BAKU, AZERBAIJAN — It has only been a few events that US Greco Roman athletes have competed in under the new, par-terre free rule update, but it is starting to look like a “be careful what you wish for” scenario. For if you live by the passivity sword, you will die by it, also. Even if it is unjust. Especially if it is unjust.
Earlier in the morning, Patrick Martinez (80 kg, NYAC, world no. 15) survived a tough scrap with 2016 Junior World bronze medalist Sultan Azara Bashir (ALG) 2-1 to move into the quarterfinals at the 2016 Golden Grand Prix. In that match, Martinez was down by 1-0 in the second period before he collected two late points to advance. The next round wouldn’t be as kind.
Battling Samat Shirdakov (KGZ), Martinez was the one nursing a one-point lead through much of the duration. Martinez turned Shirdakov’s feet with short drags and did an admirable job of controlling the tie-up’s as he attempted to weave into more favorable positions. Shirdakov early on looked to struggle with Martinez’s physicality, but the action was tight and few opportunities to score opened up.
The second period took on a similar theme. Martinez worked in close; Shirdakov resisting signs of danger. However, as the period began to wind down it seemed all but an eventuality before Martinez would be knocked. A breakaway or two later, the warning came and soon after, the decisive point. The American, realizing time was of the essence, lowered in for a high dive and then tried snatching a hold of his opponent. Shirdakov fended off the last-ditch attempts to take the match 1-1 via criteria. Rafik Huseynov (AZE, world no. 4) bested Shirdakov in the semifinals to put Martinez out of contention for a medal.
While certainly disappointing, Martinez has bigger things to focus on now. Next month, he competes at the 2016 Non-Olympic Weight World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.