2021 Junior World Championships

Tokyo Olympians Cut Their Teeth At Junior Worlds

Tokyo Olympians Cut Their Teeth At Junior Worlds

See the Tokyo Olympians in men's freestyle who first competed at Junior Worlds and how they performed at the age level world championships.

Aug 12, 2021 by Jon Kozak
Tokyo Olympians Cut Their Teeth At Junior Worlds
The upcoming Junior World Championships will take place in Ufa, Russia August 16-22. Junior Worlds has become the premier tournament for the best wrestlers under 20 years old and will be sure to be a preview of future World/Olympic medalists and champions. With the completion of the Olympics, this article will break down which Tokyo Olympians first competed at Junior Worlds and how they performed there.

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The upcoming Junior World Championships will take place in Ufa, Russia August 16-22. Junior Worlds has become the premier tournament for the best wrestlers under 20 years old and will be sure to be a preview of future World/Olympic medalists and champions. With the completion of the Olympics, this article will break down which Tokyo Olympians first competed at Junior Worlds and how they performed there.

The Tokyo Medalists

In men’s freestyle, 24 wrestlers took home Olympic medals. Of those 24 medalists, 16 competed at Junior Worlds in the past 15 years. Take a look below to see the breakdown of the Olympic medalists who also how they fared at Junior Worlds (placement at jr worlds in parenthesis)


GoldSilverBronzeBronze
57kgZavur Uguev (Gold in 2013)Ravi Kumar (Silver in 2015, DNP in 2016)Thomas Gilman (Bronze in 2014)Nurislam Sanayev (DNW)
65kgTakuto Otoguro (DNW)Haji Aliyev (DNW)Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Bronze in 2014 and 2015)Bajrang Punia (DNP in 2012)
74kgZaurbek Sidakov (Bronze in 2014)Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (DNW)Kyle Dake (DNP in 2008)Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (DNW)
86kgDavid Taylor (DNP in 2007Hassan Yazdani (Gold in 2014)Artur Naifonov (Gold in 2017)Myles Amine (DNW)
97kgAbdulrashid Sadulaev (DNW)Kyle Snyder (Gold in 2013, bronze in 2014)Reineris Salas (Bronze in 2006 and 2007)Abraham Conyedo (DNW)
125kgGable Steveson (Gold in 2017, DNP in 2018)Geno Petriashvili (Gold in 2013, bronze in 2012)Amir Zare (Silver in 2019)Taha Akgul (Silver in 2010)

*DNP = Did not place at Junior Worlds
**DNW = Did not wrestle at Junior Worlds

There are countless conclusions to draw from the above chart. Every wrestler represented above has his own story of progression from the junior level to senios. One thing is clear, a Tokyo Olympian was represented at every junior worlds from 2012-2019. This year's Junior Worlds will almost certainly feature wrestlers who will be competitive at senior worlds before long and take the mat in 2024 at the Paris Olympics.


The Best Junior Worlds Ever

Looking back over the last 15 years of Junior Worlds, a few remarkable years stand out. For instance, in 2013 Tokyo Olympians Zavur Uguev, Kyle Snyder, and Geno Petriashvili all won Junior World gold! 2015 saw both Zaurbek Sidakov and Aaron Pico take bronze at 66kg (they were on opposite sides of the bracket and didn't wrestle). Also, in 2017 Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Artur Naifonov defeated 2X NCAA Champion Zahid Valencia in the finals at 84kg. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now look back on every year of Junior World Championships and find examples of today's stars in incredible matches and brackets at Junior Worlds.

While there are numerous remarkable years in past junior worlds, no year compares to 2014. Of the 94 Tokyo Olympians, 12 of them competed at the 2014 Junior Worlds (most of any year). On top of that, 5 of the Olympic medalists also medaled at those 2014 Junior Worlds. Take a look at the list of those Olympians:

Olympic Medalists at 2014 Jr Worlds:

  • Thomas Gilman (USA) - 55kg Bronze
  • Gadzhimurad Rashidov (RUS) - 60kg Bronze
  • Hassan Yazdani (IRI)  - 66kg Gold
  • Kyle Snyder (USA) - 96kg Bronze
  • Geno Petriashvili (GEO) - 120kg Gold* (later stripped because of positive PED test)

Other Olympians At 2014 Jr Worlds:

  • Abdelhak Kherbache (ALG) - DNP at 55kg
  • Reza Atri (IRI) - DNP at 55kg
  • Kamil Rybicki (POL) - DNP at 66kg
  • Zushen Lin (CHN) - DNP at 74kg
  • Stefan Reichmuth (SUI) - DNP at 74kg
  • Amar Dhesi (CAN) - 120kg Silver (changed to gold after Petriashvili’s positive test)
  • Gennadij Cudinovic (GER) - DNP at 120kg


Total Olympians Who Wrestled in Junior Worlds

61, yes 61 of the 94 Olympians wrestled at Junior Worlds at some point in their career. Of those 61 Olympians who wrestled at junior worlds, 30 of them won medals. While the charts below are massive, they outline the complete list of Olympians who wrestled at Junior Worlds and how they performed there. The enormity of this list further illustrates the depth of talent at the Junior World Championships and how the tournament is often a “first look” at the future stars of international wrestling. 

