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  • Photo: UWW

    Photo: UWW

    Tokyo Watch - 50 Profiles in 50 Days: Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia)

    2020 World Cup champion Vazgen Tevanyan (Photo courtesy of UWW)

    As of today, we under 50 days from the start of wrestling at the Olympic Games. Over the next 50 days, we'll bring you one profile per day of a decorated international contender. Make sure you get to know the wrestlers that Team USA will compete against in Tokyo.

    7/10/21 - Khadzhimurad Ghadzhiev (Azerbaijan)

    7/8/21 - Ali Shabanov (Belarus)

    7/7/21 - Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia)

    7/6/21 - Suleyman Karadeniz (Turkey)

    7/5/21 - Frank Chamizo (Italy)

    7/3/21 - Yui Susaki (Japan)

    7/1/21 - Amir Zare (Iran)

    6/28/21 - Zavur Uguev (Russia)

    6/27/21 - Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine)

    6/26/21 - Sergey Kozyrev (Russia)

    6/24/21 - Kenchiro Fumita (Japan)

    6/23/21 - Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (Belarus)

    6/22/21 - Erica Wiebe (Canada)

    6/21/21 - Myles Amine (San Marino)

    6/20/21 - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)

    6/19/21 - Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)

    6/18/21 - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)

    6/17/21 - Takuro Otoguro (Japan)

    6/16/21 - Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)

    6/15/21 - Koumba Larroque (France)

    6/14/21 - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

    6/13/21 - Ningning Rong (China)

    6/12/21 - Bajrang Punia (India)

    6/11/21 - Frank Staebler (Germany)

    6/10/21 - Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)

    An underdog who broke through to contender status with an incredible run to end 2020, #2 Vazgen Tevanyan of Armenia has been one of the biggest developments at 65 KG to end the 2016-2020 quad. A follow-up performance at the European Olympic qualifier that saw him beat four World/Olympic medalists to qualify for the Olympics, Tevanyan has quickly become one of the premier contenders for gold at 65 KG at the Tokyo Olympics. Today's Olympic profile will look at the career of #2 Vazgen Tevanyan of Armenia.

    The Stats

    #2 Vazgen Tevanyan (ARM)- 2014 46 KG Cadet European 5th, 2015 54 KG Cadet European champion, 2018 61 KG Junior European champion, 2018 61 KG Junior world bronze medalist, 2019 U-23 European champion, 2019 Junior world championships 5th, 2019 Intercontinental Cup bronze medalist, 2020 Individual World Cup champion, 2021 European Olympic qualifier champion.

    Key Wins: #3 Zagir Shakhiev (2019 Intercontinental Cup), #4 Ismail Musukaev (2020 Individual World Cup finals), #6 Haji Aliyev (2021 European Olympic Qualifier finals), Vladimir Khinchegashvili (2021 European Olympic Qualifier), #18 Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (2021 European Olympic Qualifier), Ilman Mukhtarov (2019 U-23 European Championships), Maxim Sacultan (2019 U-23 European championships), Abbos Rakhmonov (2018 61 KG Junior world bronze medal match), Edemi Bolkvadze (2019 U-23 European championships finals), Gor Oganesyan (2020 Individual World Cup), #9 (61) Teimuraz Vanishvili (2014 46 KG Cadet European championships)

    Key Losses: #5 Takuto Otoguro (2019 world championships), Daton Fix (2015 54 KG Cadet world championships), Ismail Gadzhiev (2014 46 KG Cadet European championships), Nikolai Chaban (2014 46 KG Cadet European championships), Ali Sheriev (2016 58 KG Cadet European championships finals), Selim Kozan (2019 U-23 world championships), Evan Henderson (2019 Intercontinental Cup), #6 Haji Aliyev (2019 European championships), Amirhossein Maghsoudi (2016 58 KG Cadet world championships), Vadim Bikoev (2016 58 KG Cadet world championships repechage), Peyman Biabani (2019 Takhti Cup quarterfinals), Khirollah Gahremani (2020 Takhti Cup quarterfinals).

