Russian and Azerbaijani wrestlers go out with a golden bang
Athletes from Russia and Azerbaijan confirmed their status as wrestling’s big hitters on the final day of competition in Nanjing.
With the men’s freestyle medal bouts ending the show at the Longjiang Gymnasium on 27 August, Ismail Gadzhiev won a fourth gold for Russia in a low-scoring 46kg final.
The 16-year-old held his opponent Cade Olivas (USA) at bay to win 3-1 and then said he was inspired by his team-mates’ success.
“The three other gold medals were a motivation for me,” Gadzhiev said. “My opponent was strong. When I was leading 3-1, my main goal was not to let anything happen.
“There were 10-15 seconds left and I had seen that in other bouts four points were lost. I did not want this happen to me.”
Gadzhiev, nicknamed “the Black Panther”, had doubtless been inspired by Cabbar Duyum (TUR), who clinched the bronze medal in this category, scoring the decisive points in the last seconds of the match.
Mukhambet Kuatbek (KAZ) had led Daton Fix (USA) 6-1 after the first period of the 54kg final but the American rallied and closed the gap to 5-6 with less than a minute to go.
Both gained another point in the last 10 seconds, giving Kuatbek a 7-6 win and leaving Fix visibly distraught.
“I had vowed that I would win and the flag of Kazakhstan would be raised,” said 17-year-old Kuatbek. “This medal is not only for me, it is for Kazakhstan.”
The 76kg medallists, Yamasaki (centre), Simonia (left) and Hovsepyan
“He was a tough opponent but I was well prepared and ready for victory,” the 17-year-old said. “This will push me on a lot, everything is still to come for me.”
Japan’s Yajuro Yamasaki dominated the 76kg final against Georgia’s Meki Simonia, winning 10-0 shortly before the end of the four minutes of match time.
Igbal Hajizada won a third wrestling gold for Azerbaijan by overcoming Dmitri Ceacusta of Moldova 5-1 in the 100kg.
“I prepared mentally very well,” Hajizada said. “It was a question of principle for me to win, because I had lost against him [Ceacusta] at the World Championships. I got my revenge.”