Exauce Mukubu (82 kg, NOR) is on the cusp of adding another high-profile accolade to his growing collection after dominating three opponents on Tuesday.
Day 2 of the 2023 U23 European Championships began at 11:30am local time from Bucharest, Romania and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.
Mukubu’s performance this morning have put him in tomorrow’s gold-medal final. He was not seriously tested as he went match-by-match through his side of the bracket, first eradicating Ismayil Rzayev (AZE) in the qualification round ahead of doing the same versus Adam Gardziola (POL) in the quarterfinal. One more bout separated the young Norwegian star from the final and, as was the case in the previous two contests, his antagonist was over-matched.
Squaring off against Greece’s Illias Pagkalidis, Mukubu worked to his left while seeking to snare two-on-one’s, occasionally angling and darting to reach around for a takedown. It wasn’t long before the officials pegged Pagkalidis for passivity, and Mukubu took full advantage by hawking a lift for four points and tacking on two more with a back-end turn that careened off the boundary. Up 7-0 with plenty of time remaining in the first, Mukubu was able to zip behind Pagkalidis for a potentially match-ending throw. Pagkalidis resisted well, and contorted to nearly scramble into a reversal; but Mukubu still found a way to amble in position and score a step-out point to force the 8-0 stoppage, his third straight VSU of the tournament. For gold tomorrow, he will meet Jonni Sarkkinen (FIN).
This past October, 22-year-old Mukubu became Norway’s first-ever U23 World Champion, and in ’21 he earned silver at the Junior (U20) Worlds. He now has an opportunity to become the nation’s first U23 European Championships gold medalist and has already guaranteed himself hardware from this year’s event, which will make him the fourth Norwegian athlete to step onto the podium, joining Morten Thoresen (bronze, ’18), Oskar Marvik (bronze, ’17 and ’18), and Felix Baldauf (bronze, ’15).
As reported on Monday, ’22 World silver Turpal Bisultanov (87 kg, DEN) has advanced to the U23 European Championships final and will battle David Losonczi (HUN). The medal round for Bisultanov is scheduled to begin today at 6:00pm (12:00pm ET) and can be viewed either on United World Wrestling’s official site or in the US via FLOWrestling.
Earlier on Tuesday, Denmark’s only other entrant into the U23 European Championships, Marcel Hein (82 kg), was defeated in the qualification round by Branko Kovacevic of Serbia. Kovacevic was felled by Sarkkinen, which eliminated Hein from a possible pathway to bronze through the repechage.
The remaining 2023 U23 European Championships schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, March 15 (Mukubu in final)
11:30am-2:00pm — Repechage (60, 67, 72, 82, & 97 kg)
6:00pm-7:30pm — Finals/bronze-medal matches (60, 67, 72, 82, & 97 kg)
2023 U23 European Championships
March 13-15 — Bucharest, ROU
Marcel Hein (DEN)
LOSS Branko Kovacevic (SRB) 7-1
Exauce Mukubu (NOR)
WON Ismayil Rzayev (AZE) 9-0, TF
WON Adam Gardziola (POL) 9-1, TF
WON Ilias Pagkalidis (GRE) 8-0, TF
vs. Jonni Sarkkinen (FIN)
Turpal Bisultanov (DEN)
WON Patrik Gordan (ROU) 8-0, TF
WON Hovhannes Harutyunyan (ARM) 7-0
WON Gabriel Lupasco (MDA) 9-0, TF
vs. David Losonczi (HUN)
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