Greco News

2021 Grand Prix Zagreb Open: Fast Turnaround

Joe Rau -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

Two months ago, the Grand Prix Zagreb Open arrived on the calendar as the first Senior international Greco-Roman tournament since the pandemic began last March. Although many nations declined to participate — just as they would when the Individual World Cup unfolded in December — Zagreb still managed to pull off a well-run, athlete-focused event. They have become very efficient at that sort of thing in recent years, offering a presentation that blends user-friendly production with top-level competition.

And now they are back to do it again just eight weeks later.

There is a difference this time around. Several countries who were present in November are taking a pass, most notably Bulgaria, France, Hungary, and Azerbaijan. The absence of France is a logical development given that their own tournament, the Henri Deglane Challenge, also takes place this weekend (which is where Azerbaijan will be). Turkey has split their athletes for both locations, as have Poland. The one item Deglane, from an international perspective, might hold over Zagreb is that the Georgians are set for involvement in Nice. However– Zagreb is expected to host over 160 competitors, while France’s preliminary list is well below 100.

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Two-time World Team member and ’21 Olympic Trials finalist Joe Rau (87 kg, TMWC/IRTC, world #7, 5PM #2) is the only American who will suit up in Croatia. As had been reported previously, a healthy delegation of US athletes will wrestle in Nice on Sunday. For his part, Rau is on the last leg of a prolonged multi-national stay in Europe. He first touched down in Belgium last month and made his way over to France for training. The 29-year-old then hopped over to Sweden on January 2 for more work, and now he is in Croatia preparing for his first tournament of the year. Zagreb is also not new to Rau. He won the event in ’15 and finished second a year later (at 80 and 98 kg, respectively).

Rau In Good Company

Rau’s weight category of 87 kilograms at press time consists of 23 entrants, including two-time World Champion/’16 Olympic silver Zhan Belenyuk (UKR, world #2) and ’18 Euro bronze Zakarias Berg (SWE), as well as two-time U23 World champ/’20 European Championships gold Semyon Novikov (UKR, world #12). Belenyuk and Novikov are not anticipated to be in competition with each other for Ukraine’s spot in the bracket come Tokyo, though that could presumably change. Novikov has spent the majority of his young career at 87 thus far and impressed with his win at the Euros last February. Belenyuk turns 30 later this month and has not entered a tournament dating back to his triumph in Nur-Sultan.

Zagreb By The Numbers

Ten athletes competing this weekend won or placed at the fall edition of the Zagreb GP. They are (in order of weight class):

  • Victor Ciobanu (MDA) — silver, 60 kg
  • Ardit Fazlijia (SWE) — bronze, 60 kg
  • Donior Islamov (MDA) — gold, 67 kg
  • Valentin Petic (MDA) — silver, 72 kg
  • Daniel Cataraga (MDA) — gold, 77 kg
  • Alexandrin Gutu (MDA) — silver, 77 kg
  • Lukas Ahlgren (SWE) — bronze, 77 kg
  • Alex Kessidis (SWE) — bronze, 82 kg
  • Oskar Johansson (SWE) — gold, 87 kg
  • Pontus Lund (SWE) — bronze, 97 kg

In total, there are 12 athletes currently registered who boast at least one (Senior) World or Olympic medal on their resumes.

  • Ciobanu — ’18 World silver
  • Lenur Temirov (UKR) — ’18 World bronze
  • Stig-Andre Berge (NOR) — ’16 Olympic silver, ’14 World bronze
  • Elmurat Tasmuradov (UZB) — ’16 Olympic bronze, ’18 World silver, 2X World bronze
  • Matuesz Bernatek (POL) — ’17 World silver
  • Gevorg Sahakyan (POL) — ’18 World bronze
  • Edgaras Venckaitis (LTU) — ’14 World bronze
  • Aram Vardanyan (UZB) — ’19 World silver
  • Jagalsbay Berdimuratov (UZB) — ’19 World bronze
  • Cataraga  — ’16 World silver
  • Kessidis — ’19 World silver
  • Belenyuk — 2X World Champion, ’16 Olympic silver, ’18 World silver

Participation Breakdown

  • 164 total athletes listed.
  • 18 countries.
  • +2 kg allowance

Grand Prix Zagreb Open

January 16-17 — Zagreb, CRO

Schedule & Streaming Info

All times +6 hours EST.

