Author: Nadir SANANOGHLU
Azerbaijani wrestlers greeted this year with an international tournament in France. At the Grand Prix dedicated to the memory of Henri Deglane, our wrestlers won a total of 13 medals.
Good results of freestylers
The competition started with freestyle fights, who received 5 medals (2 silver and 3 bronze) after the finals.
Giorgi Edisherashvili and Mahir Amiraslanov (both 57 kg) could not meet expectations of their fans. Islam Bazarganov, who has joined the competition after the quarter-finals, made it to semifinals by defeating his Romanian counterpart in the first period. In a tense fight with an American wrestler, Islam was stronger and reached the final. But then he lost to another American wrestler and received a silver medal.
Turan Bayramov (65 kg) left no chances to his French opponent in his first fight. In the quarter-finals, in a tense fight with a Moldovan athlete, Turan made it to the semifinals thanks to the last point. One step away from the final round of the competition, Bayramov lost to the world’s second best wrestler from the US. Then he again defeated the French athlete, becoming the bronze medallist of the Grand Prix.
In the first fight, Hajimurad Hajiyev (74 kg) won a landslide victory over his Swiss opponent, while Hajimurad Omarov failed in the opening with his counterpart from Israel. Joshgun Azimov won an early victory over the Swiss wrestler in the 1/8 finals. Also, Hajiyev reached the semifinals after defeating a Moldovan athlete, while Azimov reached the semifinals after touche with another Moldovan wrestler. However, in the semifinals, both Azerbaijani wrestlers lost to their rivals. Hajiyev won a bronze medal easily defeating an athlete from Germany. Azimov was ranked fifth, losing to an Israeli wrestler.
Abubakr Abakarov (86 kg) lost in the opening to his opponent from Russia. In a comforting bout, he hardly defeated the wrestler from Poland, but was stronger than the Swiss athlete in the fight for the bronze medal.
Due to a small number of athletes in the 92 kg category, a round robin system was applied. In the first fight, Osman Nurmagomedov won a complete victory over his opponent from Georgia. Then he won an early victory against a wrestler from Germany. He failed in the next fight to an athlete from Poland, but defeated the Swiss athlete nevertheless. As a result, with three victories in his asset, Nurmagomedov was ranked the second and received a silver medal of the tournament.
In the 97 kg category, the competition was held in groups. In the first meeting, Sharif Sharifov lost to a Georgian athlete. But then he easily defeated the Romanian wrestler. Unfortunately, our world and European champion, a champion of the Olympic Games could not continue the fight due to the injury.
The first competition of freestyle wrestlers led by the new head coach of the national team Namig Abdullayev may be considered encouraging. In fact, the team is approaching the generation change stage. After the Tokyo Olympics, the team is expected to have new names in most of the weight categories.
Greco-Roman wrestlers were more successful
Greco-Roman wrestlers performed more successfully in Nice. In group A, Murad Mammadov (60 kg) showed full advantage over his Spaniard counterpart at the very beginning of the first round. It only took him two minutes to defeat the wrestler from Portugal and reach the semifinals as the leader of the group. In Group B, Murad Bazarov demonstrated his strength in the opening to an Armenian wrestler representing Spain. In the next meeting, Murad lost to a Turkish athlete and moved to the semifinals from second place in the group stage of the tournament. One step away from the final, our wrestlers had to fight each other, with Mammadov defeating Bazarov, who won against the Spanish wrestler and was awarded a bronze medal. Mammadov, who lost to his counterpart, became a silver medallist of the tournament.
Namaz Rustamov (67 kg) joined the fight after the quarter-finals, lost to a local athlete with a minimal advantage. Islambek Dadov (67 kg) made it to the semifinals with an early victory over the Turkish athlete representing France. But one step away from the final, he lost to another French wrestler. In a comforting bout, Dadov defeated the representative of Austria. Leaving no chance to his Spanish counterpart in the next fight, Dadov became the winner with a bronze medal.
Sanan Suleymanov won a convincing victory over his opponent from Georgia at the first stage. After defeating an Armenian wrestler from France, Suleymanov reached the semifinals, where he lost to a Turkish athlete by points. In another bout, where he defeated a Georgian wrestler, Sanan received a bronze medal.
Another Azerbaijani athlete Rafig Huseynov easily defeated the representative of Austria in the first bout. After defeating a Turkish wrestler in the second bout, Huseynov reached the semifinals as the winner of Group B. After knocking out another representative of Turkey, our two-time European champion became the silver medallist of the tournament, after losing to another Turkish representative by the last point.
Islam Abbasov in the first bout won against his Georgian counterpart, followed by a victory over a Dutch athlete. Abbasov reached the final stage after a strong win against an American wrestler in the semifinals. Abbasov also defeated a Turkish wrestler in the final bout and was ranked the strongest wrestler in his category.
In his first bout in Group A, Murad Lokyaev won an early victory over the representative of France. The same success waited for against the wrestler from Poland in the next bout. After defeating the Austrian athlete, Lokyaev reached the semifinals as the leader of his group. After defeating another Austrian athlete, Abbasov was qualified for the final stage of the tournament. But he failed to the wrestler from Georgia and finished his performance as a silver medallist.
Sabah Shariati lost to the wrestler from Chile in his first bout. Then the bronze medallist of the Rio Olympics won with a minimal advantage over his Georgian opponent, also becoming a silver medallist of the tournament.
8 of 9 Greco-Roman wrestlers from the national team of Azerbaijan were awarded 1 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals of the Nice Grand Prix. With 160 points, our team became the 2nd strongest team of the tournament.
Performance of the national team in the Nice tournament can be considered successful. Despite the injuries, our athletes achieved a good result with 13 medals in Nice.
However, this success should not overshadow the existing problems in the team. It should also be noted that athletes from many countries, including some renowned names, have not attended the French tournament due to the pandemic.