Greco News

Projected Seeds for Greco-Roman: 2024 Paris Olympics

david losonczi, 2024 olympic games
David Losonczi -- Photo: Kadir Caliskan

United World Wrestling’s “Ranking Series”, a system in which points are earned by athletes at various tournaments throughout a given season, is what will be used to determine the seeds at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

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One advantage of the “Ranking Series” is that it removes mystery. The system operates based solely on objectivity. Wrestlers’ placings at any ranking tournament correspond with a certain number of points. The more ranking tournaments an athlete enters, the more opportunities they have to pile on points and improve their standing among the sport’s finest. Opinion and preferences are not part of the protocol. Thus, there is no need for speculation pertaining to the seeds in Paris. All one has to do is glance at the latest UWW rankings and the seeding order for the Olympics can be discerned.

But there is a hitch.

Olympic quotas belong to national federations. “Ranking Series” points do not. Therefore, if an athlete who is ranked high-enough to be seeded at the Olympics is not entered, the next wrestler (if entered from a qualified nation) in ranking order will receive that seed.

EXAMPLE: Oscar Pino Hinds of Cuba is currently ranked 3rd and would thereby receive the 3rd seed in the 130 kg bracket at the Olympic Games; however, barring injury or other unforeseen circumstances, it is expected that four-time Olympic gold Mijain Lopez will take Pino Hinds’ spot in Paris. Lopez, despite his hall of fame credentials, will not be seeded in the tournament. As such, Pino Hinds will lose his 3rd seed, and 4th-ranked Abdelatif Ahmed Mohamed (EGY) will take his spot.

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Seeds are also distributed in ranking order in the absence of higher-ranked competitors. Gevorg Gharibyan (ARM) and Pridon Abuladze (GEO) are ranked 5th and 6th, respectively, at 60 kg. Armenia and Georgia are without Olympic quotas in this weight category; the result is that the athletes from qualified nations ranked beneath Gharibuan and Abuladze will commandeer these corresponding seeding spots in the 60 kg bracket. 


Although the 2024 Paris Olympic Games is just over a month away, some national federations have yet to publicly disclose their rosters. Most often, those wrestlers who earned Olympic bids are the same one who go on to enter the tournament. But not always. Team selection procedures differ from nation to nation.

The seeds below are projections, which likewise connotates “conjecture”. There are several instances in which qualified nations have more than one ranked (and potentially medal-capable) competitor per bracket. These seeding projections presume that athletes who qualified their weight classes will be the ones who appear in Paris (with the exception of the aforementioned Pino Hinds, who is very quite likely to sit out in favor of Lopez). 

2024 Olympic Seeding Projections

60 kg

  1. Zholaman Sharshenbekov (KGZ)
  2. Liguo Cao (CHN)
  3. Victor Ciobanu (MDA)
  4. Kenichiro Fumita (JPN)
  5. Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (IRI)
  6. Islomjon Bakhramov (UZB)
  7. Raiber Rodriguez Orozco (VEN)
  8. Razvan Arnaut (ROU)
  9. Reigning two-time World champ/four-time medalist Sharshenbekov is at the moment the closest approximation Greco-Roman wrestling has to a prime Mike Tyson. He has not only managed to win every event in which he has entered over the past two years, he has done so by expressing a degree of dominance that, on the top level, is exceedingly rare to witness. Especially in a weight class that is as competitive as 60 kg is and has been. 

    Azerbaijan is interesting. Multi-time World medalist Murad Mammadov qualified the weight for AZE in Istanbul but Nihad Mammadli has stepped up and received most of the major starts for the country at 60 since becoming a full-fledged Senior following a decorated career as an age-grouper. Mammadli would garner the #7 seed if he goes to Paris; meanwhile, Mammadov has held down 63 kg over the past few seasons, though performed obviously very well venturing back down to the Olympic weight. 

    Arnaut has become a strong competitor in Europe but fell short of qualifying 60 this past spring. But — because Saydk Lalaev was ruled ineligible by the International Olympic Committee after having earned a berth, Romania was next in line given the placement order in Turkey. It all adds up to Arnaut both having a ticket to the Olympics as well as the 8th seed in this bracket. 

