Elor Extends Domination as USA Wins Record Titles at #WrestleUfa
Thursday, August 19, 2021 - 20:10 By Vinay Siwach
UFA, Russia (August 19) -- Amit ELOR (USA) clearly remembers the day when she last gave up a point on the wrestling mat. In 2019 at the Cadet World Championships, she lost 3-1 to Honoka NAKAI (JPN) in the semifinals and ended with a bronze medal.
It's been 749 days since that bout and Elor is yet to give up a point to her opponents in the USA or internationally. The stunning run also includes winning the cadet and junior world title in less than a month.
Wrestling in the 68kg weight class at the Junior World Championships in Ufa, Russia, the 17-year-old defeated Elizaveta PETLIAKOVA (RUS) 10-0 in just one minute and 51 seconds to capture the gold medal, adding to her cadet win in Budapest last month.
The gold was one of the three that USA won Thursday with Emily SHILSON (USA) winning the title at 50kg and Kylie WELKER (USA) at 76kg. This is the first time USA women have won multiple titles at the junior event.
Russia and Belarus captured the remaining two gold medals as the first five world champions in women's wrestling were crowned. Russia won the 59kg title while Belarus completed a golden run at 55kg.
But none dominated like Elor.
In the final, Elor stopped a Russian shot attempt and spun behind for her first points. She tacked on six points on three leg laces and led 8-0 before capping the match with a pair of one-point stepouts. Her monk-like concentration is a feature that stood out during the tournament.
“I may look calm but I am not,” Elor said. “But the second the whistle blows, I am not nervous. I just started wrestling and it's muscle memory and I do what I have been doing for years.”
Her 10-0 finals win brought her overall for and against points total to 31-0 in her three matches. Combining the two title winning runs, she outsocred her opponents 63-0. It's all because of that loss in Sofia, Bulgaria two years ago that has made Elor look to score and not get scored upon.
“I haven't thought about the fact that I have not given up a point but every time I compete, I remember that match I lost [in Sofia] and I remember how I lost and compare it to what I am doing now. I remember the loss,” Elor said.
Incidentally, that bout was also the last time her match went one for the full time. At her trials in the USA, she won her five bouts with four pins and one technical superiority. At the same event in juniors, she won six bouts with two pins and four technical superiorities.
Elor says that loss two years ago had such an impact on her that she now wrestles with a completely different mindset.
“I was less aggressive and my goal in wrestling back then was to not get scored on,” she said. “But now my goal is to score as soon as possible. I am thinking differently. Before I was defensive and now I am offensive.”
Ufa was witness to that over two days when Elor wouldn't stop the pressure on her opponents and even when she got into tricky positions, it was her who would come out on top, her guts and leg lace making up for most of her points.
“I just stuck to the technique I know and stayed disciplined,” she said. “I have worked on many par terre techniques. It's important because it can make a huge difference between two points and six or eight points.”
But Elor isn't satisfied yet. With Japan and China skipping the two age-group Worlds, she believes it's an asterisk on her titles. Her other ambition of competing at the senior level can only be fulfilled next year.
“At the back of my mind I thought about Japan and China,” she said. “I was joking about missing the Olympic trials one day that if I could have been born somewhere with a time difference. Change locations may be. I was born past midnight. But it's okay and I see it as more time to prepare.”
Kylie WELKER (USA) won the 76kg gold medal in Ufa. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Welker was another USA champ that did not let her opponents score a single point during the entire tournament. She outscored her opponents 27-0 including a win via fall in the semifinal.
In the final, Welker snatched a high-level single leg and took BIPASHA (IND) straight to her back for four points. She stopped an Indian attack, added a pair of leg laces, and in less than 90 seconds claimed 76kg gold.
“It has not sunk in it,” Welker said. “It will sink in a few days. It's an amazing feeling. I am speechless. I didn't give up a point in this tournament so I'm excited about that.”
Welker was at the USA Olympic team trials and made it to the finals before losing to Adeline GRAY (USA). From that experience, Welker said she learnt a lot from that match.
