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Elsayed Over Etlinger; Bica & Huklek Also with Gold at ’23 Haparanda Cup

2023 haparanda cup results
Image: HSKT Brottning YouTube

Dominik Etlinger‘s (CRO) return to international competition on Saturday was a successful one, even if it did not conclude how he might have preferred.

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The 2023 Haparanda Cup in Haparanda, Sweden began at 10:30am local time (4:30am ET) and streamed live on YouTube.

It was Egyptian star and ’20 Olympic bronze Mohamed Elsayed who stood tallest in the packed 67 kg bracket as him and Etlinger remained on a collision course throughout the tournament by operating in separate pools. Etlinger went virtually untouched and had won his first three bouts via technical superiority. In Round 4, Sweden’s Niklas Ohlen provided stiff resistance but work from par terre helped Etlinger prevail 7-3. To his credit, Elsayed was equally effective with three VSU’s, one of which was recorded against up-and-coming Senior Tim Bergfalk (SWE). Both Etlinger and Elsayed had done their part to provide the most-anticipated showdown of the final round — but when it did in fact materialize, the affair was over shortly after it had begun.

Soon into the first period, Elsayed lasered an arm drag that resulted in takedown points. From top par terre, he quickly sought a lift as Etlinger tried to defend by posting his left arm on Elsayed’s own left appendage. The position was static, and it had appeared that, upon the whistle, Etlinger had earned a reset. But Elsayed maintained that defensive leg contact on the Croatian’s part was the culprit for his not executing the lift. The officials reviewed the sequence and returned from their conference to penalize Etlinger for a caution-and-two in addition to restarting the match from par terre. With another opportunity in his pocket, Elsayed achieved the same lock and made good on a four-point lift to swiftly end the proceedings in his favor.

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Elsayed, 25, first made an enormous splash on the Senior international scene in ’19. After finishing fifth at that year’s World Championships (and having qualified 67 kg on behalf of EGY for the Tokyo Olympics), he had only a one-month break before the Military World Games, where in the final he defeated ’18 World gold Artem Surkov (RUS). Just five days later, Elsayed also reigned supreme at the U23 World Championships. His bronze in Tokyo represented another highlight, of courser; however, he struggled in both World tournament appearances in the time since and had competed sparingly, aside from a pair of titles from continental tournaments.

31-year-old Etlinger, who earned bronze at the ’19 European Championships, had been recognized as a top World contender prior to the end of the previous Olympic cycle. Non-Olympic 71/72 kg had become his home — but during the lead-up to Tokyo OG qualifying in early ’20, he dropped to 67 and immediately worried potential counterparts by thrashing the field at Thor Masters. The pandemic in part derailed his trajectory; but when competition resumed in late-’20, Etlinger got back on track by winning a National title as well as the Grand Prix Zagreb Open in his home country. What happened next can be attributed to his multi-year layoff.

Shortly after the ’20 Zagreb tournament, Etlinger was notified of a positive doping sample that had been collected at the Nationals due to an ingredient found in a supplement he ingested. Etlinger requested a testing of the “B” sample, which also included the presence of the substance. He was levied a three-year suspension by the Anti-Doping Service of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, an excessively-harsh length in the eyes of many. Etlinger once again became eligible to compete on November 16 of this year.

Bica, Bernatek, & Huklek

Popular Swede Alex Bica (63 kg) was efficient all day along at Haparanda with a pin against Algot Gamelius (SWE) helping him to get started towards stamping down a spot on the podium. Bica decisioned Jonatan Jednell (SWE) in Round 2, and in the final overcame Salimov Aslambek (POL) 5-1. Bica was a Haparanda Cup champ in ’18 and finished third in the event the next year.

’17 World silver Mateusz Bernatek (72 kg, POL) came up just short of gold at this tournament in ’22, having fallen to ’20 European Championships winner Morten Thoresen (NOR). There were no such issues this year. After squeaking by Christoffer Dahlén (SWE), Bernatek pounded out both Elias Mikko (SWE) and Arman Seitkarimov (KAZ) to come away with the event title.

Perhaps the most dominating performance of the tournament belonged to ’17 U23 World bronze and ’20 Olympian Ivan Huklek (87 kg, CRO). It was three-up and three-down for the 27-year-old on Saturday, and all three of his wins were stoppages. Huklek was on his way to a VSU against Petteri Kukkola (FIN) before recording a pin. In Round 2, Elias Lyyski (FIN) was victimized by way of technical fall, and the pattern remained the same in the final as Huklek was all over Raido Liitmae (EST) before icing the contest from standing. Huklek had used a high-gut-lift to put four on the board and grab a 6-0 lead but required an injury time-out. When action was restarted, the Croatian forced a step-out and then closed the show with a takedown on the edge.

2023 Haparanda Cup

December 2 — Haparanda, SWE


60 kg

GOLD: Oliwier Skyrzypczak (POL)
SILVER: Helary Magisalu
BRONZE: Aibek Aitbekov

63 kg

GOLD: Alexander Bica (SWE)
SILVER: Aslambek Salimov
BRONZE: Vasyl Myshanych

67 kg

GOLD: Mohamed Elsayed (EGY)
SILVER: Dominik Etlinger
BRONZE: Niklas Ohlen

72 kg

GOLD: Mateusz Bernatek (POL)
SILVER: Arman Seitkarimov
BRONZE: Piotr Stolarczyk

77 kg

GOLD: Antonio Kamenjasevic (CRO)
SILVER: Akseli Yli-Hannuksela
BRONZE: Irfan Mirzoiev

82 kg

GOLD: Albin Olofsson (SWE)
SILVER: Artur Ovsepian
BRONZE: Lukas Ahlgren

87 kg

GOLD: Ivan Huklek (CRO)
SILVER: Raido Liitmae
BRONZE: Elias Lyyski

97 kg

GOLD: Aleksandar Stjepanetic (SWE)
SILVER: Richard Karelson
BRONZE: Artiom Shumski

130 kg

GOLD: Artur Boichuk (UKR)
SILVER: Vladyslav Chertorynskyi

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