    67 kg

    1. Hasrat Jafarov (AZE)
    2. Luis Orta Sanchez (CUB)
    3. Mohammadreza Geraei (IRI)
    4. Slavik Galstyan (ARM)
    5. Mate Nemes (SRB)
    6. Amantur Ismailov (KGZ)
    7. Mamadassa Sylla (FRA)
    8. Valentin Petic (MDA)
    9. One of the cleaner brackets in the tournament from a ranking/seeding perspective. From #1 to #5, each athlete is considered their nation’s frontline option. Past Nemes at #5 is when things start to get fuzzy. Joni Khetsuriani from Georgia is ranked 6th, but Ramaz Zoidze is who qualified. After Ismailov in the pecking order is Krisztian Vancza of Hungary, and HUN is without a berth.Sylla, ranked #9, climbs two spots to #7, and Petic, sitting 15th, jumps all the way up to the 8th seed. 

      ’20 Olympic/’23 World champ Orta Sanchez has barely had so much as a stutter step since waving goodbye to 60 kg and saying hello to 67. Of course, he recently also helped engineer a meme when, in the semifinal of the Polyak Imre Memorial last month, he caught Saied Esmaeili Leivesi of Iran by surprise. Esmaeili was celebrating prematurely, thinking he had defeated the Cuban. He was gesturing and walking away, and Orta Sanchez came from behind (literally) to wrap up Esmaeili and snatch the match-winning points. 

      Orta Sanchez’s fellow Olympic/World champ Geraei has remained at the top of his game, as well. A superb wrestler in every meaningful way, even with juggling 67 and 72 post-Tokyo. As for Jafarov, he, too, has been similarly effective. After finishing runner-up to Orta at the ’23 Worlds, he grabbed bronze from Zagreb before winning his second-straight Euro title. Jafarov also won the Polyak Imre Memorial earlier this month, but that gold came at 72 kg, which did not count towards his points total for 67 — and does not matter considering that he is ranked 1st in the Olympic category. 

      77 kg

      1. Nao Kusaka (JPN)
      2. Sanan Suleymanov (AZE)
      3. Azkhol Makhmudov (KGZ)
      4. Malkhas Amoyan (ARM)
      5. Yosvanys Pena Flores (CUB)
      6. Demeu Zhadrayev (KAZ)
      7. Zoltan Levai (HUN)
      8. Aram Vardanyan (UZB)
      9. Since the inception of the “Ranking Series” in ’18, Kusaka is one of the best examples of how the process can combine points accumulation with a real-time picture of who the hottest competitors in a given weight category happen to be. He bronzed at the ’23 Worlds and Zagreb after that; he then edged two-time World champ Makhmudov for gold at the Asian Championships and proceeded to take 1st in Hungary. All of that, coupled with the individual victories he has earned at the expense of 77’s best competitors, are why Kusaka will occupy the top seed in Paris. 

        Suleymanov saw a World title slip through his fingers by falling to Makhmudov via criteria in the final; he did win Zagreb in January, but went on to finish 10th at the Euros and 5th in Hungary. Nevertheless, Suleymanov will enter the Olympics having missed the #1 seed by a measly 100 points. Makhmudov’s only loss in an event offering ranking points was to Kusaka in April. He also did not compete in Hungary where a high placing might have made up for it. 

        The rest of the top-8 are close to being arranged in natural order. Georgia did not qualify, which nullifies Iuri Lomadze at #6, just as Moldova missed out on a bid, which means that Alexandrin Gutu is bypassed at #8. Thus, Zhadrayev moves up to #6, Levai to #7, and Vardanyan, ranked 10th, slots in with the 8th and final seed. 

        nao kusaka, 2024 olympics, asian championships gold
        Kusaka after defeating two-time World champ Makhmudov for gold at the 2024 Asian Championships. (Photo: Amirreza Aliasgari)

        87 kg

        1. Ali Cengiz (TUR)
        2. David Losonczi (HUN)
        3. Semen Novikov (BUL)
        4. Zhan Belenyuk (UKR)
        5. Nursultan Tursynov (KAZ)
        6. Bachir Sid Azara (ALG)
        7. Aleksandr Komarov (SRB)
        8. Naser Alizadeh (IRI)
        9. Despite Cengiz and Losonczi sharing the 87 kg World title from ’23, it is Cengiz who holds more ranking points (67,000 to 56,400). The European Championships is the main reason for why that is the case. Cengiz took silver (Komarov) whereas HUN entered Istvan Takacs instead of Losonczi. Aside from that one missed RS start (and a one-and-done from Zagreb), Losonczi has been otherwise brilliant in taking second to ineligible (but qualified) Milad Alirzaev at Vehbi Emre and placing 1st at the Polyak Imre Memorial (where he actually recorded another pin against Cengiz). 

