Thomas Gilman (7-2) in the finals. Though Abakarov lost to Micic at 2023 Worlds, he won bronze by defeating Zaur Uguev 4-4. Abakarov has outstanding success scoring early to build a lead and then rely on his world-class defense to win matches. 

Zelimkhan Abakarov's win over Zaur Uguev at the 2023 World Championships:

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The final favorite at 57 kg is the defending Olympic champion Zaur Uguev. While Uguev placed 5th at the 2023 World Championships losing to Micic and Abakarov, he established himself from 2018-2022 as the best 57 kg in the world. Along with his Olympic title from Tokyo, Uguev won world titles in 2018 and 2019 and is by far the most credentialed wrestler in the field. Despite the credentials, Uguev has been vocal about how challenging it is for him to make 57 kg and even wrestled 61 kg recently at Russian Nationals. The weight cut, and as his losses at last year’s World Championships, make me question if he’s past his prime and if he can bring home a medal at this deep weight class.

Zaur Uguev's recent win in the finals of the 2023 Russian Nationals over Bashir Magomedov:

The Contenders

  • Spencer Lee, USA
  • Arsen Harutyunyan, ARM
  • Gulomjon Abdullaev, UZB 
  • Aman Sherawat, IND

Spencer Lee has had a fantastic 6 months on the senior level and will carry incredible momentum into the Paris Olympics. Lee started his run on the senior level last November when he won the Bill Farrell and then followed that up a month later by winning Senior Nationals. Then, at the Olympic Trials, Lee won gold after defeating world champion Thomas Gilman in two straight matches - 6-3 and by pin. However, because 57 kg wasn’t qualified for the United States, Lee had to go to the final World Olympic Qualifier to punch his ticket to Paris. At the qualifier, Lee went 4-0 to earn his Olympic bid while teching 3 of his 4 opponents. 

While Lee has been impressive over the past 6 months, there are still questions on how he will perform against the favorites at this weight class. In fact, Lee’s tight, 10-9 win over China’s Wanhao Zou at the Olympic Qualifier raised some concerns about his baseline defense. Despite that result and his lack of results on the senior level, all Lee has done throughout his career is win at the highest level. He is a three-time age-level world champion and his par terre offense makes him a threat to end any match once he gets on top. American fans have big expectations for Lee in Paris, and I believe Lee has what it takes to defeat every wrestler in the world at 57 kg.

Spencer Lee's matches at the World Olympic Qualifier:


After Lee, Harutyunyan, Abdullaev, and Sherawat have all performed well on the senior level over the past few years solidifying themselves in the next tier at 57 kg. Harutyunyan is a three-time world bronze medalist and has notable career wins over Wanhao Zou (10-0), Zelimkhan Abakarov (5-2), Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (7-5), Seth Gross (12-0), Suleyman Atli (15-3), Stevan Micic (7-4), and several others of the top wrestlers at 57 kg. With all of those wins, why don’t I consider Harutyunyan to be a favorite in this field? To put it simply, Harutyunyan has never proven he can navigate this deep of a field to win gold and his par terre defense has been his Achilles heel at the world championships. In 2021, Daton Fix teched Harutyunyan (10-0) - the next year Rei Higuchi also put him away with a 10-0  tech. Both wrestlers used their par terre offense to terminate the match early and with the wrestlers in this field, I could see that happening to Harutyunyan again in Paris.

Arsen Harutyunyan's win over Stevan Micic at the 2020 Individual World Cup:

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At the Tokyo Olympics, Gulomjon Abdullaev was less than 10 seconds away from defeating eventual champion Zaur Uguev but ended up losing 8-6 after giving up a 4-point inside trip. That almost-win wasn’t a fluke for Abdulallaev. He has notable wins over Aman, Ravi Kumar, and Wanhao Zou making him one of the best wrestlers in this bracket without a senior world medal. The problem for Abdullaev has been his consistency on the biggest stages. Abdullaev has dropped some matches against lower-ranked wrestlers but if he’s wrestling his best, he has the potential to medal at the Olympics.