Saturday, January 16
10:30am-7:00pm — Qualification rounds through semifinals

Sunday, January 17
10:30am-2:00pm — Repechage round(s) through bronze-medal matches
7:00pm-9:00pm — Finals

There are two ways for users to watch the 2021 Grand Prix Zagreb Open, though all streams will be broadcast on YouTube. The first is to simply navigate to the official event page where the streams are located. By going to the official Zagreb page, fans can watch all three mats at once on a desktop or laptop without having to open another window.

Or viewers can simply click on the links below for specific mats.

Mat A
Mat B
Mat C

55 kg

Ilkhom Bakhromov (UZB) — ’20 Asian Championships gold
Artiom Deleanu (MDA)
Steven Ecker (GER)
Giovanni Freni (ITA, world #18)
Snorre Lund (NOR)
Fabian Schmitt (GER) — ’19 European Championships bronze
Jasurbek Ortikboev (UZB) — ’20 Asian Championships silver

60 kg

Islomjon Bakhramov (UZB, world #4) — ’20 Asian Championships gold
Alexander Bica (SWE)
Dawid Ersetic (POL)
Ardit Fazlijia (SWE) — ’16 Thor Masters bronze, ’17 Junior European Championships silver
Jusso Latvala (FIN)
Ivan Lizatovic (CRO, world #13) — ’17 European Championships bronze, two-time Hungarian Grand Prix bronze
Alessio Paolo (ITA)
Justas Petravicius (LTU)
Luka Prihstal (CRO)
Jacopo Sandron (ITA)
Andrea Setti (ITA)
Lenur Temirov (UKR, world #8, world #17 at 63 kg) — ’18 World bronze, ’20 European Championships bronze
Firuz Tukhtaev (UZB)
Michal Tracz (POL)
Ahemt Uyar (TUR)
Mukhammadkodir Yusupov (UZB)

63 kg

Stig-Andre Berge (NOR, world #4) — ’16 Olympic bronze, ’14 World bronze
Dominik Celicek (CRO)
Victor Ciobanu (MDA) — ’18 World silver
Peric Dimitrijevic (SRB)
Andrej Ginc (GER)
Deniz Menekse (GER)
Niklas Ohlen (SWE)
Elmurat Tasmuradov (UZB, world #11, world #7 at 60 kg) — ’16 Olympic bronze, ’18 World silver, 2X World bronze

67 kg

Makhmud Bakhshiloev (UZB, world #6)
Enes Basar (TUR)
Francisco Bellino (ITA)
Mateusz Bernatek (POL) — ’17 world silver
Donior Islamov (MDA)
Haci Karakus (TUR)
Witalis Lazovski (GER)
Elmer Mattil (FIN)
Steve Momila (ITA)
Parviz Nasibov (UKR) — ’18 Junior World bronze
Roman Pacurkowski (POL)
Valentin Petic (MDA)
Artur Politaev (UKR)
Mirzobek Rakhmatov (UZB)
Marvice Ruben (ITA)
Gevorg Sahakyan (POL, world #13) — ’18 World bronze
Daniel Soini (SWE)
Morten Thoresen (NOR, world #9) — ’20 European Championships gold
Edgaras Venckaitis (LTU) — ’14 World bronze
Andreas Vetsch (SUI)

72 kg

Sebastian Aak (NOR)
Idris Ibaev (GER)
Titas Kersevicius (LTU)
Marko Nikolic (CRO)
Mikko Peltokangas (FIN)
Mihai Petic (MDA)
Michael Portmann (SUI)
Luigi Rinaldi (ITA)
Didrik Silverin (SWE)
Kristupas Sleiva (LTU, world #16 at 67 kg) — ’20 European Championships bronze
Aram Vardanyan (UZB, world #2) — ’19 World silver
Ahmet Yilmaz (TUR)
Akseli Yli-Hannuksela (FIN)

77 kg

Riccardo Abbrescia (ITA)
Lukas Ahlgren (SWE)
Edgar Babayan (POL)
Furkan Bayrak (TUR) — ’14 Junior World Champion
Jagalsbay Berdimuratov (UZB, world #8, world #6 at 82 kg) — ’19 World bronze
Jakub Bielesz (CZE)
Daniel Cataraga (MDA) — 2X U23 World Champion, ’16 World silver
Nicolas Christen (SUI)
Luca Dariozzi (ITA)
Fabio Dietsche (SUI)
Yaroslav Filchakov (UKR)
Paulius Galkinas (LTU, world #12)
Alexandrin Gutu (MDA) — ’18 Cadet World Champion, ’19 Cadet World bronze
Antonio Kamenjasevic (CRO)
Per Anders Kure (NOR)
Dawid Klimek (POL)
Matias Lipasti (FIN)
Matteo Maffezzoli (ITA)
Iwan Nylypiuk (POL)
Albin Olofsson (SWE)
Pavel Puklavec (CRO) — ’19 Junior European Championships bronze
Roni Purolainen (FIN)
Bozo Starcevic (CRO) — ’16 Olympian, ’13 European Championships bronze, five-time Zagreb Grand Prix gold
Oldrich Varga (CZE)
Michael Widmayer (GER)
Mateusz Wolny (POL)
Volodymer Yakovlev (UKR, world #17)
Yasaf Zeinalov (UKR)

