Three-time World Champion Frank Staebler retired from international competition following his run to bronze at the Tokyo Olympics this past summer. He did not retire from wrestling altogether. Staebler, 32, still competes in Germany’s Bundesliga for Red Devils Heilbronn and is undefeated through five starts (RDH has had 12 league duals since October).
Bundesliga does feature a playoff series, which for this season begins next month. However Staebler’s team finishes does not affect when the actual last match of his career will transpire. That has already been decided. Germany has organized a special event titled “The Last Fight” scheduled for June 18 at the Ludwigsburg MHP-Arena. The man who will have the honor of being Staebler’s actual-career-ending opponent is Olympic/World champ Mohammadreza Geraei (67 kg, IRI, world #1). Geraei and Staebler combined for a classic in the Tokyo quarterfinals, a bout which saw the Iranian prevail via criteria 5-5.
The card will also include a team dual pitting a variety of Germany’s best athletes against a field of international counterparts. In addition, music, dancing, and appearances from several other German sports celebrities are all part of the festivities. Streaming information has not yet been released, though it is assumed that the event will be broadcast online.
Live from Soligorsk
The Belarusian Nationals are now set for January 12-16 (Greco-Roman follows men and women’s freestyle). Individual participants are not yet available. Belarus does use their domestic championships to help inform team selection, but there are other factors involved. National champs will likely receive entries into the European Championships before the next phase of their selection process is up for discussion.
Sweden’s Own Fine Print
The aforementioned Euros is often the gateway tournament for nations in the region when it comes to determining World Teams (even for those who hold a final Trials-like event). Sweden is no different, and their own ’22 procedures rely on competitive results from multiple data mines.
First up is the Swedish National Championship, which will exclude contestants at 55 and 63 kilograms. That event takes place January 29-30 in Varsberg. The next opportunity for athletes to gather steam will be the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov in Bulgaria from February 17-20. On the heels of the Petrov is going to be a national camp in Malmo, where wrestle-offs may occur should the coaching staff deem it necessary according to specific weight categories.
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