India’s Aman Sherawat is the final wrestler who should be considered a contender at the Paris Games at 57 kg. Just 21 years old, Aman is one of India’s best wrestlers and is getting better every time he takes the mat. He’s already a U17 and U23 World Champion and boasts wins over Wanhao Zou, Zane Richards, Almaz Smanbekov, and Luke Lilledahl. Aman wrestles at an incredibly high pace and can often overwhelm his opponents with his pressure and length. The biggest weakness I notice in Aman’s game right now is his defense - both in the neutral and par terre position. This was highlighted recently when the aforementioned Gulomjon Abdullaev defeated Aman by tech fall at the Asian Olympic Qualifier. That deficiency, in my opinion, will likely keep Aman from making a deep run in this bracket. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he can knock off one of the more established vets at 57 kg. 

Aman's win over Zane Richards at the 2024 Zagreb Open:

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Sleepers & Landmines

  • Roman Bravo-Young, MEX
  • Aliabbas Rzazade, AZE 
  • Wanhao Zou, CHN 

The above three wrestlers are all guys I’m not picking to win a medal but are dangerous first-round draws for anyone in the bracket. Roman Bravo-Young highlights this group with 2 straight tournaments since his transfer to Mexico. RBY won both the Henri Deglane in January and then followed that up by qualifying for the Olympics at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier. At both of those tournaments, RBY displayed his lightning-quick reattacks along with an effective side-head lock turn on top. RBY’s biggest weakness so far has been his inability to generate his offense and his over-reliance on counter-offense. RBY might have trouble opening up some of the more defensive wrestlers in this bracket like Zaur Uguev, Zelimkhan Abakarov, or Arsen Harutyunyan. However, because the field hasn’t seen much of RBY, I believe he could surprise a lot of people in Paris and has the potential to bring home a medal.

Roman Bravo-Young's win over Oscar Tigreros to qualify for the 2024 Olympics:


Aliabbas Rzazade won a U23 world title in 2021 and is proving to be one of Azerbaijan’s best young wrestlers. On top of the U23 title, Rzazade has notable career wins over Zane Richards, Suleyman Atli, Yuto Nishiuchi, Wanhao Zou, and Horst Lehr. Rzazade is one of the taller 57 kg wrestlers in the field and his length can give his opponents trouble. Even with all of the success, Rzazade has had disappointing performances at the last two world championships going 1-1 while failing to place in both 2022 and 2023. I’m not picking Rzazade to beat any of the favorites in this weight but I wouldn’t be surprised if he knocks off a contender or two in Paris.

Aliabbas Rzazade's win over Wanhao Zou at the 2023 Zagreb Open:

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The final wrestler in this group is China’s Wanhao Zou who American fans know for his close loss to Spencer Lee at the final World Olympic Qualifier. Despite the loss, Zou went on to qualify for the Olympics with 3 straight wins over tough competition. Zou has never medaled at a senior world championships but won bronze at U23 worlds in 2018 and placed 5th at senior worlds in 2022. On top of those finishes, Zou has notable career wins over world medalist Horst Lehr, world medalist Alireza Sarlak, and Aliabbas Rzazade. Zou is a strong 57 kg wrestler who usually wrestles a “stingy” style making it difficult for his opponents to score more than a few points against him. Again, I don’t think he will win a medal, but he’ll be a tough match for anyone in the bracket.

Wanhao Zou's match against Spencer Lee at the World Olympic Games Qualifier:

Wanhao Zou, China vs Spencer Lee, USA

57 kg 2024 Olympic Predictions

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if one of 5 different guys in this bracket took home gold from Paris - there’s that much parity among the top wrestlers at this weight. However, even with all of the depth at 57 kg, I’m picking Spencer Lee to win gold. It might be my American bias, but I think Lee’s ability to finish leg attacks quickly and his unbelievable par terre offense will be the difference maker for him at the Olympics. He’s getting better every time we see him and I believe will see the best version of Spencer Lee in Paris.

Full Medal Predictions:

Gold - Spencer Lee, USA

Silver - Zaur Uguev, AIN (RUS)

Bronze - Stevan Micic, SRB

Bronze - Zelimkhan Abakarov, ALB