Jesse Thielke put on a thrilling performance at the 2nd OG Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey earlier today, blitzing his way to the 59 kg final. By doing so, Thielke gave the US Greco team another clinched spot for the Rio Games. It also earned him a shot at six-time World Champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Hamid Soryan. Like Thielke, Soryan enjoyed a dominant run to the final, taking out Ivan Lizatovic (CRO), Erik Weiss (GER), Dmytro Tsymbaliuk (UKR). Soryan won by technical superiority in each bout.
Entering the final round, Soryan strolled to Mat B loosening up and receiving last-minute words from his coaches. Once he stepped on the mat he resumed his light warm-up while awaiting the arrival of his opponent. Thielke did not appear right away. This led to some online speculation as to whether or not the US would take their clinched spot and elect not to face the six-time World Champion (however ill-conceived that notion might seem). Of course, Thielke did in fact make his way to the center mat and the action proceeded not long after.
What was anticipated to be a highly-anticipated battle between the iconic Soryan and the rising star in Thielke never really materialized. Soryan assumed control nearly immediately by exploding forward on Thielke. Soryan followed the American to the mat and quickly cinched up a gutwrench, turning Thielke three times to seal the match. It was all over in less than a minute.
It would perhaps be easy to speculate that once Thielke’s scorching march to qualification was complete he simply didn’t have the same steam to plow ahead against someone like Soryan. Or, it could be that the Iranian’s explosiveness caught Thielke off-guard before he had a chance to get in a groove. Either way, this match is not even close to being a fair representation of Thielke’s overall day at the 2nd OG Qualifier, or how he might do against Soryan should the two meet up again in Rio. Thielke has already soundly defeated several opponents the Iranian athlete has struggled against in the past, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens going forward. For now, you just chalk it up as a learning experience Thielke will likely use to fuel him even more.