Focken rises, Stadnik Takes Top Tokyo Seed after Gold at Poland Open


WARSAW, Poland (June 10) --- Just over a month ago, Aline FOCKEN (GER) was in Warsaw for the European Championships with an aim to become the continental champion. She, however, failed to do so after losing in the quarterfinals.

“I wanted a lot [at European Championships],” Focken said. “I wanted to be the champion and put myself under a lot of pressure and made mistakes.”

Just in the space of seven weeks, Focken transformed herself with a mature approach to her bouts which helped her win the gold medal at the Poland Open in Warsaw on Thursday.

With the gold medal, she also passed Hiroe MINAGAWA SUZUKI (JPN) for the number two seed in Tokyo.

“The difference today was I was calm and wanted to wrestle and she how the progress was going,” she said.

On Thursday, Rotter Focken shut out Dymond Precious GUILFORD (USA), Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA) and Epp MAEE (EST) and only surrendered one point against Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) en route to winning her second Ranking Series title and first since the ’18 Yasar Dogu.

The top-four seeds at the Olympic Games will be Adeline GRAY (USA), Rotter Focken, Minagawa and Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ), respectively.

Focken admitted that she has been struggling to be consistent at the 76kg despite winning the world title, explaining it as the pressure she puts herself under.

“My problem is that I put myself under a lot of pressure to win every tournament,” she said. “But there are so many tough opponents, it's not possible to win every time. But I want to and I make mistakes.”

But her performance in Warsaw was a sneak into what she has been working on, making her a potential threat to the Olympic title.

“I have to work a lot,” she said. “I am working on my mental side a lot. I changed the weight class from 69kg to 76kg so that's difficult. I try to stay calm and focus on myself.”

In the final, Focken devised a strategy to keep her rival Epp MAEE (EST) at bay and win 3-0.

“We have known each other for long because we train in camps a lot,” she said. “I wanted to score my own points. It's difficult to score as she is small and moves really good. But I also did work in the second round to get more movement and score. I had no plan how to score but I wanted to and I did.”

Mariya STADNIK (AZE) was also in Warsaw in April and she captured the gold at European Championships. She repeated that feat as she won the 50kg gold at the Poland Open.

In the process, she also stole the number one seed at the Olympic Games from former number one seed Emilia VUC (ROU) after storming her way to an early morning 12-2 victory. In their rematch of the gold-medal match from the ’19 World Championships, Stadnik gave up the initial takedown but scored 12 consecutive points in 25 seconds.

She also scored technical superiority wins over Erin GOLSTON (USA) and Mariia TIUMEREKOVA (RUS) on her way to the finals, where she met her ’21 European semifinals opponent Oksana LIVACH (UKR).

“I am happy with today's result because before this I came to the camp from the mountains and it is hard to breathe a little on the mat when you do that. It feels like you are a heavyweight,” Stadnik said.

“But this competition was needed because I need to check myself before the Olympics. I have only two months left.”


In the finals, Stadnik quickly jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against the Ukrainian world bronze medalist The Azeri two-time world champion scored on a step out, four-point toss, and ahead inside single leg before surrendering a step out of her own. She capitalized on a late open shot attempt from Livach and spun behind for the 9-1 lead. Despite failing to score in the second period and giving up three unanswered points, Stadnik held on to the 9-3 win and claimed 16 Ranking Series points.

Her performance on Thursday was a big improvement from Euro Championships as she was still regaining shape after a long gap due to COVID.

“For a year and a half I did not participate anywhere and it was difficult psychologically. Here I was in better shape and I was more confident.,” she said.

The three-time Olympic medalist is chasing a career-defining gold medal in Tokyo after winning two silver and a bronze at her previous Games appearances.

“I will do everything physically and mentally that I can in order to win the gold medal,” she said. “Five seconds were enough to deny be a gold at Olympics last time. Everything is in the hands of God and he knows if I will win or not but I will do everything to ensure that I can.”

Stadnik is now the 50kg top seed at the Olympic Games with 76 points, followed by Vuc, Livach and Valentina Ivanovna ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ), respectively.

At 62kg, Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) overpowered Ana GODINEZ (CAN) in the gold-medal match and will be the top seed at 62kg in Tokyo.

AIsuluu Tynybekova

Coming into the Poland Open, the ’19 world champion already amassed a 34-point lead over second-seeded Taybe YUSEIN (BUL). She added 16 Ranking Series points on Thursday – bringing her overall total to 106 points – and will sit in the top spot of the bracket in Tokyo.

Talking about her wrestling on Thursday, the world champion was not particularly happy with how she started the tournament. Against Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS), she was trailing 2-8 after the first period but rallied to score 12 points and the fall in the second.

“Overall, it was a good day but to be honest my coach is unhappy with me because he set a task for me which I couldn't fully complete,” Tynybekova said. “I was very relaxed in the first bout of the day. I have to work harder on my fitness so that such situation does not arrive in the future.”

The second through fourth seeds at 62kg in Tokyo will be Yusein, Yuliia TKACH OSTAPCHUK (UKR) and Yukako KAWAI (JPN), respectively.

