Point-scoring machine Sergey Emelin (RUS) stormed through the 59 kg bracket to snag gold while Turkey’s Yunus Emre Basar (world no. 14) took the 71 kg title on the first day of the U23 Euro Championships in Ruse, Bulgaria.
Emelin, a past Junior World bronze medalist, has turned heads before and is a highly regarded member of Russia’s impressive cluster of light weights. He didn’t waste any time here, as the points piled up quickly. Emelin was never seriously challenged throughout the tournament, tech-falling each of his foes in systematic fashion. Stout Georgian Khvicha Tchitava was the first victim. After a tight first period which saw Tchitava basically try to turn Emelin’s arms into pretzels with the amount of two-on-one hand fighting he engaged in, the score remained at zero. At the beginning of the second period, Tchitava scored on a correct hold while the two had their arms intertwined once again.
But that would be it for the Georgian upstart, as a failed double overhook throw found him losing position and giving up two points. Once the action returned to their feet and some more tie-up happy exchanges took place, Emelin got to work. First, he picked up a caution point. Once in par terre, he gutted Tchitava three times for a quick six and a 9-1 lead (final score 10-1, Emelin).
Next up for Emelin was Tamas Nad (SRB). This one wouldn’t last long. More tie-ups were the order of the day at the outset, as Emelin’s lanky arms kept getting tangled up in Nad’s. But a caution to par terre was all it took, as Emelin easily gut-wrenched his way to a snappy 8-0 win.
In the semifinals, Emelin faced up with Etienne Kinsinger (GER). A par terre caution led to Emelin finding yet another gut opportunity, throwing four points up in the process. This pattern repeated itself in the second period, when Emelin immediately laced his long arms around Kinsinger’s waist to score an additional four, ending the match.
The finals took on a similar tone, but this was one clash thought to be a potential barnburner. Emelin’s opponent, Murad Mammdov (AZE), 2014 Junior World gold medalist, enjoyed similar dominance through the tourney, as well. Naturally, the initial action stayed tight, as both looked for inside position, which is not one of Emelin’s strongest suits. But he stayed on the offensive and put Mammadov down with a passive call. As had been the case all day long, a quick gut gave Emelin two points.
Shortly thereafter, Mammadov whiffed on a headlock attempt, which Emelin used to get behind for the takedown points. But it wasn’t just a regular gutwrench that was to follow for the Russian. This time, it was of the trapped-arm variety, which with his considerable reach is a death knell for someone of Mammadov’s stature. Bang, bang, four points, and an eye-opening showing in the books for Emelin.
Yunus Emre Basar embarked on a similar journey in the U23 Euro Championships. Like Emelin, Basar was not taken into deep waters in any instance. Instead, it was the Turkish standout who pressed the action over and over again. A 6-0 victory over Gheorghe Cojocari (MDA) started things off for Basar. Next was Ruslan Ahamalyieu (BLR). Basar jumped to a 4-0 lead on an arm spin in the early going and he wasn’t about to give Ahamalyieu a chance to get back in the match. When they found their feet again, Basar locked both arms under Ahamalyieu’s waist and took him over his shoulder for another four points and the tech.
The semifinals welcomed in Ramas Zoidze (GEO), who would actually score first on an escape point. Unfortunately for Zoidze, however, that would be the end of his offensive output. The second period opened with Basar nailing a beautiful lift to take a one-point lead. A fleeing call against Zoidze would increase the tally to 3-1 and then another two points for failure to clear would follow once on the mat. At 5-1 and in control, Basar must have known it was a matter of time.
An unorthodox lift attempt from par terre (that would be challenged by Georgia) led to another two points. It was quite a move by Basar, who locked around Zoidze and seemed as if he was going to go over the shoulder. Rather, Basar carried the slumped-over Georgian to the edge where he then performed a somersault. It’s not a move you see often, but it paid off here. Once the challenge issue was settled, Basar locked up another lift attempt to try and collect the match-ending points. And he did just that, albeit with a little less flair than the previous attempt mustered.
Basar would have no cookie in the finals. Tough Croatian Antonio Kamenjasevic was also on a mission to pick up a U23 Euro Championships gold. The problem for him? Basar’s athleticism. Basar got behind for two early on, and of course, locked up a lift attempt. It wasn’t to be initially, but he kept at it and beautifully arched around for another two points. The score read 4-0 less than a minute into the match, but it felt over by this point.
Kamenjasevic tried to slow down Basar’s pace, but the problem with that is it puts you on par terre bottom, which in this tournament and against this opponent, is not a place you want to be. Sure enough, Basar was given choice, took the top position and it was academic from there. A quick succession of guts gave him the points he needed along with a U23 Euro Championships tournament win.
Snapshot of Day 1 at the U23 Euro Championships
- Sergey Emelin has par terre ability that is on par with some of the world’s best competition. If he could ever get his neutral wrestling game together, he will challenge for more opportunities on Russia’s considerably large roster.
- Georgia has a ton of emerging talent that should definitely be taken seriously.
- Yunus Basar is on a level athletically that is beyond most of his contemporaries. He’s going to be a force going forward for years.
We will have more news, match breakdowns, and information on the U23 Euro Championships as they continue on throughout the week. Check in at United World Wrestling’s official site for live updates and videos.
For interested parties, here’s the final between Basar and Kamenjasevic, courtesy of United World Wrestling.
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