2021 - Olympic Qualifiers - Men's Freestyle
125KG - Taha Akgul
Since 2014, the heavyweight crown in Men’s Freestyle has belonged to either Geno Petriashvili (2017, 2018, 2019) or Taha Akgul (2014, 2015, 2016). Petriashvili and Akgul are still the safe favorites in Tokyo and will be seeded 1 and 2 respectively. However, the established veterans will be challenged by the new era in Gable Steveson and Amir Zare. Steveson is still limited in his freestyle competition so his ranking is relatively low to where many expect him to finish. Zare, on the other hand, defeated Geno Petriashvili back in December 2019. Because Steveson and Zare have not competed much on the senior level, they also have not earned seeding points and will be randomly drawn into the bracket at 125kg.
Amir Zare won gold at the Poland Open after dominating Nick Gwiazdowski in the finals. Zare also locked in his spot as the representative for Iran at 125kg for the Olympic Games after Amin Taheri failed to place. Taheri lost to former Maryland All-American, Youssif Hemida in the quarter-finals, 6-3. Hemida placed 5th after losing to Gwiazdowski in the semi-finals and Yusup Batirmurzaev in the bronze medal match. Despite the performance from Hemida, Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb will still be the representative for Egypt at the Olympics in Tokyo.
The new addition to the rankings, and to the Olympic field at 125kg, is Aiaal Lazarev (KGZ). Lazarev takes the spot of Sumit Malik (IND) after Malik tested positive for a performance enhancing drug at the World Olympic Qualifier in May. Malik was a "surprise" qualifier for the Olympics and Lazarev is a bit more credentialed. Lazarev has past head to head wins over Dhesi, Cudinovic and Khotsianivskyi in this field but has a recent loss to Munkhtur. Because of that loss, Lazarev slides into #11 in these Olympian rankings.
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