“It was scary against Gray. I was nervous,” she said. “I learned that I should not be wrestling scared. I am there for a reason. I think I did not wrestle to my full potential.”
Emily SHILSON (USA) captured her second age-group title. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Shilson also captured her second age-group title, three years after winning the cadet worlds in 2018. During her qualification, Shilson looked tired and recovering from the weight cut but in the semifinal, she returned to her natural game.
A day later, Shilson was in her element as he worked her par terre to great effect and collected the gold medal over Enkhzul BATBAATAR (MGL). She began with right-side two-on-one and picked up the match’s first takedown. She stopped a single leg attempt from Batbaatar and capitalized on a second takedown before transitioning into a right-sided trapped arm gut wrench.
Her Mongolian opponent slipped her arm out, but Shilson carried her momentum into a pair of gut wrenches and closed out the match 10-0 in the first period.
Talking about her gameplan, Shilson explained that par terre is her go to weapon and helps her close out her bouts.
“In wrestling, getting on top is a game changer,” Shilson said. “It helped me a lot in my semis and if you can get turned on top it will really help in matches.”
Shilson's title came with no Japan, China or Ukraine wrestlers but she said it was a learning experience.
“Every age-group title, it feels a little bit different,” she said. “I want to win a senior world title and retire. I always learn something from every single match, wrestling overseas and different opponents.”
Going forward, she will be wrestling at the selection trials for the senior Worlds and later wrestle at the U23 Worlds in November.
“Coming up soon I have the U23 worlds. I want to win that. I don't wrestle for any other reason,” she said. “Later in the cycle. I want to make the senior world team, Olympic team and win senior world titles.”
Anastasia SIDELNIKOVA (RUS) won the 59kg gold medal after a 24-14 win in the final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
One of the two non-USA wrestlers to win gold Thursday was Anastasiia SIDELNIKOVA (RUS). In what can perhaps be the highest point-grossing bout ever in women's wrestling at junior Worlds, she defeated Aryna MARTYNAVA (BLR) 24-14 claiming the 59kg gold to the delight of the limited home crowd.
In a slugfest which saw the lead change hands several times, Sidelnikova hit an early arm drag then jumped to a gut wrench and managed a 4-0 lead. She tacked on another pair of quick takedowns before turning her Belarusian opponent to her back for the 10-1 advantage. This is where the match got interesting.
Sidelikova conceded a reversal and commanded the eight point lead, but a first-period Belarusian takedown followed by three leg lace exposures cut her lead to 10-10 on criteria.
In the second period, Sidelikova gave up a blast double and trailed by two points, but they traded a pair of takedowns and at the end the Russian trailed 14-12 with two minutes to go.
She hit a textbook arm drag to a double leg and dropped right into four leg laces and scored ten points in 20 seconds. She closed out the finals with arm drag to a double leg and won the match 24-14.
Like most at the Ufa Arena, Sidelinkova too was shocked at her after what transpired on the mat.
“I still can’t believe I am a world champion, I am shocked,” she said. “Honestly, I was a bit lost [in the final]. I thought the score was 12-2, then I checked the scoreboard and I saw 10-2, I was kind of lost, and Arina started scoring.”
Explaining her slip in concentration in the first period, she said that she was worn out. This is the second time she won over Martynava after claiming a final second victory at the junior European Championships earlier this year.
“I realized that I was worn out and she was too,” she said. “It was just about the strong character. Like earlier, we wrestled against each other and I got the win in last second”
Hailing from a little village in the Kemerovo region, Sidelinkova said that began wrestling because that was the only sport available for her. After fighting initial resistance from her mother, she continued excelling at it.
“Now she is definitely happy,” she said.
Alesia HETMANAVA (BLR) won the 55kg gold medal after a close final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
But Belarus did go home with a gold medal when Alesia HETMANAVA (BLR) won the 55kg title. Even through the blood leaking from her nose, the Belarussian's smile stretched from ear-to-ear after the one-point win over Kalmira BILIMBEK KYZY (KGZ) in the finals.
