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Vlasov Back to Work in Serbia with RUS Looking to Select World Team

roman vlasov at 2018 ivan poddubny tournament
Roman Vlasov -- Photo: WrestRus

Those who have been speculating as to what the future might hold for multiple-time World/Olympic Champion Roman Vlasov (77 kg, RUS) now have a definitive answer.

Vlasov is back in action today at the 2021 Ljbomir Ivanovic Gedza Memorial in Mladenovac, Serbia and has thus far appeared in fine form. The first round for Vlasov (77 kilograms is a pooled bracket at Gedza) offered countryman ’19 Junior World Champion Sergey Stepanov — who did manage to see the final whistle. Vlasov’s movement was not hindered through the early stages of the bout as he checked and pummeled his way to the opening passivity/par terre chance. From top, he clasped for a gutwrench and used the hold to turn Stepanov thrice. The second period brought forth a more meandering pace with neither athlete able to negotiate discernible advantageous positions. Stepanov received the next passive/PT shot but came up empty, allowing Vlasov to eventually collect a 7-1 decision. In Round 2, the Russian star earned a 6-2 victory at the expense of Aleksandar Ilic (SRB) for a 2-0 record. The next bout for Vlasov will come against Iranian Amin Yavar Kaviyaninejad, who won the Junior Worlds back in ’17 and also owns a U23 bronze from the same year.

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After the first three rounds are completed, 77 kilograms will move to a conventional format based on individual records with semifinals, the final, and the bronze round. For Vlasov, there is the possibility of a showdown with an athlete of particular interest — Tamas Levai of Hungary. At the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial this past June, Vlasov was handled by Levai, who in turn was trounced by ’19 World gold Abuyazid Mantsigov (RUS) in that weight category’s final. The result ignited a ripple effect. On the strength of his Pytlasinski gold, Mantsigov earned a Tokyo wrestle-off with ’17 World Champion Aleksander Chekhirkin, which Chekhirkin won. Vlasov was left out of the equation entirely, therefore ending his bid for a third consecutive spot on Russia’s Olympic Team after having emerged victorious in London (’12) and Rio (’16), respectively.

Elsewhere

Russia is observing Gedza as the premier step of their World Team selection process. Head coach Gogi Koguashvili had previously intimated that wrestlers who competed in Tokyo would not be included on the roster for the Oslo Worlds next month (this despite Musa Evloev‘s desires to the contrary). Seven of the ten weight categories in Mladenovac are populated by at least two Russians; the highest-placing Russian wrestler in each bracket will, likely, earn a ticket to Oslo.

Hungary’s team selection procedures usually differ from Russia’s on an annual basis, but the short turnaround between Tokyo and Oslo has invited change. Although Hungary did hold their version of a National tournament just last week, that event was purportedly targeted more towards concerns for ’22. The weight category to watch for the Hungarians in Serbia is 87 kilograms, where both Istvan Takacs and Erik Svilvassy are mired in an intriguing battle.

And as of press time, Takacs has the lead.

The ’19 Junior World champ began Saturday’s trek with a 3-1 decision over stablemate David Losonczi; next came an even-tighter nod against Vaag Margaryan. If Takacs can get past Zarko Dickov (SRB), he will face one of two Russians: ’19 Junior/’20 Individual World Cup champ Milad Alirzaev or ’18 Euro silver Bekhan Ozdoev. Szilvassy was cut down by Ozdoev in the quarterfinal by a score of 6-1 and is now caught in the “repechage waiting game”.

The 2021 Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza Memorial is a single-day tournament. Finals are scheduled to begin at 6:00pm local time (12:00pm ET) and can be viewed live and for free on United World Wrestling.

Notes:

  • Only six countries are participating (Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Russia, and Serbia). Nearly three dozen nations were invited.
  • The US has not had a Gedza entrant since ’17, when Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm) placed fifth and Hayden Zillmer earned bronze.

2021 Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza Memorial

September 4 — Mladenovac, SRB

*Final results will be published once the tournament concludes. 

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