2008 Olympics preview at 55 kg/121 lbs. in men's freestyle wrestling
Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
2007 World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia has moved to the front of this division, improving on his World silver medal in 2006 with a strong performance last year. A past Junior World champion, Kudukhov has consistently competed at a high level his entire career. He will have to battle Junior World champion and 2008 European champion Djamel Otarsultanov just to make the Russian Team
2006 World champion Radoslav Velikov of Bulgaria also placed second at the 2005 World championships, where he lost to two-time World champion Dilshod Mansurov of Uzbekistan. Both of these athletes are experienced and talented, hoping for a return trip to the top of the podium.
Naranbaatar Bayaraa of Mongolia claimed a World silver medal in 2007, and the World bronze medals were won by Andy Moreno of Cuba and Rizvan Gadshiev of Belarus. Naranbaatar also boasts a World bronze medal from 2005.
The United States hopes to challenge for a medal at this weight class with young Henry Cejudo, who won the 2007 Pan American Games but did not place in his first World Championships last year. He has wrestled most of the top wrestlers in the division. Cejudo has beaten Moreno a number of times, most recently at the 2008 Pan American Championships and also has a win over Kudukhov. To make the team, Cejudo beat 2004 Olympic silver medalist Stephen Abas in the final series, another step in his development.
Rounding out the top eight from the 2007 World Championships are Sezer Akguel of Turkey, Freddy Serrano of Colombia and Zhassulan Mukhtabekuly of Kazakhstan.
Japan?s Tomohiro Matsunaga won the 2008 Asian Championships, and Masashi Saito won the 2007 Asian Championships title for Japan.
Qualified Nations at 55 kg/121 lbs.
Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cuba, Georgia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mongolia, People?s Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, United States, Uzbekistan
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2007 World Championhips
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold ? Besik Kudukhov (Russia); Silver - Naranbaatar Bayaraa (Mongolia); Bronze ? Andy Moreno (Cuba); Bronze - Rizvan Gadshiev (Belarus); 5th - Sezer Akguel (Turkey); 5th - Dilshod Mansurov (Uzbekistan); 7th - Freddy Serrano (Colombia); 8th - Zhassulan Mukhtabekuly (Kazakhstan); 9th - Anil Kumar (India); 10th - Firas Alrifaei (Syria)
2006 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. ? Gold ? Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria); Silver ? Besik Kudukhov (Russia); Bronze ? Namig Abdullayev (Azerbaijan); Bronze ? Sammie Henson (USA); 5th ? Sub Kim-Hyo (Korea); 5th ? Adkham Achilov (Uzbekistan); 7th ? Vinod Kumar (India); 7th ? Vinod Kumar (India); 8th ? Taghi Dadashi (Iran); 9th ? O Son Nam (North Korea); 10 th ? Amiran Kartanov (Greece)
2005 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Dilshod Mansurov (Uzbekistan); Silver - Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria); Bronze - Hyon Guk Jon (North Korea); Bronze - Bayaraa Naranbaatar (Mongolia); 5th - Namig Abdullayev (Azerbaijan); 5th - Tomohiro Matsunaga (Japan); 7th - Jae-Hoon Jan (Korea); 8th - Gevork Markaryan (Ukraine); 9th - Zalimkhan Kutseev (Russia); 10th - Ghenadie Tulbea (Moldova)
2004 Olympic Games
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold ? Mavlet Batirov (Russia); Silver ? Stephen Abas (USA); Bronze ? Chikara Tanabe (Japan); 4th ? Amiran Karntanov (Greece); 5th ? Li Zhengu (China); 6th ? Kim Hyo Sub (Korea); 7th ? Oleksandr Zakharuk (Ukraine); 8th ? O Song Nam (P.R. of Korea); 9th ? Velikov Radislav (Bulgaria); 10th ? Dilshod Mansurov (Uzbekistan)
2003 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. ? Gold ? Dilshod Mansurov (Uzbekistan) dec. Ghenadie Tulbea (Moldova), 7-4; Bronze ? Oleksandr Zakharuk (Ukraine) dec. Mohammed Aslani (Iran), 5-2, ot, 6:22; 5th ? Stephen Abas (United States); 6th ? Amiran Kartanov (Greece); 7th ? Tanabe Chickara (Japan); 8th ? Ramazan Demir (Turkey); 9th ? Bauyrzhan Orazgaliyev (Kazakhstan); 10th ? Bayaraa Barabbaatar (Mongolia)
2002 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Roberto Montero (Cuba) dec. Namik Abduallayev (Azerbaijan), 4-1; Bronze - Oleksander Zakharuk (Ukraine) dec. Adcham Achilov (Uzbekistan), 3-1; 5th - Martin Berberyan (Armenia); 6th - Chikara Tanabe (Japan); 7th ? Oularbek Tuganbay (Kyrgyzstan); 8th - Zunbayan Tumendemberel (Mongolia); 9th - K. Kumar (India); 10th - Ercan Cetin (Turkey)