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Monday Roundup: ‘Last Chance’ Week; Milov

kiril milov, bulgaria, european qualifier
Kiril Milov -- Photo: UWW

This coming Saturday is the 2024 Last Chance Olympic Team Trials Qualifier for Greco-Roman wrestling in Fairfax, Virginia. FLOWrestling will carry the live broadcast (subscription only).

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The first preview, which covers the three lightest weight categories (60, 67, and 77 kg), was published this past weekend; the second preview that focuses on the three upper-weight classes (87, 97, and 130 kg) will be released later in the week. As described in the initial material, entries will be updated leading to the registration deadline, a task that will begin on Tuesday.

2024 Last Chance Qualifier Schedule

Saturday, April 6 (All weight categories)
10:00am-2:30pm — Preliminaries through semifinals
6:30pm-8:00pm — Finals (winners from each bracket earn spots in ’24 US Olympic Trials).

Milov Injured, Out of Euro Qualifier

Baku, Azerbaijan plays host to the European Olympic Games Qualifier on Friday, a tournament that is expected to produce some of the most compelling and hard-fought match-ups of the entire season. United World Wrestling last week published the entry lists for each weight class (subject to change) and, as most might have guessed, a who’s who of that continent’s best competitors are set to appear.

Matthew 20:18-19 & the Hallway Whiteboard (1)

One who won’t be suiting up, however, is two-time World silver medalist Kiril Milov (97, BUL), who re-injured what the Bulgarian Federation (BF Borba) is describing as a “torn thigh muscle”. In a statement, Milov — who placed third at the European Championships in February — explained that this particular injury was first endured in September, thereby forcing him to miss the ’23 Belgrade Worlds. The 27-year-old then apparently suffered a setback while in Croatia at a recent training camp.

“It all started with a dream. A dream with which you fall asleep, a dream with which you wake up,” Milov began. “These three years of waiting were years of trials, with many difficulties in personal and professional terms. Years of hard work, deprivation, sweat and struggle in the gym. After my injury in September and the inability to participate in the World Championships, the first opportunity to qualify, I was looking forward to the qualifications in Baku. After a long recovery from the injury, I was ready. I knew what I could give of myself and what I could achieve. I knew what I was capable of. My dream was a ticket to Paris. However, life had other plans for me.

“At the last camp before the long-awaited Olympic qualification tournament, during training, I managed to tear a tendon and two muscles in my back thigh. A ridiculous situation that required an emergency operation in Germany. The prognosis was not good and I had to accept the fact that I was losing my chance to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics. The pain and frustration of hard work and effort going to waste is great. Hard to describe in words. It is impossible.” Milov subsequently closed out his statement with a vow to return in even better form once healed. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will. The will to fight literally and figuratively. I will come back stronger than ever.”

Milov is not alone, nor is he the only Bulgarian, to miss out on the European Qualifier. ’22 World silver Edmond Nazaryan (60 kg) is also injured, though the extent of his injury is unknown and it is currently anticipated that Nazaryan could be ready for the World OG Qualifier in May. In addition, ’20 Olympic/two-time World Champion Musa Evloev (97 kg) from Russia has been declared ineligible to compete as an Individual Neutral Athlete due, purportedly, to a controversy stemming from his taking a picture in his home country under a banner which said “No to Nazism”. It is not clear why that would be a violation warranting his removal. It should also be mentioned there are other sources claiming that the reason Evloev — who will not be allowed to compete in the World qualifier, as well — has been deemed ineligible is due to ties with the Russian military. In September, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stated that Russian and Belarusian athletes would be permitted to compete as Individual Neutral Athletes under the stipulation that they “do not support the war and are not linked to the military, or to other services.” For its part, the Russian Wrestling Federation has yet to put out an official release pertaining to Evloev’s exclusion or publicly address the situation.

Evloev, who turned 31 years of age yesterday, last competed at the Russian Nationals in January, which he won for a fourth time. That appearance ended a more than two-year hiatus, as Evloev had dealt with a series of injuries and recovery in the wake of his gold medal run in Tokyo. ’23 U23 World Champion Magomed Murtazaliev, who came away with bronze at the Euros in February, will be making the start at 97 kg this week in place of Evloev.

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