Bilimbek Kyzy struck first with a single to her Belarusian opponent’s right leg. But Hetmanava rebounded with a takedown of her own and gained the 2-2 criteria advantage heading into the second period.
In the second period, Hetmanava jammed a right side underhook and drove Bilimbek Kyzy out of bounds and gained the outright lead, 3-2. She stopped a Mongolian throw attempt and fell right into a trapped arm gut and extended her lead to 7-2.
Hetmanava surrendered a four-point throw but held onto the one-point victory and claimed her first world title. This also improved her head-to-head record over Bilimbek Kyzy after the two were tied 1-1 in their previous two competitions.
“It was all about my mindset, all about those people by my side,” Hetmanava said. “I know they believed in me till the very end. I knew I had to get that belt, because I deserve it.”
Hetmanava began wrestling at the age of nine years when her parents agreed to send her to a wrestling school.
Eight Different Nations Reach Finals
India and Moldova were the two most successful countries Thursday as they put two wrestlers each in the final but the remaining six wrestlers in the final were each from different countries.
Sweden, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, Germany and USA put one wrestler each in the finals of the Junior World Championships at the Ufa Arena.
A historic final beckons at 57kg when Aurora RUSSO (ITA) and Nilufar RAIMOVA (KAZ) face-off Friday. Russo will be aiming to become her country's first junior world champion in women's wrestling while Raimova will try to claim Kazakhstan's second-ever women's junior world title, 13 years since Elenora ABUTALIPOVA (KAZ) became the first gold medalist at the event in 2008.
Russo has been Italy's big hope in recent times and she justified the hype by making it to her first final of a World event. It was a close 2-1 win over junior Euros silver medalist Patrycja STRZELCZYK (POL) in the semifinal.
Raimova was involved in a scrappy semifinal against Elvira KAMALOGLU (TUR) but came out on top 4-2. Raimova needed a takedown to lead 4-2 and then defend everything that was thrown at her in the final 20 seconds of the bout.
At 53kg, Emma MALMGREN (SWE) put on a show to defeat Jaslynn GALLEGOS (USA) via fall. The USA wrestler had no answer to the strength of Malmgren and gave up four points on her attack. Then came a takedown to extend her lead to 6-0. Gallegos got a reversal but Malmgren went for a fireman carry before an exposure made it 10-0. It ended 12-1 when Gallegos shot was defended and Sweden got the two and the win.
Samoil and Sabyrbek Kyzy were in a see-saw battle but the Kyrgyzstan wrestler tried to get a big four pointer and ended up with Samoil on the top and got the pin.
The two young stars of their country were sure of putting their best effort Friday in the final.
“I have never seen the opponent from Sweden,” Samoil said. “I will need to prepare mentally."
Hailing from a small town of Kishinev in Moldova, Samoil said she does feel a little pressure from the expectations of the people.
Malmgren too said that she controlled well on the mat and can pull it off in the final against Samoil.
“I felt strong and I had control,” she said. “Last match was a little bit bad but I managed to control the whole match. I skipped the European Championships to give it my all at the Worlds.”
Kennedy BLADES (USA) won 11-0 over SANEH (IND) but it was her five-point throw that captured the attention of the crowd. Blades set it up in the first half with a go behind and then a beautiful arch-back which gave her five.
Blades is trying to become the fourth USA world champion in Ufa and said that she has been in a good mental state.
“It was fun and great to scrap and show the world what I can do,” Blades said. “Just being mentally tough and knowing that every match is going to be a fight and leave everything out there.”
She will wrestle Lilly SCHNEIDER (GER) who confirmed her first-ever international medal by beating Daniela TKACHUK (POL) 13-2 in the 72kg semifinal.
India's two finalists came at 62kg in Sanju DEVI (IND) and BHATERI (IND) at 65kg. Devi scored a come from behind win over Birgul SOLTANOVA (AZE). She tired out her opponent and scored three takedowns in the second period to win 8-5.
Her opponent in the final was Alina KASABIEVA (RUS) who was dominant in the semifinal against Korina BLADES (USA) for a 10-0 win. She scored exceptionally well from her single-leg attacks and Blades had no answer to them.
