2016 Olympic gold medalist Davit Chakvetadze (87 kg, RUS) is still considered a premier competitor, even though he has not been able to replicate the type of success that made him an international star prior to the Rio Games. The very next year at the Paris Worlds, Chakvetadze — who had entered the tournament following a season of mixed results — was eliminated from the championship bracket by eventual two-time World gold Methan Basar (TUR) before eventually finishing fifth via injury default.
In ’18, a jolting performance in the Russian National final from Bekhan Ozdoev, combined with a torn knee, kept Chakvetadze off of the roster for the Budapest Worlds; and it has seemed an uphill climb for the now-29-year-old ever since, with his most recent showing giving way to a bronze at the Military Worlds last month in what was not exactly a power-packed bracket.
Chakvetadze recognizes that his career is in need of an upswing. And he also knows that time is of the essence in order to make that happen.
Speaking over the weekend at friend/teammate Stepan Maryanyan‘s (63 kg) annual youth tournament in Dinskaya, Chakvetadze shed some light on several topics, most notably the competitive morass in which he has found himself.
When asked by the official Russian media outlet about his post-Rio ledger, Chakvetadze said, “You cannot give up slack for a second. One missed workout is worth a month. To be honest, in the last cycle after the Olympics, perhaps this was the case. I relaxed a little. But now I will not allow myself this. Too much is at stake. Five years have passed since the Olympic victory, but I have been trying to be an Olympic champ for 16 years, so it’s okay. The main thing is to go forward and not give up.”
Pertaining to the injuries which slowed his surge towards consistent greatness, Chakvetadze insists that he currently sports a clean bill of health as he focuses on reclaiming his lofty in-country status. “My immediate goal is the Russian Championship, which will be held in February,” he explained. “Thank God, I have no injuries. Everything is fine, my body is in order. Everything will be fine.”
Other Chakvetadze notes from Dinskaya:
On the difference he notices in age-group competition from when he was young compared to now
“You know, it was very hard for me at that time, and remembering my competitions, it seems to me that today the children are not fighting for victories as hard as we did. Any loss for me during my childhood was a mourning. I did not want to give up. I always wanted to win.”
On his first tournament experience
“I was eight-years-old when I started in Greco-Roman wrestling, and at the age of ten I entered my first tournament in the Labor Reserves in Moscow. I was unsuccessful there. A year later, at a tournament in Zelenograd, I took second place. They gave me a tape recorder. Twenty years have passed since then. Time flies very quickly.”
On where he keeps his Olympic gold
“In my room under the bed. When difficult moments happen in my life, I take it out, look at it, and remember that I once achieved it.”
Datunashvili Wins an Award
He was born in Georgia, first reached global prominence representing Georgia, but there is no doubt Zurabi Datunashvili (87 kg) has already experienced the highest points of his career after switching over to Serbia after the ’17-’18 season. In August, he earned bronze in Tokyo; two months later, World gold in Oslo. While with GEO, Datunashvili did earn a solid collection of international medals (including a pair of Euro titles), but World hardware proved elusive. Not anymore.
Datunashvili — who pocketed his third Euro gold this past April — received the “Best Athlete of Vojvodina” award last week. Vojvodina is a province in northern Serbia and hosts the country’s second largest city, Novi Sad. The honor comes just two months following Datunashvili’s mesmerizing run to gold, which was capped by a dominating VSU at the expense of Kiril Maskevich (BLR).
US Returning to Sweden?
For the first time in nearly two years, United States age-group athletes are reportedly heading to Sweden next month for a refill of the familiar “prescription” (training plus tournament). The location? Sundsvall, where in January of ’20 two Americans placed first (Payton Jacobson and Benji Peak) and a total of five athletes competed. Two-time Cadet World Team coach Lucas Steldt is leading the trip, which as of now will be comprised mainly of wrestlers from Steldt’s Combat WC. There is a chance that several prospects from Northern Michigan University/National Training Site may also hop on board, but that could depend on how the stay in Sweden impacts NMU’s own schedule and protocol concerns. A full report on the Sundsvall tour will be on the way soon.
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