Turpal Bisultanov (87 kg, DEN) pushed the pedal to the floor early and often in his quest for U23 European gold, but it was not enough and his reserves were exhausted.
The finals on Day 2 of the 2023 U23 European Championships began at 6:00pm local time from Bucharest, Romania and aired live in the United States on FLOWrestling.
Bisultanov, Senior World silver in ’22, had earned a ticket to the final round on the heels of an excellent showing across his first three matches yesterday. The 21-year-old had went unscored upon as he disposed of Patrik Gordan (ROU), Hovhannes Harutyunyan (ARM), and Gabriel Lupasco (MDA), and won two of his bouts via technical fall.
But in today’s battle for gold, Bisultanov was greeting not only another young standout, he was staring down an athlete who also stood on the World podium last year in Hungarian David Losonczi. Losonczi, 23, did not have the same type of smooth sailing Bisultanov enjoyed in the tournament’s earlier rounds on Monday. Other than having secured a VSU at the expense of Szymon Szymonowicz (POL) in the qualification round, Losonczi had to get on his horse in order to turn back Mykyta Alieksieiev (UKR) and Muhutdin Saricicek (TUR), respectfully. Those latter two victories perhaps prepared Losonczi for the fight that lied before him in the form of Bisultanov on Tuesday.
From the opening whistle, Bisultanov assumed the initiative and hastily dug inside, primarily at the wrists, while crowding Losonczi and using his legs to create insistent movement. He would not be able to engage adequate static in terms of finding a usable tie-up, though there was little doubt as to which one of the two displayed a sense of urgency. Eventually, the referee called Losonczi for passivity and the call was confirmed to give Bisultanov an opportunity to pile on from top par terre. His lock delivered two points — and he was close to a second turn, but Losonczi managed to hip and float enough to avoid exposure. Shortly after returning to their feet, time was called so that Losonczi could receive medical attention due to blood. The training staff wrapped his head in gauze and they resumed jousting, with Bisultanov once again doing his best to dictate the flow of the match.
The second period started much in the same fashion as the first. Bisultanov was ramping up the pressure and ardently, if not frenetically, chaining together flurries. He was not merely pushing forward, as in one instance the upper-weight even had a brief look at an arm throw. Nevertheless, the officials agreed with the idea of flip-flopping the passives, which provided Losonczi with a point as well as his own chance to capitalize from top PT. One low gutwrench later, Hungary had the lead via criteria. Bisultanov demanded that the sequence be challenged; the exposure was upheld and Losonczi had also grabbed the outright 4-3 lead.
After the reset, Bisultanov went back to heavy pressure, and the bout was subsequently halted for a second time as Losonczi necessitated assistance from the training staff to address ketchup. With just over a minute remaining — and with the action beginning to bog down — Losonczi was dinged for passivity, thus distributing to Bisultanov what everyone expected to be one last shot at retaking the lead. He locked for a gutwrench but Losonczi defended. As the clock ticked away, Bisultanov’s output significantly diminished. He was running on fumes. Losonczi’s advantage on the scoreboard was not threatened from then on, and U23 Euro gold was all his.
It is the second-straight U23 European Championships silver for Bisultanov. In last year’s final, he was defeated by another Hungarian, Istvan Takacs. But that loss was followed by a remarkable achievement. Just three weeks after falling to Takacs in the U23 version of the event, Bisultanov ran the table to emerge with gold at the Senior Euros by downing Nicu Ojog (ROU) in the final round. Greco-Roman at the ’23 Senior European Championships is scheduled to begin on April 21 in Zagreb, CRO. Bisultanov may compete before then, however. Later this month, the annual Thor Masters Invitational gets underway in his home nation of Denmark.
Mukubu Going for Gold
Prior to the finals for the “Day 1 weight categories” at the ’23 U23 European Championships, Norway’s Exauce Mukubu (82 kg) dominated in each of his three matches and will compete for gold tomorrow. Mukubu, 23, defeated Ismayil Rzayev (AZE) in the round-of-16, Adam Gardziola (POL) in the quarters, and Ilias Pagkalidis (GRE) in the semifinal. All three bouts were won by Mukubu via technical superiority. His opponent in the gold-medal match will be Jonni Sarkkinen (FIN).
The remaining 2023 U23 European Championships schedule is as follows (all times local/+6 hours ET):
Wednesday, March 15 (Mukubu in final)
11:30am-2:00pm — Repechage (60, 67, 72, 82, & 97 kg)
6:00pm-7:30pm — Finals/bronze-medal matches (60, 67, 72, 82, & 97 kg)
2023 U23 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
March 13-15 — Bucharest, ROU
Marcel Hein (DEN)
LOSS Branko Kovacevic (SRB) 7-1
Exauce Mukubu (NOR)
WON Ismayil Rzayev (AZE) 9-0, TF
WON Adam Gardziola (POL) 9-1, TF
WON Ilias Pagkalidis (GRE) 8-0, TF
vs. Jonni Sarkkinen (FIN)
Turpal Bisultanov (DEN) — SILVER
WON Patrik Gordan (ROU) 8-0, TF
WON Hovhannes Harutyunyan (ARM) 7-0
WON Gabriel Lupasco (MDA) 9-0, TF
LOSS David Losonczi (HUN) 4-3
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