The first two Greco Roman weight classes are out of the way at the European OG Qualifier and one was a bit of a surprise.
Sanal Semenov (RUS) swooped into the tournament as evidence of Russia’s overall depth and beat highly-regarded Kristijan Fris (SRB, world no. 14) to capture gold. Both athletes qualified 59 kg for their respective countries by virtue of making the final.
Semenov would enter the match intent on tying up and pushing Fris around inside, something the Serbian had trouble contending with. There were almost two different speeds between the wrestlers at times, as Semenov was a ball of energy searching for every way possible to invite a mistake on the part of his opponent. Fris was not deterred; he would have a moment early in the first period where it looked like he was in on a scoring chance. But it was the work rate of the Russian that became his calling card all day long which stifled any of Fris’s attacks.
The end would come after a blitzing four-point lead for Semenov. The two re-set after Semenov found his target off the edge for exposure. Once back in par terre it all but over, as Semenov easily got his lock for a gut and rolled Fris twice to end the match at 8-0. Conventional wisdom might call this an upset, as Sanal has not been the same impression-maker as his brother. Today was a different story, and a striking reminder of the kind of depth Russia stacks on its roster, especially at the lower weights.
In the 66 kg weight division, it was one wrestler who has already experienced success at the international senior level and another who is just starting to climb the ranks. Tamas Lorincz (HUN, world no. 4) is a past Olympic silver medalist looking to add to his mantle. Shmagi Bolkvadze (GEO, world no. 12) is a Junior World champion intent on forging his own path. The most anticipated match-up of the day displayed the growth of Bolkvadze along with the savvy skill-set of his older opponent.
Bolkvadze tried to take it to Lorincz in the early going, clashing violently at times into the Hungarian in effort to snag any kind of opening. Lorincz kept his composure and began to gradually apply the pressure back. A seasoned veteran on the world stage, Lorincz deftly asserted control inside repeatedly and despite Bolkvadze’s apparent willingness to engage, was dinged for passivity. Lorincz would immediately use this chance for a gut attempt. He would get it for twice for four points. However, Georgia would challenge claiming offensive legs. The challenge would stand and the period would end 2-0 in favor of Lorincz.
The second period saw an uptick in Bolkvadze’s already considerable pace. He pushed and pulled and did his best to upset Lorincz’s timing but it wouldn’t work. As the action wore on, Bolkvadze’s effort gave him a sign of life, as he picked up a point on a fleeing-the-hold call. The following par terre chance would shine a light on his inexperience. Bolkvadze created too much space while forcing his lock, which allowed Lorincz to explode up and around for two. Up 4-1, all Lorincz had to do for the remaining minute was stay upright, which he did, denying all of Bolkvadze’s desperate attempts to make something happen. The final score, 4-1 for Lorincz.
Bolkvadze let it all out, giving every ounce of sweat that he could muster. It wasn’t enough, but it was nice to see. Lorincz was simply too familiar with the way the game is played and outfoxed his younger foe multiple times throughout, most significantly standing up, where Bolkvadze is an explosive opportunist.
The tournament continues tomorrow with 75 kg and 85 kg action kicking off at around 9:30am (Serbian time). If you need a refresher of on who to look out for, check this out. We will have summaries and coverage later on the day for those in the states. Also, follow our Twitter feed for updates and commentary.