    2014-2018

    Vazgen Tevanyan's career would begin in 2014 at the 46 KG Cadet European Championships, taking fifth with losses to Ismail Gadzhiev (RUS) and Nikolai Chaban (UKR). Tevanyan would make his return to competition in mid-2015, moving up to 54 KG and winning the Cadet European title over Cabbar Duyum of Turkey. At the Cadet World Championships, Tevanyan was matched up with Daton Fix of the United States in the qualification round and was eliminated after a 7-1 loss. Tevanyan's final year of Cadet eligibility, in 2016, saw him move up to 58 KG where he was runner-up at the European Championships to Ali Sheriev (RUS) and placed seventh at the World Championships with losses to Amirhossein Maghsoudi (IRI) and Vadim Bikoev (RUS).

    Tevanyan's debut at the Junior level would see him move up another weight class to 61 KG, where he'd take gold at the Junior European Championships with wins over Intigam Valizada (AZE) and Igor Nikiforuk (UKR). Making the quarterfinals of the World Championships, Tevanyan faced off against top Russian prospect #1 (61) Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RUS) and was tech falled 10-0 in the first period. With Magomedov making the finals, Tevanyan was pulled into repechage where he made the bronze medal match and beat 2016 57 KG Olympian Abbos Rakhmonov (UZB) to take his first world medal.

    2019-2021

    Coming off Junior world bronze at 61 KG, Vazgen Tevanyan would make his Senior-level debut at 65 KG at the Takhti Cup. Making the quarterfinals, Tevanyan fell to 2018 Military World runner-up Peyman Biabani (IRI) and was eliminated from the competition after Biabani's semifinal loss to Giorgi Revazishvili (GEO). Tevanyan's next competition would see him claim his first Senior title at the U23 European Championships with victories over Ilman Mukhtarov (FRA), Edemi Bolkvadze (GEO) and Maxim Sacultan (MDA).

    Opening his tournament at the Senior European championships with a 10-0 tech fall over George Ramm (GBR), Tevanyan faced the biggest test of his career in three-time world champion #6 Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan in the Round of 16. The offensive dynamo Aliyev struggled against the stingy defense of Tevanyan, but was ultimately able to pull away with a 1-0 win. Aliyev would go on to win his third European title and Tevanyan was pulled into repechage but defaulted out in the first round to Hussein Shakhbanov (BLR).

    At the Junior World Championships, Tevanyan would be matched against 2018 Alans runner-up #3 (70) Kurban Shiraev of Russia. Shiraev put on a clinic against Tevanyan for a 10-4 victory and with Shiraev's semifinal win over 2021 70 KG Asian champion Syrbaz Talgat (KAZ), Tevanyan would get his chance to wrestle for bronze. Talgat pulled away with a close 4-3 win over Tevanyan, leaving the Armenian with a fifth-place finish.

    Continuing to push through a loaded Senior level debut season, Tevanyan competed at the Senior World Championships facing returning world champion #5 Takuto Otoguro (JPN) in the first round. The Japanese phenom who'd outscored his competition 67-23, was too much, too soon for Tevanyan and broke through the Armenian's defense for a 6-0 win. Otoguro was eliminated by returning 61 KG world runner-up #1 Gadzhimurad Rashidov of Russia and Tevanyan's inaugural Senior world championships ended early.

    Tevanyan concluded his 2019 competing at the Intercontinental Cup and the U23 world championships. At the Intercontinental Cup, Tevanyan opened with an impressive 6-5 win over #3 Zagir Shakhiev (RUS) before falling to Evan Henderson (USA) in the semifinals and taking bronze over Shamil Guseinov (RUS). Tevanyan's U23 world championships would not be as prosperous as the reigning U-23 European champion lost 3-3 on criteria to 2016 60 KG Junior world runner-up Selim Kozan of Turkey.