57kg - 14/16 Olympians

CountryWrestlerYear At Junior WorldsPlace At Junior Worlds
RusZavur Uguev2013Gold
INDRavi Kumar2015 & 2016Silver, DNP
USAThomas Gilman2013 & 2014

DNP, Bronze

IRIReza Atri 2014DNP
BULGeorgi Vangelov2011, 2012, and 2013

Silver, DNP, DNP

MGLBekhbayar Erdenebat2011 & 2012DNP, Gold
TURSuleyman Atli2013 Silver
SRB (USA)Stevan Micic2015Bronze
ARMArsen Harutyunyan2017 & 2018

Bronze, Bronze

ALGAbdelhak Kherbache2014 & 2015DNP
COLÓscar Tigreros 2016DNP
UZBGulomjon Abdullaev2016, 2017, 2018

Bronze, DNP, DNP

CHNMinghu Liu2018DNP
GBSDiamantino Iuna Fafé 2019DNP


65kg - 7/16 Olympians

CountryWrestlerYear At Jr WorldsPlace At Junior Worlds
RUSGadzhimurad Rashidov2014 & 2015

Bronze & Bronze

INDBajrang Punia2012DNP
HUNIsmail Musukaev2012 & 2013DNP, Silver
ARGAgustín Destribats2016 & 2017DNP, DNP
KGZErnazar Akmataliev2017DNP
ARMVazgen Tevanyan2018 & 2019

Bronze, DNP

POLMagomedmurad Gadzhiev2008Gold


74kg - 11/16 Olympians

CountryWrestlerYear At Jr WorldsPlace At Junior Worlds
RUSZaurbek Sidakov2015Bronze
USAKyle Dake 2008DNP (in Greco)
ITAFrank Chamizo2010DNP
KAZDaniyar Kaisanov2013DNP
POLKamil Rybicki2014DNP
GEOAvtandil Kentchadze2015DNP
IRIMostafa Hosseinkhani2008DNP
EGYAmr Reda Hussen2017DNP
UKRVasyl Mykhailov2015DNP
AZETuran Bayramov2019Bronze
CUBGeandry Garzon2003Gold


86kg - 11/16 Olympians

CountryWrestlerYear At Jr WorldsPlace At Junior Worlds
USADavid Taylor2007DNP
IRIHassan Yazdani2014Gold
RUSArtur Naifonov2017Gold
INDDeepak Punia2017, 2018, 2019

DNP, Silver, Gold

UZBJavrail Shapiev2017DNP
TUROsman Gocen2016 & 2017Silver, DNP
SUIStefan Reichmuth2012 & 2014DNP
CHNZushen Lin2014DNP
COLCarlos Izquierdo2015 & 2016DNP
JPNSohsuke Takatani2007 & 2009DNP
ALGFateh Benferdjallah2019DNP


97kg - 7/16 Olympians

CountryWrestlerYear At Jr WorldsPlace At Junior Worlds
USAKyle Snyder2013 & 2014

Gold, Bronze

CUBReineris Salas2006 & 2007Bronze & Bronze
BLRAliaksandr Hushtyn2013DNP
MKD (RUS)Magomedgadzhi Nurov2012DNP
KAZAlisher Yergali2017 & 2018DNP, Silver
ALGMohammed Fardj2018DNP
TUNMohamed Saadaoui2015DNP


125kg - 8/16 Olympians

CountryWrestlerYear At Jr WorldsPlace At Junior Worlds
USAGable Steveson2017 & 2018Gold, DNP
GEOGeno Petriashvili2012, 2013, 2014

Bronze, Gold, Gold

TURTaha Akgul2010Silver
IRIAmir Zare2019Silver
MGLLkhagvagerel Munkhtur2018DNP
CHNZhiwei Deng2007Bronze
GERGennadij Cudinovic2014DNP
BLRDzianis Khramiankou2015SIlver


Some Fun Facts:

  • 57kg had the most Olympians (14) and Medalists (9) from Junior Worlds
  • 86kg had the most Olympians with Junior World Golds - 3
  • Only 4 Olympians competed in 3 Junior Worlds - Georgi Vangelov, Gulomjon Abdullaev, Deepak Punia, and Geno Petriashvili
  • Only 6 Olympians won multiple junior world medals - Arsen Harutyunyan, Gadzhimurad Rashidov, Deepak Punia, Kyle Snyder, Reineris Salas, and Geno Petriashvili (17 had numerous attempts)
  • David Taylor (50kg to 86kg) and Dzianis Khramiankou (84kg to 125kg) had the largest weight gain from Juniors to Olympics
  • Sadulaev and Otoguro were the only Olympic Gold Medalists to not compete at Junior Worlds - they both won Cadet World Championships
  • David Taylor is the only Olympic Gold medalist to not win an age-level world medal


This Year In Russia

In this previous article, we explored how just making the team for Americans almost certainly means success at the NCAA level for collegiate wrestlers. You can also check out the roster for Team USA in every style here. Beyond the American success, this year's junior worlds will be a testing ground for all international wrestlers and could be the beginning of stardom for many future world/Olympic medalists or champs.