2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier

Preview And Picks For Last Olympic Qualifier

Preview And Picks For Last Olympic Qualifier

The best wrestlers not yet qualified for the Olympics have once chance remaining-The World Olympic Qualifier. See how they match up in Men's Freestyle.

May 4, 2021 by Jon Kozak
Preview And Picks For Last Olympic Qualifier
The World Olympic Qualifier is the last opportunity for the best competitors around the world to qualify for the Olympics. Every weight is filled with ranked wrestlers and past world medalists/champs. On top of that, only the finals of this tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Check out a breakdown and picks for every weight in men’s freestyle.

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The World Olympic Qualifier is the last opportunity for the best competitors around the world to qualify for the Olympics. Every weight is filled with ranked wrestlers and past world medalists/champs. On top of that, only the finals of this tournament will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Check out a breakdown and picks for every weight in men’s freestyle.

Watch the World Olympic Games Qualifier LIVE on FloWrestling

Thursday through Sunday, May 6-9, 2021

57kg - 23 Entries

Top Contenders

-#7 Yuki Takahashi (JPN) - 2017 World Champion, 2018 World Bronze

-Bekhbayar Erdenebat (MGL) - 2017 World Bronze, 2015 World Bronze

-Taras Markovych  (UKR) - 2018 U23 World Bronze, 2019 Euro Games 5th

-Georgi Edisherashvili (AZE) - 2018 Euro Gold, 2017 Euro Gold

-Vladislav Andreev (BLR) - 2014 World Bronze, 2018 Euro Bronze

-Reineri Andreu (CUB) - 2019 & 2017 U23 World Gold, 2020 Pan-Am Gold

Yuki Takahashi is the most credentialed of the bunch but should be challenged by the likes of Erdenebat, Edisherashvili, and Andreu. The only wrestler in this field to have a win over Takahashi since 2018 is Reineri Andreu-they've split matches in the last 3 years. Despite having the win over Takahashi, Andreu also had losses to Edisherashvili and Erdenebat in that same time frame. This illustrates how little separates the top 4 at 57kg.

Bracket Breakdown:
Takahashi and Andreu should meet in the semi-finals on the top side of the bracket. Takahashi shouldn’t be challenged prior to that match but Andreu received a tough first round match against Andreev (spelled Andreyeu in the bracket).

Edisherashvili, Markovych, and Erdenebat are all on the bottom side of this bracket. Two potential “wild cards” not listed in the contenders are Kim (KOR) and Gogava (GEO). Both have the potential to upset any of the top contenders and make a run on the bottom side. 

Link to 57kg Bracket

Gold - Yuki Takahashi (JPN)
Silver -Bekhbayar Erdenebat (MGL)
Bronze - Reineri Andreu (CUB)
Bronze - Georgi Edisherashvili (AZE)

65kg - 28 Entries

Top Contenders

-#12 Ilyas Bekbulatov (UZB) - 2020 Asian Gold, 2018 Euro Silver, 2018, 2017, 2015, & 2013 Yarygin Gold,  2017 Euro Gold

-#20 Jordan Oliver (USA) - 2019 & Bill Farrell Gold, 2020 Matteo Pellicone Silver, 2009 Junior World Bronze

-Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (POL) - 2020 World Cup Gold, 2019 World Bronze, 2017 World Silver

-Beka Lomtadze (GEO) - 2019 World Gold, 2016 World Silver

65kg is unique amongst the weights at the last qualifier in that the top contenders at this weight have not wrestled each other in the last few years. Obviously this makes it hard to predict how the weight will materialize. Part of this is due to the top contender's lack of competition at 65kg. Gadzhiev and Bekbulatov are descending from 70kg. Lomtadze is moving up from 61kg after Khinchegasvili was a late scratch because of a positive Covid test. Because this is the only weight Team USA is not qualified in freestyle, we did a deep dive into the competitors - check it out here.

Bracket Breakdown:
The top side is wide open at 65kg. Kilicsallayan is the favorite up top but is not a sure bet. He’ll be challenged by the likes of Mukhtarov and Habat just to make the semis. Mukhtarov has a head to head win against Kilicsallayan from the 2020 Poland Open. Habat is 2-1 against Mukhtarov since 2018 but is 0-2 with 2 one point losses against Kilicsallayan. Whoever makes it out of that top quarter should be the heavy favorite in the semi.

The bottom half of 65kg is where all of the top talent is. Jordan Oliver and Ilyas Bekbulatov should meet in the round of 16 with the winner likely getting Gor Ogannesyan in the quarter. Whoever wins in the Oliver - Bekbulatov match should be a favorite against Ogannesyan to make the semis. In the bottom quarter, three potential competitors could find their way to the semi. Gadzhiev, a two-time world medalist should be the favorite but will be challenged by Euro Silver Skriabin and 2019 World Champion Beka Lomtadze. 