    Tevanyan's 2020 began with a rocky start, finishing 8th at the Takhti Cup after a quarterfinal loss to Khirollah Gahremani (IRI). Not competing again until December, Tevanyan went in as a potential darkhorse contender at the Individual World Cup, but was not expected to be able to beat the likes of World/Olympic medalists in Gadzhimurad Rashidov (RUS), Haji Aliyev (AZE) and Ismail Musukaev (HUN). Through the semifinals, Tevanyan had looked like a completely different wrestler, outscoring his competition 27-0 to get the chance to face 2019 Ziolkowski runner-up Gor Oganesyan (UKR). Oganesyan, an unorthodox wrestler who's extremely dangerous from tie-ups with throws and counters, was seen as the one to slow Tevanyan's roll. Tevanyan shut down the diverse offense of the Ukrainian to take a 7-2 win and make the finals opposite returning world bronze medalist Ismail Musukaev (HUN).

    Ismail Musukaev (HUN), one of Russia's best lightweight prospects with runner-up finishes at the 2015 57 KG and 2018 61 KG Russian National championships, had beaten world medalist and champion-caliber athletes his whole career. But never breaking through to make a world team, Musukaev made the transfer to compete for Hungary in 2019 and broke through in a major way to take gold at the world championships with wins over World/Olympic champions Vladimir Khinchegashvili (GEO) and #5 Takuto Otoguro (JPN). Making the finals by beating three-time 61 KG world champion Haji Aliyev (AZE), the Individual World Cup title was seen as locked up for Musukaev. But come time to decide who'd win gold, things were different; Tevanyan was no pushover, it was his time. Leading Musukaev 1-0 at the break, the second period saw Musukaev take a 1-1 lead on criteria off a shot clock violation. But in the waning moments of the match, off an arm drag reattack, Tevanyan would explode through for a takedown and two rib-crushing gut wrenches to seal an 8-1 win and the biggest title of his career.

    Coming off the high of winning the Individual World Cup, Tevanyan began 2021 still having to qualify Armenia for the Tokyo Olympics. Competing in a loaded field at the European Olympic qualifier, Tevanyan would have to beat out a trio of World/Olympic medalists in Vladimir Khinchegashvili (GEO), Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (POL), and Haji Aliyev (AZE) just to get the chance to compete in Tokyo.

    2013 61 KG World runner-up Vladimir Dubov (BUL) was the first to fall to Tevanyan in an 11-0 loss. 2020 European runner-up Nyurgun Skryabin (BLR) would push Tevanyan but still be a 7-5 win for the Armenian. 2016 57 KG Olympic champion Vladimir Khinchegashvili (GEO) was a 6-4 win for Tevanyan. Standing between Tevanyan and the chance to compete for gold in Tokyo would be 2019 70 KG world bronze medalist Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (POL), a defensive stalwart notorious for pulling away close offensively stifling matches. Beating out the defense of Gadzhiev, Tevanyan would qualify Armenia for the 65 KG Tokyo Olympics with a 4-2 victory. Concluding his brilliant run at the European qualifier, Tevanyan faced three-time 61 KG world champion Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan. His best competition of the day saw Tevanyan at his best, dominating Aliyev 9-0 for gold. Tevanyan had not only proved his run from the Individual World Cup wasn't a fluke, he'd announce himself as a serious threat for gold in Tokyo.

    The rapid improvements #2 Vazgen Tevanyan has made in just his second full year of Senior level competition have been absolutely spectacular. From failing to place at the Takhti Cup to beating five World/Olympic medalists at the Individual World Cup and European Qualifier means the Armenian has put himself on the shortlist of gold medal contenders in Tokyo. I'm very excited to see how Tevanyan handles himself against the rest of the field and the chance of a rematch against #5 Takuto Otoguro (JPN) and a match against reigning world champion #1 Gadzhimurad Rashidov (RUS) makes 65 KG a weight to watch in Tokyo.

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