The finals of the 66 kg bracket at the European OG Qualifier pitted 2012 Olympic silver medalist Tamas Lorincz (HUN, world no. 4) against up-and-coming Georgian wunderkind Shmagi Bolkvadze (world no. 12). It was a highly anticipated match-up given the context. Lorincz is trying to re-assert his chances heading into the Rio Olympics and Bolkvadze is doing his best to grow and impress at the senior level following a successful run as a junior. Both wrestlers qualified the weight for their respective countries by advancing to the finals of the tournament.
If there was one thing that was evident at the outset, it was that Bolkvadze wanted to apply constant pressure on his more experienced foe. Don’t misunderstand: Bolkvadze is normally an in-your-face type of athlete. And that strategy is one that he has carried over from the junior level. But he went on overdrive right from the whistle, perhaps to make a statement Lorincz would remember.
The problem with this approach is that all of the clashing and frenetic activity did little to upset the Hungarian early on. Lorincz is someone who is far too seasoned and experienced to fall into any kind of whimsical trap due to his opponent’s output. In fact, all he had to do was play back just enough to make Bolkvadze re-set occasionally. This would lead to a couple of passivity calls against Bolkvadze and result in the first legitimate scoring opportunity for Lorincz.
This sequence would not net the full four points awarded, as Georgia challenged the ensuing action due to an apparent entanglement that helped Lorincz gain the back-end of the gutwrench. Either way, it was the first points scored and a good start for Lorincz.
The first period closed without any further scoring. The requested challenge did take up the better part of a couple of minutes, allowing both athletes to gain a breather.
Shmagi Bolkvadze wasted little time in getting after it in the second. Down two, he pushed the pace as if down by six and would soon be rewarded by the official, who knocked Lorincz for passivity. Bolkvadze couldn’t do anything with the fortuitous call, however, and would almost wind up finding himself deeper in the hole. But that would come later.
This is a classic case of a younger wrestler forgetting to be patient and wanting to be creative. Maybe Bolkvadze figured he had a better chance at some points by digging in for a reverse lift. Maybe it was to be a little dump-off. He simply didn’t wait for Lorincz to clear, which the official would have had no problem instructing him to do so. No matter, the gaff gave Lorincz all the space he needed to amble up and out of trouble.
It wasn’t all bad news for Bolkvadze. His work-rate paid off soon after the two re-engaged. Lorincz didn’t seem tired but at the same time, wasn’t too enthusiastic about letting Bolkvadze push the action. After repeated attempts by Bolkvadze to hold onto Lorincz’s arms and tie him up, the Hungarian was called for fleeing, giving Bolkvadze a point and tightening the score.
That would be it for Bolkvadze, however. In the par terre chance that followed the call, he once again rushed to reverse lock underneath Lorincz, who, once again, quickly exploded up and into a bodylock that he turned into takedown points, giving him the win via a 4-1 score. Bolkvadze, upset at himself, was gracious in defeat and clearly spent. He had done his best to create scoring opportunities and left it all out on the mat. Lorincz deserves credit, too. He stayed poised and composed throughout, playing the savvy matador to Bolkvadze’s irate bull.
There are still two more days left at the European OG Qualifier and if the first is any indication, a lot of tense yet dynamic and interesting matches are still on the docket. Keep it here as we do our best to bring you updates and summaries as the action unfolds!