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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    2020 Olympic Preview: Men's Freestyle (57, 65, 74kg)

    Thomas Gilman (left) and Kyle Dake (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    Over the next six days, we will bring you weight class previews for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Each preview will include three Olympic weights. They will highlight notable past achievements of the competitors in each weight, the American entry, and what to look for during the competition. Today we'll move on to the men's freestyle portion of the competition and study the first three weights (57, 65, 74 kg).

    If you missed our earlier previews, they are below.

    Women's Part One (50, 53, 57kg)

    Women's Part Two (62, 68, 76kg)

    Greco-Roman Part One (60, 67, 77kg)

    Greco-Roman Part Two (87, 97, 130kg)

    57 kg Men's Freestyle

    Gulomyon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan) -

    Suleyman Atli (Turkey) - 2x World Medalist, 2x European Champion, 2013 Junior World Champion

    Reza Atrinagharchi (Iran) - 2019 World fifth-place, 2019 Asian Champion

    Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia) - 2x World Bronze Medalist, 2015 Asian Champion

    Arsen Harutyunyan (Armenia) - 2020 European Bronze Medalist, 2x Junior World Bronze Medalist

    Diamantino Iuna Fafe (Guinea-Bissau) - 2020 Africian Silver Medalist

    Ravi Kumar (India) - 2019 World Bronze Medalist, 2x Asian Champion

    Abdelhak Kherbache (Algeria) - 3x Africian Champion

    Minghu Liu (China) - 2018 U23 World Bronze Medalist, 2019 Asian Silver Medalist

    Stevan Micic (Serbia) - 2019 World fifth-place, 2x European Bronze Medalist

    Nurislam Sanayev (Kazakhstan) - 2x World Medalist, 2018 Asian Champion

    Yuki Takahashi (Japan) - 2017 World Champion, 2x World Medalist, 2017 Asian Champion

    Oscar Tigreros Urbano (Colombia) - 2x Pan-American Silver Medalist

    Zavur Uguev (Russia) - 2x World Champion, 2018 European Silver Medalist

    Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria) - 2016 European Bronze Medalist

    The Seeds

    1) Micic

    2) Uguev

    3) Atli

    4) Kumar

    The American Entry

    Thomas Gilman - Thomas Gilman is back on the world scene! Gilman made the world team in 2017, just a few months removed from the conclusion of his collegiate career at Iowa. That year he captured a world silver medal. In 2018, Gilman made a second world team and fell in a bronze medal match. He would fall short in 2019, after getting edged two-matches-to one to Daton Fix at Final X Lincoln. In the months that followed, Gilman decided to leave Iowa in order to train at Penn State's Nittany Lion Wrestling Club.

    Since Fix did not wrestle for a medal in 2019, the weight needed qualifying at the 2020 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. Gilman was given the duty and was victorious in the quarterfinals over Reineri Ortega (Cuba), his most formidable opponent of the event. After defeating Ortega, Gilman scored a tech fall in the semis and clinched a place at the Games for Team USA.

    The next step for Gilman was making the team, himself. Gilman earned a place in the Trials finals by teching Zane Richards and former World bronze medalist Joe Colon. To lock up the Olympic bid, Gilman swept a best-of-three series against Cornell All-American Vito Arujau. Gilman pinned Arujau in the first bout, then prevailed via criteria, 2-2. After the Trials, Gilman suffered a minor injury and has been held out of action.

    Number of Senior World/Olympic Champions: 2 (Takahashi, Uguev)

    Number of Senior World/Olympic Medalists: 7 (Atli, Erdenebat, Gilman, Kumar, Sanayev, Takahashi, Uguev)

    A gold medal at the World Championships in 2018 solidified Zavur Uguev's spot at this weight class. He proved he was the real deal and a moderate favorite to win Olympic gold by repeating in 2019. Uguev heads into Tokyo as the second seed. The top seed belongs to Michigan's three-time All-American Stevan Micic, who represents Serbia. Provided seeds hold up, Micic could get a test in the semis from 2019 World bronze medalist Ravi Kumar, the fourth seed. 2017 world champion Yuki Takahashi and Nurislam Sanayev are two unseeded wrestlers that have legitimate gold medal aspirations. Provided he is healthy, Gilman should throw himself into the mix of title contenders, as well.

    65 kg Men's Freestyle

    Arnazar Akhmataliev (Kyrgyzstan) -

    Haji Aliev (Azerbaijan) - 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 3x World Champion, 3x European Champion

    Haitem Dakhlaoui (Tunisia) - 2020 African Champion

    Agustin Destribates (Argentina) - 2x Pan-American Bronze Medalist

    Adama Diatta (Senegal) - 9x African Champion, 2x Olympian

    Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland) - 2x World Medalist, 2x European Champion

    Morteza Ghiasi Cheka (Iran) - 2021 Asian Bronze Medalist

    Ismail Muszukajev (Hungary) - 2019 World Bronze Medalist, 2013 Junior World Silver Medalist

    Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan) - 2019 World Silver Medalist, 2012 Olympic fifth-place, 3x Asian Champion

    Takuto Otoguro (Japan) - 2018 World Champion, 2x Asian Champion, 2015 Cadet World Champion

    Georgios Pilidis (Greece) - 2x Cadet World Silver Medalist

    Bajrang Punia (India) - 3x World Medalist, 2x Asian Champion

    Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia) - 2019 World Champion, 3x World Medalist, 2x European Champion

    Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia) - 2020 Individual World Cup Champion

    Tulga Tumur-Ochir (Mongolia) - 2019 World fifth-place

    Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba) - 2x World Medalist, 2019 Pan-American Champion

    The Seeds

    1) Rashidov

    2) Punia

    3) Niyazbekov

    4) Muszukajev (Hungary)

    The American Entry

    None - 65/66 kg has been difficult for the Americans since Bill Zadick's world title in 2006. Despite having remarkable collegiate superstars at the weight, no American has won a world medal at the Olympics or Worlds since Zadick.

