#WrestleSofia Weight-to-Watch: 74kg
Friday, April 30, 2021 - 12:32 By Eric Olanowski
SOFIA, Bulgaria (April 30) --- One of the biggest questions coming into next week's (May 6-9) World Olympic Qualifier: Can Tajmuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) keep his hot streak alive and punch Slovakia’s ticket to the Olympic Games?
To do so, Salkazanov will have to reach the finals in one of the must-watch weight classes in Bulgaria, 74kg.
Last weekend, Salkazanov became the third Slovakian wrestler to win a European gold medal, and he did so by scoring improbable come-from-behind-wins against a two-time world champion, a world silver medalist and a U23 world champion.
Salkazanov ran through Switzerland’s Marc DIETSCHE in the opening round, then threw two-time world champion Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) to his back with less than 10 seconds left and won, 6-2. That set up a quarterfinals match against ’18 world silver medalist Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO). With a spot in the semifinals on the line, Salkazanov trailed Kentchadze, 5-0, but scored six unanswered points in the second period and upset the Georgian Tokyo Olympian, 6-5. He then erased a five-point deficit for a second consecutive match and moved into the finals with a surprising 6-5 win over tournament-favorite and Individual World Cup champion Razambek ZHAMALOV (RUS). In the finals, the Slovakian only needed five minutes to uproot Miroslav KIROV (BUL), 10-0 in the finals.
Salkazanov highlights the loaded 36-man bracket in Sofia that features a slew of world and Olympic medalists, including Olympic bronze medalist Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR) and world champion Hetik CABOLOV (SRB).
Rio bronze medalist Demirtas will be tasked with trying to book Turkey their fifth Olympic berth. He’s no stranger to being in this position. Demirtas was here in ’12 and ’16. He fell short in ’12 but got the job done and won gold at the Ulaan-Baatar Last Change Qualifier before running to a podium finish in Brazil.
On Wednesday, the IOC Executive Board accepted the application for a change of nationality for Hetik CABOLOV (SRB) -- formally known as Khetik TSABALOV (RUS).
Cabolov defeated two-time world champion Zaurbek SIDAKOV (RUS) in the ’20 Russian National semifinals but fell to Razambek Zhamalov in the finals – ending his hopes of representing Russia at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Shortly after that loss, he transferred to Serbia and competed for them at the ’21 European Championships. Cabolov had a wild back and forth match with Kentchadze but fell, 10-6, and dropped to a 14th-place finish.
Continental champions Ogbonna JOHN (NGR) (Africa), Arsalan BUDAZHAPOV (KGZ) (Asia) and Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR) (Europe) are also entered at the weight.
Two other dark horses to keep an eye on are Ali UMARPASHAEV (BUL) and Mitchell FINESILVER (ISR).
In his last showing, Ali UMARPASHAEV (BUL) reached the semifinals European Olympic Qualifier and was four minutes away from punching Bulgaria’s ticket to the Olympic Games. He led Avtantil Kentchazde 6-0 but got caught in a cradle and surrendered the fall.
Finsilver is coming off a bronze-medal finish at the European Championships. He won three matches and became Israel’s first European medalist since ’91.
Francisco de Deus KADIMA (ANG)
Jorge Ivan LLANO (ARG)
Arman ANDREASYAN (ARM)
Elias Lauofo VAOIFI (ASA)
Simon MARCHL (AUT)
Mahamedkhabib KADZIMAHAMEDAU (BLR)
Ali Pasha Ruslanovich UMARPASHAEV (BUL)
Jasmit Singh PHULKA (CAN)
Leon Juan Carlos PERALTA LANAS (CHI)
Nestor Joaquin TAFUR BARRIOS (COL)|
Julio Rafael RODRIGUEZ ROMERO (DOM)
Jonatan ALVAREZ DIAZ (ESP)
Aimar ANDRUSE (EST)
Nicolae COJOCARU (GBR)|
Georgios KOUGIOUMTSIDIS (GRE)
Murad KURAMAGOMEDOV (HUN)
Amit Kumar DHANKHAR (IND)
Mitchell Louis FINESILVER (ISR)
Mathayo Matonya MAHABILA (KEN)
Arsalan BUDAZHAPOV (KGZ)
Byungmin GONG (KOR)
Evgheni NEDEALCO (MDA)
Byambadorj BAT ERDENE (MGL)
Ogbonna Emmanuel JOHN (NGR)
Abdullrahman Ibrahim A IBRAHIM (QAT)
Zurab KAPRAEV (ROU)
Mohamed SESAY (SLE)
Malik Michael AMINE (SMR)
Hetik CABOLOV (SRB)
Marc DIETSCHE (SUI)
Tajmuraz Mairbekovic SALKAZANOV (SVK)
Alymuhammet OVEZMYRADOV (TKM)
Ayoub BARRAJ (TUN)
Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR)
Vasyl MYKHAILOV (UKR)