Link to 65kg Bracket

Gold - Jordan Oliver (USA)
Silver - Selahattin Kilicsallayan (TUR)
Bronze - Ilyas Bekbulatov (UZB)
Bronze - David Habat (SLO)

74kg - 29 Entries

Top Contenders

-#3 Tajmuraz Salkazanov (SVK) -  2019 World Bronze, 2021 Euro Gold, 2018 U23 World Gold

-#8 Khetik Tsabolov (SRB) -  2014 World Gold, 2017 World Silver, 2020 Russian Nationals Silver’

-Soner Demirtas (TUR) - 2017 World Bronze, 2016 Olympic Bronze, 2020 Euro Bronze 

-#16 Georgios Kougioumtsidis (GRE) - 2018 Cadet World Silver, 2021 Euro Qualifier Bronze

-#18 Ali-Pasha Umarpashaev (BUL)

-#20 Magomed Kadimagomedov (BLR) - 2020 World Cup Bronze, 2020 Euro Gold, 2017 Russian Nationals Gold

-Murad Kuramagomedov (BUL) - 2020 World Cup 5th, 2020 Euro 5th, 2019 U23 World 5th

-Vasil Mikhailov (UKR) - 2020 World Cup Bronze, 2020 Euro Bronze, 2017 U23 World Bronze 

The high level talent at 74kg makes it the deepest weight at the World Qualifier. Any two who qualify out of this bunch will be threats to medal in Tokyo. Salkazanov is entering the qualifier with momentum after winning the 2021 European Championships and knocking off Frank Chamizo, Avtandil Kentchadze, and Razambek Zhamalov in the process. 

Khetik Tsabolov should also be considered one of the best at 74kg. He beat two-time defending world champion Zaurbek Sidkaov 6 months ago and is the only wrestler on the planet to have a winning record against Sidakov (Tsabolov is 2-1 against him). Umarpashaev is the wild card in this bunch. While he doesn’t have major credentials, he  just defeated Kadimagomedov and Salkazanov (by pin) at the European Qualifier. At that same tournament, Kadimagomedov defeated Demirtas. 

Bracket Breakdown:
The top side at 74kg is not as deep as the bottom side. Kougioumtsidis is the only ranked competitor up top and the next best on his side are Mikhailov (UKR), Kuramagomedov (HUN), and Finesilver (ISR). Anyone of those 4 would not be a huge surprise to make the finals. Kuramagomedov is the seasoned vet of that group and might be the safe bet but the other 3 have had great, recent success internationally.

The bottom half of the bracket at 74kg has 4 ranked wrestlers and another former medalist in Demirtas who is not currently ranked. Salkazanov and Umarpashaev should meet in the quarters and while Salkazanov had an outstanding European Championship, Umarpashaev pinned Salkazanov in April. Tsabolov and Demirtas will meet in the round of 16 and the winner will likely meet Kadimagomdeov in the quarter finals. 

Link to 74kg Bracket

Gold - Tajmuraz Salkazanov (SVK)
Silver - Vasil Mikhailov (BUL)
Bronze - Hetik Tsabolov (SRB
Bronze - Murad Kuramagomedov (HUN)

86kg - 30 Entries

Top Contenders 

-Boris Makoev (SVK) - 2017 World Silver, 2020 Euro Bronze

-#20 Sohsuke Takatani (JPN) - 2014 World Silver 

-Azamat Dauletbekov (KAZ) - 2018 U23 World Silver 

-Sandro Aminashvili (GEO) - 2015 World Bronze, 2021 Euro Silver

-#18 Zbigniew Baranowski (POL) - 2020 World Cup Silver

-Yurieski Torreblanca (CUB) - 2020, 2019, 2017, & 2015 Pan-Am Gold

86kg has a fair amount of depth but most contenders have not experienced recent success at the highest level internationally. Boris Makoev, the most recent world medalist (2017) defeated Sandro Aminashvili at the European qualifier in March. Then, Aminashvilli took silver at the 2021 European Championship in April. He made the finals by defeating multiple time world bronze medalist Ali Shabanau before losing to Artur Naifonov in the finals. Yurieski Torreblanca, who has had two close matches with David Taylor,  will be a tough matchup for everyone at this weight but has not wrestled any of the contenders in the last 3 years.

To conserve time, the top contenders at 86kg can also be summarized by one word - "Inconsistent". By evaluating their recent performances, any of the top 6-10 at this weight have the potential to make the finals or go 0-1.