    Zain Retherford made his second world team in 2019, but bowed out of the World Championships in 26th place. Retherford then was tasked with qualifying the weight in Ottawa at the Pan-American Qualifier in early 2020. He wasn't able to do as and was shocked by Agustin Destribates, who pinned him in the semifinals.

    At the Olympic Trials, it was Jordan Oliver who prevailed and captured the championship at 65 kg. Oliver had long been near the top of the heap at the weight, but had yet to have made a World/Olympic team. Less than a month after the Trials, Oliver went to Bulgaria to attempt to qualify the weight for Tokyo. Oliver was stopped in the semifinals by former World medalist Magomedmurad Gadzhiev, who was able to stymie Oliver's offense for the bulk of the bout.

    Number of Senior World/Olympic Champions: 3 (Aliev, Otoguro, Rashidov)

    Number of Senior World/Olympic Medalists: 8 (Aliev, Gadzhiev, Muszukajev, Niyazbekov, Otoguro, Punia, Rashidov, Valdes Tobier)

    65 kg is probably the most wide-open weight class at the Olympic Games, at least on the men's freestyle side. The Russian, 2019 world champion Ghadzimurad Rashidov, is the favorite and the top seed, but there's a plethora of others that could win on their best day. Takuto Otoguro won a title the year before and is still in his prime. Speaking of primes, Haji Aliev is probably past his, but is dangerous in a single match setting, though his best results have come at 61 kg. The always-entertaining Bajrang Punia and Ismail Muszukajev are both capable. The two tend to shine at opposite times, Punia at the end of matches, while Muszukajev is best in the early going. The other seeded (3rd) wrestler at this weight is also a returning world silver medalist in Daulet Niyazbekov. A wild card here could be Armenia's Vazgen Tevanyan, who should be considered a contender after winning a 2020 Individual World Cup bracket that included Muszukajev, Rashidov, and Aliev.

    74 kg Men's Freestyle

    Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Uzbekistan) - 2x World Bronze Medalist, 2x Asian Champion

    Frank Chamizo (Italy) - 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2x World Champion, 3x World Medalist, 4x European Champion

    Khadzimurad Gadzhiev (Azerbaijan) - 2018 Junior World Champion

    Geandry Garzon Caballero (Cuba) - 4x World Medalist

    Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico) - 2011 World Silver Medalist, 2x Olympian, 2011 Pan-American Champion

    Moustafa Hosseinkhani (Iran) - 2016 World Bronze Medalist, 2x Asian Champion

    Amr Hussein (Egypt) - 2019 African Champion

    Mahmedkhabib Kadzimahamedau (Belarus) - 2020 European Champion

    Daniar Kaisanov (Kazakhstan) - 2019 World Bronze Medalist, 2x Asian Champion

    Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia) - 2018 World Silver Medalist, 2019 European Bronze Medalist

    Augusto Midana (Guinea-Bissau) - 3x Olympian, 6x African Champion

    Vasil Mykhailov (Ukraine) -

    Keisuke Otoguro (Japan) -

    Kamil Rybicki (Poland) -

    Zaurbek Sidakov (Russia) - 2x World Champion

    The Seeds

    1) Chamizo

    2) Kaisanov

    3) Sidakov

    4) Hosseinkhani

    The American Entry

    Kyle Dake - Finally, Kyle Dake toppled Jordan Burroughs and made the Olympic Team. Dake and Burroughs had met in World Team Trials on three previous occasions and in 2017, he was dangerously close to dethroning the king. Four year later, Dake did the deed and dropped Burroughs 3-0 and 3-2 in two consecutive bouts.

    Dake moved up from the non-Olympic weight, 79 kg, a class he had dominated since its inception. He won world championships in 2018 and 2019 at the weight. During his run to the 2018 world title, Dake outscored his competition 37-0.

    During the Covid Pandemic in 2020, Dake was able to compete in a one-off event where he defeated the top-seed, Frank Chamizo. While another win over Chamizo is certainly possible, maybe even probable, both were not in top form for the match.

    Number of Senior World/Olympic Champions: 3 (Chamizo, Dake, Sidakov)

    Number of Senior World/Olympic Medalists: 9 (Abdurakhmonov, Chamizo, Dake, Garzon Caballero, Gomez, Hosseinkhani, Kaisanov, Kentchadze, Sidakov)

    It will be a shocker if anyone outside the big three of Chamizo, Dake, and Zaurbek Sidakov comes away with the gold medal. Each of this trio currently had a pair of world championships on their resume. Only Chamizo has competed at the Olympics before. He took bronze in 2016 at 65 kg, by defeating American Frank Molinaro. Watch the bracketing here as Dake will come in unseeded, though the other two are on opposite sides. While we only see one of three wrestlers coming away with the gold, a handful of others could challenge for bronze. After the Chamizo/Dake/Sidakov triumvirate, there are six others in the bracket that own world medals. Two notables that American fans will remember are Clarion All-American Bekzod Abdurakhmanov and Franklin Gomez, an NCAA Champion from Michigan State.

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