          But 87 does have its possible seeding issues due to both AIN ineligibility and athlete replacement. Novikov, Belenyuk, and Tursynov are likely to stay right where they are in ranking order. It is on down the list where it becomes sketchy. Islam Abbasov is ranked #6, but it was Rafiq Huseynov who secured 87 for Azerbaijan; Kiril Maskevich (AIN/BLR, #7) was ruled ineligible and Alex Kessidis (SWE, #8) just missed out on qualifying. Unless Abbasov competes instead of Huseynov, Sid Azara, Komarov, and Alizadeh will comprise spots #6 through #8. If Abbasov does get the nod for AZE, then Alizadeh will miss out on a seed.

          97 kg

          1. Artur Aleksanyan (ARM)
          2. Abubakar Khashlakhanov (AIN/BLR)
          3. Mohammadhadi Saravi (IRI)
          4. Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan (CUB)
          5. Artur Omarov (CZE)
          6. Arvi Savolainen (FIN)
          7. Mindaugas Venckaitis (LTU)
          8. Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON)
          9. Rosillo stormed the gates in Belgrade and impressively exited the battlefield with his first World title. He next competed at the Pan-Am Games in November, and hasn’t been seen since. That means all of his ranking points were earned from one tournament. In his absence, Aleksanyan grabbed his 7th European Championships title (an absured number), Khashlakhanov (the only AIN from Belarus who will be in Paris) won Zagreb and bronzed at the Euros, and Saravi earned golds at the Asian Championships and Polyak Imre Memorial. In other words, those who finished right behind Rosillo on the podium last September kept acquiring points during the Cuban’s stretch of inactivity in ’24. 

            Omarov, Savolainen, and Venckaitis should all be good to go in August, giving 97 kg very little movement within the seeding order. The gap between Venckaitis (#7) and the next spot brings about the changes. Neither Peter Oehler (GER, #8), two-time World bronze Mihail Kajaia (SRB, #9), or Aleksandar Stjepanetic (SWE, #10) were able to qualify, which opens the door for long-time Pan-Am athlete Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON, #11) to shoot up to the 8th seed. 

            130 kg

            1. Amin Mirzazadeh (IRI)
            2. Riza Kayaalp (TUR)
            3. Abdelatif Mohamed (EGY)
            4. Lingzhe Meng (CHN)
            5. Alin Alexuc-Ciurarriu (ROU)
            6. Heiki Nabi (EST)
            7. Yasmani Acosta Fernandez (CHI)
            8. Moises Perez Hellburg (VEN)
            9. The biggest mess when it comes to ranking-informed seeds just so happens to belong to the weight category with the biggest athletes. As discussed, Lopez is going to usurp Pino Hinds, which takes away the #3 seed from Cuba — resulting in Mohamed and Meng taking over #3 and #4, respectively. Tokyo Olympic silver Iakobi Kajaia (GEO, #6) did not qualify, nor did Romas Fridrikas (LTU, #7), thus Alexuc-Ciurariu (8th) leapfrogs to #5. 

              Two-time World champ/Olympic medalist Nabi — whose country Estonia was awarded one of the open slots vacated last week due to AIN ineligibility — will come in as the 6th seed. Nabi is currently ranked #11. This sets the table for the steepest takeover of ranking spots of any bracket in the tournament. 

              There are nine ranked wrestlers out of the running behind Nabi at #11 — three of whom from qualified nations: Cohlton Schultz (USA, #12), Beka Kandelaki (AZE, #13) and Franz Richter (GER, #19). But Adam Coon defeated Schultz at the US Olympic Trials, Shariati secured 130 kg for Azerbaijan in May, and Krahmer qualified on behalf of Germany. There is also World champ/two-time Olympic bronze Sergey Semenov at #18, who earned a berth in April, but he is one of the blacklisted AIN competitors. 

              To uncover the next seed in back of Nabi — who as a refresher is ranked 11th — one must shuffle all the way down to #21, where resides ’17 World bronze Acosta. After Acosta, the next qualified nation with an athlete who is his program’s #1 option is Perez of Venezuela (#24). 

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