There is a different culture in Russia. They believe accomplished veteran wrestlers should be favored until proven otherwise. Kind of like people that get hired for a job in America might be favored over other very good applicants if they have much more experience in the field.
What Gatsalov describes in the interview is not fully correct. The coaches/the federation send not only the newcomer, but both the newcomer (who won the nationals) and the experienced wrestler (who didn't place or didn't wrestle at the nationals) to wrestle at any international tournament held short before the worlds; in the last several years usually at Ziolkowsky in Poland. To make the world team the newcomer has to win the tournament; doesn't matter whether he will wrestle the experienced wrestler on his way to the title or not. If he doesn't place first, he is out and it will be the experienced wrestler who will make the world team. Recent case was the Saitiev-Tsargush dilemma. The young Tsargush won the 2006 nationals in mid July; Saitiev didn't wrestle there. A month later they have been sent to wrestle at Ziolkowski. Notice that they were the only 1st ranked Russian wrestlers at that tournament. The Russian wrestlers in the other weight classes were 3rd or 4th ranked, i.e. only the results of Saitiev and Tsargush had the meaning of world team trial results. Tsargush couldn't win the tournament (lost 2 of 3 matches and placed 5th); so, had no more chances to wrestle at the worlds. But also Saitiev lost. The coaches preferred to take him in the wrestling team.
There is one thing I cannot understand in the ?Russian system?. Obviously only a victory of the newcomer has any meaning. Why do they send also the ?more accomplished wrestler? to wrestle at the particular tournament, when it doesn't matter whether he would win or lose? Another case I remember is the newcomer Gogshelidze vs. the accomplished (1999 world champ) Murtazaliev short before the 2000 Olympics. The coaches decided that Gogshelidze would make the olympic team, only if he would win the 2000 Yarygin tournament (in those years Yarygin was held in the summer). If he wouldn't win, it would be Murtazaliev who would represent Russia in Sydney, no matter whether Murtazaliev would win or lose at Yarygin. Gogshelidze lost the final (to Sergei Kovalevski) and the chance to be in the olympic team. Murtazaliev went to Sydney, though he had lost the Yarygin semis to Gogshelidze. That means: Of importance for the coaches was not the fact that a newcomer had beaten the ?accomplished? wrestler, but the fact that the newcomer had lacked consistence with winning.
BTW, also other federations (Iran, Bulgaria, Germany....) have a similar ?system?. When in a particular weight class, they have a good newcomer and an ?accomplished? wrestler or when they have 2 wrestlers showing mixed results when wrestling each other, or when they have an ?accomplished? wrestler and a former ?accomplished? wrestler who has retired but comes back, they send them to wrestle at any of the tournaments short before the worlds: at Ziolkowski (the usual case; e.g. the Iranians prefer it) or at Beloglazov (the Germans prefer it), or in Brashov (the Bulgarians prefer it). For example ? Iran at the 2006 Ziolkowski. In the 4 weight, in which it had been already decided who would make the world team, the Iranians had either one wrestler or nobody. But in each of the other 3 weight classes (74, 96, 120) they had 2 wrestlers: Hajizadeh & Bazri, Heidari & Ebrahimi, Rezaei & Masoumi. Their results at that tournament gave the decisive answer who would wrestle at the worlds.
A bizarre case was the confrontation Amir Reza Khadem vs. Majid Khodaei in 2004. Khadem had retired after the 2000 olymics. In 2004 he suddenly declared he wanted to attack the olympic top again (he was 3rd in 1992 and 1996, 4th in 2000). Though he hadn't wrestled for more than 3 years, the Iranian federation supported him because of the strong positions of the Khadem bros. in the wrestling federation. At the same time the Iranian 84-kg top wrestler of 2001-2003 Majid Khodaei had some mixed results at 2004 international tournaments. The Iranian federation let them show their abilities at the Ziolkowski tournament. Interestingly, both reached the final. Khodaei beat Khadem and went to Athens.
Obviously the importance of the international tournaments held in late July and in the first half August, i.e. short before the worlds, in Kaliningrad (freestyle), Poland (all styles) and Romania (all styles), is growing. That is why some other national federations already shifted their international tournaments to August. The international tournaments in Bulgaria (Dan Kolov in freestyle and Nikola Petrov in greco) have been held in March for many years. This year they will be organized for the first time in August. Also the Umakhanov freestyle tournament will be in August. In previous years, it was held in late spring ? early summer.
Big - Thanks for the translation of probably the best pound for pound wrestler in the world today. You are the man and I can never get enough of this kind of stuff.
On top of that, often even a little threat by the newcomer to a titled veteran is often blown out of proportion as a big story.
I noticed some fuss about this attitude. Why? If you are the best, why not say so. Not only because you proved it, but as an intimidation factor, and as a way of motivating yourself. The greats in other sports do this (I have a BUNCH of specific examples), so why not wrestling?
You are welcome sgallan. Bump!