Bracket Breakdown
The only two ranked wrestlers are both in the top half of the 74kg bracket. #20 Takatani and #18 Baranowski should find their way to the semi-finals there.  Expect Baranowski to be challenged by former UNC Tar Heel Ethan Ramos in the quarters and Takatani to be challenged by Alekma (FRA).

Aminashvili, Magamaev, Abakarov, Dauletbekov, Makoev, Aliiev, Ianulov, and Torreblanca are all guys on the bottom who could realistically make the finals. All of those competitors have had varied levels of success over the years and should be considered in the same “tier” at 86kg. This makes it almost impossible to predict how this bracket will materialize. 

Link to 86kg Bracket

Gold - Sandro Aminashvili (GEO)
Silver -Zbigniew Baranowski (POL)
Bronze - Yurieski Torreblanca (CUB)
Bronze - Sohsuke Takatani (JPN)

97kg - 19 Entries

Top Contenders

-Albert Saritov (ROU) - 2016 Olympic Bronze

-Ahmed Bataev (BUL) - 2020 World Cup Bronze 

-Abraham de Jesus Conyedo (ITA) - 2018 World Bronze 

-#18 Erik Thiele (GER) - 2016 Junior World Silver, 2021 Euro Qualifier Bronze 

-Valeriii Andriitsev (UKR) - 2014 World Bronze, 2015 Euro Bronze, 2012 Olympic Silver

Both Erik Thiele and Abraham de Jesus Conydeo took bronze at the 2021 European Qualifier. Erik Thiele defeated Albert Saritov and Abraham de Jesus Conyedo defeated Ahmed Bataev in their medal matches there. Outside of Andriitsev, every other top competitor was in the field at the Euro Qualifier. However, Andriitsev defeated Thiele back in January 2019 at the Henri Deglane and should be able to challenge the rest of the field despite being at the tail-end of his career.

Bracket Breakdown

Conyedo and Thiele will meet in the opening round and the winner of that is the favorite to advance to the finals in the top half of 97kg. Bataev (BUL) should be the favorite to meet the Conyedo/Thiele winner in the semi and should be able to challenge for the Olympic spot.

Andriitsev and Saritov should be considered the favorites to meet in the semis. They are the most credentialed in their half of the bracket but definitely past their prime competitive years. Because of that, expect them to be challenged from their opening matches by the likes of Ceban, Baran, Scherrer, and Chinbat.

Link to 97kg Bracket

Gold - Erik Thiele
Silver - Valerii Andriitsev
Bronze - Albert Saritov
Bronze - Ahmed Bataev

125kg - 20 Entries

Top Contenders

-#6 Sergey Kozyrev (RUS) - 2021 Russian Nationals Gold, 2021 Euro Silver

-#13 Robert Baran (POL) - 2020 World Cup Silver, 2020 Euro Bronze

-Daniel Ligeti (HUN) - 2012 Euro Silver,  2011 Euro Bronze, 2010 World 5th

-#16 Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ) - 2021 Asian Silver, 2020 World Cup Bronze, 2020 Asian Silver 

Sergey Kozyrev and Robert Baran are the young challengers looking to take out the more established veterans in Daniel Ligeti and Aiaal Lazarev. Kozyrev will attempt to qualify the final Olympic spot for Russia’s men's freestyle team and was competing on the Cadet level just 3 years ago. As a cadet, Kozyrev defeated #3 Amir Zare (IRI) to win Youth Olympic gold. Kozyrev has limited results on the senior level but looked incredible at Russian Nationals in March 2021.

Robert Baran has impressive wins of his own. In January he defeated Nick Gwiazdowski at the Henri Deglane. He also has past wins over Ligeti (4 wins from 2018-2020) and Lazarev (Dec. 2020). At the 2021 Euro Qualifier, Baran lost a close, 3-2 match to Russia’s Shamil Sharipov to end his quest to qualify there. 

Lazarev looks to be wrestling better than Ligeti lately. Lazarev took bronze at the Asian Championships and the highlight for him was his semi-final win over #17 Amin Taheri (IRI). He was losing to Taheri before he threw him for 4 points and eventually got the pin. 

Bracket Breakdown:
Unlike the other freestyle brackets, the top talent at 125kg is primarily in the top half of the bracket. Kozyrev and Baran should met in the quarters and expect the winner of that to face off against Ligeti to qualify for the Olympics. The winner of the Baran/Kozyrev match should be considered the heavy favorite in that semi-final.

On the bottom, Lazarev is a slight favorite but will be challenged by Sumit, Romanov, Ludescher and Galayev. Out of all of the freestyle brackets, the bottom half of 125kg is the most wide open and could see a major underdog make the finals. 

Link to 125kg Bracket

Gold - Sergei Kozyrev (RUS)
Silver - Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ)
Bronze -Robert Baran (POL)
Bronze - Vakhit Galayev (AZE)