Iran, Uzbekistan among big winners at Asia's Olympic wrestling qualifier


Almaty, Kazakhstan, April 12, 2021: Iran and Uzbekistan were the big winners on the final day of the Asian wrestling Olympic Qualifiers on Sunday, picking up three and four berths respectively in the men’s freestyle lineup at the Tokyo showpiece.

Iran’s Amir Mohammad Yazdani, Yones Emami and Mohamed Hossein Mohammadian picked up their tickets by advancing to the finals in their respective weight categories. 

Uzbekistan, led by Rio 2016 Olympics bronze medallist Magomed Ibragimov in the men’s 97kg, grabbed four berths for Tokyo.

A total of 36 Olympic berths were available at the Almaty Asian Qualifiers from April 8-11. A total of nine National Olympic Committees won quotas in the men’s freestyle, men’s Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle events. Each competition was split into six weight categories with the finalists in each winning a quota.

Quota places are allocated to the respective NOC and not to the athlete. All those who missed out have one last chance to make the cut for the 2021 Tokyo Games at the World Olympic Qualifiers, to be held in Bulgaria from May 6-9.

For the successful Iranian wrestlers, earning the Olympic slot is only the start. Now they have to go through a tough national trial selection process to fill the spots.

“I will go back to Iran and the coaches will decide the team,” Yazdani said. “I have to be the best.”

Having secured an Olympic berth for his country, Yazdani had to settle for the silver medal, however, with Kyrgyzstan’s Ernazar Akmataliev defeating him in the final 15-13.

Iran’s 97kg fighter Mohammadian also knows that, though he has opened the door to the Olympics, he is not through yet.

“I have to go back to Iran and have a trial and there are two very good wrestlers back home,” he said. “The coaches will decide the team for Tokyo. I definitely want to go there.”

India’s teenage female wrestlers Anshu Malik (57kg) and Sonam Malik (62kg) also won tickets to Tokyo in Almaty. They will join senior pro Vinesh Phogat (53kg) who had previously qualified in the women’s freestyle competition. India now have seven wrestlers qualified for the upcoming Games, including men’s freestyle competitors Bajrang Punia (65kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg).

Asian Wrestling Tokyo Olympic qualifying results, Almaty.

China – 6 (Men’s freestyle 2, Men’s Greco-Roman 2, Women’s freestyle 2)

India – 2 (Women’s freestyle 2)

Iran – 5 (Men’s freestyle 3, Men’s Greco-Roman 2)

Japan – 2 (Men’s Greco-Roman 1, Women’s freestyle 1)

Kazakhstan – 3 (Men’s freestyle 1, Men’s Greco-Roman 1, Women’s freestyle 1)

Kyrgyzstan – 6 (Men’s freestyle 1, Men’s Greco-Roman 3, Women’s freestyle 2)

Mongolia – 5 (Men’s freestyle 1, Women’s freestyle 4)

Korea – 2 (Men’s Greco-Roman 2)

Uzbekistan – 5 (Men’s freestyle 4, Men’s Greco-Roman 1)