daniel cataraga

’16 World bronze/2X U23 World Champion Daniel Cataraga (red) won the fall ’20 edition of the Grand Prix Zagreb Open by defeating fellow Moldovan and ’18 Cadet World champ Alexandrin Gutu. (Photo: Jaap Arriens)

82 kg

Rajbek Bisultanov (DEN) — ’18 U23 World silver, ’19 European Championships gold
Antun Borcic (CRO)
Marius Braun (GER)
Magnus Gronvik (NOR)
Alex Kessidis (SWE, world #2 at 77 kg) — ’19 World silver, ’17 U23 European Championships gold, ’19 European Games bronze, ’20 European Championships bronze
Vjekoslav Luburic (CRO) — ’19 U23 World silver
Arminas Lygnugaris (LTU)
Simon Ollinger (GER)
Leon Rivalta (ITA)
Filip Sacic (CRO)
Hannes Wagner (GER)
Marc Weber (SUI)

87 kg

Zakarias Berg (SWE) — ’18 European Championships bronze, ’17 U23 European Championships gold
Zhan Belenyuk (UKR, world #2) — 2X World Champion, ’16 Olympic silver, ’18 World silver
Ramon Betschart (SUI)
Turpal Bisultanov (DEN)
Ali Cengiz (TUR) — ’15 Junior World Champion
Simone Fidelbo (ITA)
Dogan Goktas (TUR)
Vladislav Gutu (MDA)
Tomislav Hader (CRO)
Oskar Johansson (SWE)
Gabriel Lupasco (MDA)
Matej Mandic (CRO)
Julius Matuzevicius LTU)
Mirco Minguzzi (ITA)
Martynas Nemesevicius (LTU)
Petr Novak (CZE)
Semyon Novikov (UKR, world #12) — 2X U23 World Champion, ’20 European Championships gold
Ilias Pagkalidis (GRE)
Juho Pahikainen (FIN)
Josef Rau (USA, world #7) — ’20 Pan-American Championships gold, ’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier gold
Vili Ropponen (FIN)
Filip Smetko (CRO)
Aleksandar Stjepanetic (SWE)

97 kg

Mathias Bak (DEN)
Felix Baldauf (NOR, world #15) — ’17 European Championships gold, ’19 European Games silver
Nikola Conar (CRO)
Ondrej Dadak (CZE)
Nikoloz Kakhelashvili (ITA, world #5) — ’15 Junior World Champion, ’20 European Championships silver
Leon Kessidis (GRE)
Ilja Klasner (GER)
Vladlen Kozliuk (UKR)
Matt Kuosmanen (FIN) — ’17 U23 World silver
Vilius Laurinaitis (LTU)
Pontus Lund (SWE)
Tadeusz Michalik (POL, world #6)
Patrick Neumaier (GER)
Artur Omarov (CZE, world #8)
Ivan Ratkovic (CRO)
Arvi Savolainen (FIN) — ’19 U23 World Champion, ’18 Junior World Champion
Luca Svaicari (ITA)
Ibrahim Tigci (TUR)
Jahongir Turdiev (UZB) — ’19 Asian Championships silver
Marcus Worren (NOR)
Christian Zemp (SUI)
Jan Zirn (GER)

130 kg

Muminjon Abdullaev (UZB, world #4) — 2X Asian Championships silver
Muhammet Bakir (TUR)
Aleksandar Chernetskyy (UKR)
Stepan David (CZE)
Romas Fridrikas (LTU)
Luca Godino (ITA)
Mantas Knystautas (LTU)
Jello Krahmer (GER, world #19) — ’17 U23 World bronze, ’20 European Championships bronze
Rafal Krajewski (POL)
Mykola Kuchmii (UKR, world #16) — ’20 European Championships bronze
Konsta Maenpaa (FIN)
Oskar Marvik (NOR)
Franz Richter (GER)
Samuele Varicelli (ITA)
Damion Von Euw (SUI)
Osman Yildirim (TUR) — ’18 U23 World silver, ’19 U23 World bronze

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