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The 2019 world championships begin in just a few days in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. United World Wrestling has released the entries, and while most of the rosters looked as expected, there were a few surprises.
This includes some interesting weight changes, world medalists being left home, and difficult decisions about which of two studs to choose. Below are the things that stood out the most to us.
Cuba Only Sending Four
A year after finishing fourth despite only sending half a team to Budapest, Cuba is only sending four to Nur-Sultan. We knew they could only send six since that's how many they sent to the Pan Am championships, but I figured they would all be at Olympic weights. Here are their entries.
61kg: #7 Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez
65kg: #2 Alejandro Valdes Tobier
74kg: Geandry Garzon
86kg: #20 Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta
Despite having two extra spots, they chose not to send last year's 70kg bronze medalist Franklin Maren Castillo, 2017 U23 world champ Reineri Andreu Ortega, who is ranked 8th at 57kg and wrestled for bronze last year, or three-time world medalist and 2016 Olympian Reineris Salas Perez at 97kg.
Euro Champ Dropping To 57kg
Arsen Harutyunyan (ARM) was the European champ this year at 61kg in what was his senior level debut. The previous two years he had won Junior world bronzes for Armenia. But 61 is a non-Olympic weight, and despite being ranked fourth with a legitimate shot at a world title, he is instead dropping to try to qualify the weight for Tokyo.
Italy Not Sending Returning Bronze Medalist
In total, there are nine medalists from last year who are not wrestling this year, which is over 20% of those who finished on the podium. Most of those we knew ahead of time, as even Maren Castillo I somewhat expected to not be sent. But most surprising is Abraham Conyedo Ruano, a native Cuban who now wrestles for Italy. Last year, he beat Pavlo Oliynyk of Hungary for bronze. Oliynyk himself was a former two-time world medalist for Ukraine who won't be competing this year for Hungary.
Sharifov Bumps Up To 97kg
More new at 97kg comes out of Azerbaijan, where 2012 Olympic gold medalist Sharif Sharifov is once again changing weights. We had him ranked #3 at 92 heading into worlds, but an apparent knee injury to Nurgamomed Gadzhyev shifted their lineup. Shamil Zubairov is now their 92, which also leaves 2017 world medalist Aslanbek Alborov on the sidelines.
Turkey Goes With Demirtas Over Gor
Turkey had two excellent options at 74kg in #7 Soner Demirtas and #8 Yakup Gor. Demirtas won bronze at the Olympics and 2017 worlds, plus European titles in 2017 and 2018. Most recently he made the Euro Games finals. Gor made the Yarygin finals this year, wrestled for a medal in 2017 and won bronze in 2015. He had the seventh most seeding points of anyone at 74kg.