ISTANBUL (September 17) – Besik Kudukhov (RUS) claimed his fourth title at the senior wrestling world championships, while his finals opponent Franklin Gomez became Puerto Rico's first medal winner in the men's events at the world meet.
For Kudukhov, the meet was business as usual at 60kg, winning each of his five bouts by a 2-0 count, outscoring his opponents 21-2 and shutting out his last three opponents. The triumph was Kudukhov's third straight at 60kg, after collecting a complete set of medals – gold, silver, bronze – at 55kg.
Gomez, for his part, cut through a thicket of tough opponents before edging former silver and bronze world medalist Zelimkhan Huseynov (AZE) and Asia champion Dauren Zhumagaziev (KAZ) in the quarters and semifinals.
Gomez, largely unknown outside of the wrestling room at Michigan State University in the United States, became only the second wrestler from Puerto Rico to win a medal at the world championships after Mabel Fonzeca Ramirez won the bronze medal at the 2002 women's world meet.
Meanwhile, first-time world champions were crowned at 84kg and 96kg with Sharif Sharifov (AZE) edging veteran Ibragim Aldatov (UKR) and Reza Yazdani (IRI) getting a late double-leg takedown late in the third period against hometown favorite Serhat Balci (TUR).
Earlier in the day, Sharifov toppled Athens Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson (USA) in the second round, while defending champion Michail Ganev (BUL) and 2009 winner Zaurbek Sokhiev (UZB) went out in the round of 16.
At 96kg, another Athens gold medalist and four-time world champion, Khadshimourad Gatsalov (RUS), and defending champ Khetag Gazyumov (AZE) made unexpected exits in the third round. Gatsalov was tripped up by Beijing silver medalist Taimuraz Tigiev (KAZ) and Gazyumov struggled against Rouslan Sheikov (BLR).
Sheikov went on to collect his third bronze medal at the world championships, while denying Africa champion Sinivie Boltic (NGR) a chance to become Nigeria's first medalist in the men's events at the world meet.
Ifeoma Iheanacho (NGR), the country's first wrestling world medalist, won a pair of bronze medals at the 2009 and 2010 world meets at 67kg in women's freestyle.
60kg (47 entries)
F1 – Besik Kudukhov (RUS) df. Franklin Gomez (PUR), 2-0 (5-0=2:03, 1-0)
F3 – Kenichi Yumoto (JPN) df. Didier Pais (FRA), 2-0 (3-0, 2-0)
F3 – Dauren Zhumagaziev (KAZ) df. Malkhaz Zarkua (GEO), 2-1 (0-2, 2-0, 6-0)
SF – Kudukhov (RUS) df. Pais (FRA), 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
SF – Gomez (PUR) df. Zhumagaziev (KAZ), 2-1 (1x-1=last, 0-1, 3-0)
84kg (46 entries)
F1 – Sharif Sharifov (AZE) df. Ibragim Aldatov (UKR), 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
F3 – Dato Marsagishvili (GEO) df. Armands Svirbulis (LAT), 2-0 (6-0, 4-0)
F3 – Albert Saritov (RUS) df. Cael Sanderson (USA), 2-0 (1-0=2:09, 3-0=2:12)
SF – Aldatov (UKR) df. Svirbulis (LAT), 2-1 (0-2, 2-0, 4-1)
SF – Sharifov (AZE) df. Saritov (RUS), 2-0 (3-1, 4-3)
96kg (41 entries)
F1 – Reza Yazdani (IRI) df. Serhat Balci (TUR), 2-1 (4-0, 0-1, 1-0)
F3 – Rouslan Sheikov (BLR) df. Sinivie Boltic (NGR), 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
F3 – Jacob Varner (USA) df. Taimuraz Tigiyev (KAZ), 2-1 (0-3, 3-2, 2-1)
SF – Yazdani (IRI) df. Boltic (NGR), 2-0 (1-0, 8-1)
SF – Balci (TUR) df. Tigiyev (KAZ), 2-1 (0-2, 2-1, 2-1)