Bhateri will have a tougher challenge in her 65kg final as she faces senior European champion Irina RINGACI (MDA). Bhateri defeated Amina CAPEZAN (ROU) 2-2, thanks to a criteria because she had the final point.
Ringaci was in trouble in her semifinal against Viktoria VESSO (EST) as the Estonian did an arm spin for four and then an exposure. But Ringaci was good as ever and used a take down and leg lace to turn it around. In the second period she used a gut wrench to win 17-6. Ringaci avenged her loss from the junior Euros where Vesso won by technical superiority.
The Moldova star will be aiming to win her first junior world medal after finishing fifth at the last edition. Incidentally, she will be wrestling at her first-ever world final at any level.
“It’s my last year at the junior level and I didnt want to lose the chance to win the world title,” she said. “It’s the first time in my life that I will wrestle in the world’s final. When I was trailing, I was thinking that the most important thing was not to give up and to keep wrestling. I really wanted to win and go to the final.”
Results WW Medal Bouts
GOLD: Emily SHILSON (USA) df Enkhzul BATBAATAR (MGL), 10-0
BRONZE: SIMRAN (IND) df Natallia VARAKINA (BLR), 7-3
BRONZE: Zehra DEMIRHAN (TUR) df Natalia WALCZAK (POL), 10-0
GOLD: Alesia HETMANAVA (BLR) df Kalmira BILIMBEK KYZY (KGZ), 7-6
BRONZE: Munkhgerel MUNKHBAT (MGL) df Anastasiia IANDUSHKINA (RUS), via fall
BRONZE: SITO (IND) df Melda DERNEKCI (TUR), 11-0
GOLD: Anastasiia SIDELNIKOVA (RUS) df Aryna MARTYNAVA (BLR), 24-14
BRONZE: Madina AMAN (KAZ) df Anna Hella SZEL (HUN), via fall
BRONZE: Zhala ALIYEVA (AZE) df KUSUM (IND), 2-1
GOLD: Amit ELOR (USA) df Elizaveta PETLIAKOVA (RUS), 10-0
BRONZE: Zsuzsanna MOLNAR (SVK) df ARJU (IND), via injury default
BRONZE: Nesrin BAS (TUR) df Alina MIKLASHEUSKAYA (BLR), 10-0
GOLD: Kylie WELKER (USA) df BIPASHA (IND), 10-0
BRONZE: Kseniya DZIBUK (BLR) df Mariia SILINA (RUS), 4-1
BRONZE: Dilnaz MULKINOVA (KAZ) df Odbag ULZIIBAT (MGL), via fall
Results WW Semifinal Bouts
GOLD: Emma MALMGREN (SWE) vs Mihaela SAMOIL (MDA)
SF 1: Emma MALMGREN (SWE) df Jaslynn GALLEGOS (USA), 12-1
SF 2: Mihaela SAMOIL (MDA) df Aizhan SABYRBEK KYZY (KGZ), via fall
GOLD: Aurora RUSSO (ITA) vs Nilufar RAIMOVA (KAZ)
SF 1: Aurora RUSSO (ITA) df Patrycja STRZELCZYK (POL), 2-1
SF 2: Nilufar RAIMOVA (KAZ) df Elvira KAMALOGLU (TUR), 4-2
GOLD: Sanju DEVI (IND) vs Alina KASABIEVA (RUS)
SF 1: Sanju DEVI (IND) df Birgul SOLTANOVA (AZE), 8-5
SF 2: Alina KASABIEVA (RUS) df Korina BLADES (USA), 10-0
GOLD: BHATERI (IND) vs Irina RINGACI (MDA)
SF 1: BHATERI (IND) df Amina CAPEZAN (ROU), 2-2
SF 2: Irina RINGACI (MDA) df Viktoria VESSO (EST), 17-6
GOLD: Lilly SCHNEIDER (GER) vs Kennedy BLADES (USA)
SF 1: Lilly SCHNEIDER (GER) df Daniela TKACHUK (POL), 13-2
SF 2: Kennedy BLADES (USA) df SANEH (IND), 11-0