At 55kg, Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) thunderously threw Sumiya ERDENECHIMEG (MGL) and picked up the 90-second fall to win gold. Since early ’20, Khoroshavtseva qualified Russian for the Olympic Games at 53kg, and has won the European C’ships twice, Ivan Yariguin, Russian National C’ships, and Poland Open. She also finished with a bronze medal at the ’20 Individual World Cup.

In the 65kg finals, Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) jabbed her back from a six-point deficit to win her fourth consecutive Ranking Series gold medal. Her finals opponent Anastasiia LAVRENCHUK (UKR) came out firing, double legging Johansson to her rear end for the early four-point advantage. Johansson surrendered another takedown in the first, but just before the period closed, the Tokyo Olympian at 62kg added a freight-train four-point double leg and cut her Ukrainian foes lead to 6-4.

Johansson scored the only two points of the second period and added another Ranking Series title to her resume with the 6-6 win. After finishing with a bronze medal at the ’18 Klippan Lady Open, she’s won Ranking Series golds at the Dan Kolov, City of Sassari Tournament, Yasar Dogu, and now, the Poland Open.



50kg (12 entries) +8
GOLD - Mariya STADNIK (AZE) df. Oksana LIVACH (UKR), 9-4
BRONZE - Mariia TIUMEREKOVA (RUS) df. Erin Simone GOLSTON (USA), 9-7
BRONZE - Valentina Ivanovna ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ) df. Nadezhda SOKOLOVA (RUS), via fall


62kg (11 entries) +8
GOLD - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Ana GODINEZ (CAN), 7-1
BRONZE - Liubov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Svetlana LIPATOVA (RUS), 6-3
BRONZE - Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR) df. Jennifer Page ROGERS PAGE (USA), 16-4

GOLD - Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) df Anastasiia LAVRENCHUK (UKR), 6-6
BRONZE - Aleksandra WOLCZYNSKA (POL) df. Linnea SVENSSON (SWE), via fall
BRONZE - Taybe YUSEIN (BUL) df Kamila KULWICKA (POL), 3-2

76kg (13 entries) +8
BRONZE - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Aiperi MEDET KYZY (KGZ), via fall
BRONZE - Erica WIEBE (CAN) df Dymond GUILFORD (USA), 7-3


Saravi Dominates #WrestleWarsaw to Claim Spot on Iran Olympic Team

By Vinay Siwach

WARSAW, Poland (June 13) --- After the 97kg Greco-Roman final, Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI) went up to the judge to seek answers. His actions were justified as he had not only lost the gold medal to compatriot Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) but also the opportunity to represent Iran at the Tokyo Olympics.

Iran, treating the Poland Open as the selection trial for Tokyo Games, had entered the two and on Sunday, they dominated the field and reached the final. This was the last category that was undecided for Iran after three freestyle and one Greco-Roman class finalized in Warsaw.


Poland Open

They had to wait till the end of the day as it was the final bout and then more as both Iran wrestlers had mistakenly wore opposite singlets. 50 seconds into the bout they changed the singlets and resumed the bout. Saravi got the advantage of Balihamzehdeh being passive in the first period and he got an exposure to lead 3-0.

Balihamzehdeh was hoping that Saravi will be warned for inactivity as well but that did not happen as the latter kept on the pressure throughout the period. It ended 3-0 in favour of Saravi, completing the Iran team for the upcoming Games.

His gold medal also pushes him to third position in the Tokyo seeding as he collected 16 points. His total of 52 points takes him ahead of Cenk ILDEM (TUR) who is now out of the seeding.

Tadeusz MICHALIK (POL) finished fifth in Warsaw and collected 10 points for a total of 42 to edge past Ildem by a point.

There was no other major shuffle in the Olympic seedings for the weight classes that were in action on Sunday.

At 87kg, veteran Uzbek wrestler Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) won a bronze medal to collect 12 points but that doesn't change his third position in the seedings.


The gold medal was captured but he upcoming star and two-time U23 world champion Semen NAVIKOV (UKR). In the final, he defeated Istvan TAKACS (HUN) 2-1 with all points scored on referees call.

Takacs had earlier stopped Rio Olympic bronze medalist Assakalov's run in the tournament with a 2-1 win in the semifinal. The Uzbek then came back in the bronze medal bout against Arkadiusz KULYNYCZ (POL) with a big fall.

The next big thing in Ukrainian wrestling Navikov will not be at the Olympics as another star wrestler Zhan BELENIUK (UKR) is scheduled to wrestle in the Japanese capital city.

In the remaining three weight categories, hosts Poland captured two gold medals while the third went to Uzbekistan.

Michal TRACZ (POL) wrestled Ekrem OZTURK (TUR) in the 60kg final and held on for 3-2 win for his home country. In the nordic style bracket, he won two bouts to reach the semifinal in which he came out on top against Mukhammadkodir YUSUPOV (UZB) 3-2.

Ozturk had a back-and-forth semifinal against Olivier SKRZYPCZAK (POL) as the two scored 26 points in the stipulated six minutes. In the end, Ozturk won 15-11 to reach the final.

Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) won the second gold medal for Poland as he defeated Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB) 4-3 in the 72kg final.

The Pole had some tough bouts throughout the day as he began with a 3-1 win against Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) 3-1 before pulling through a 1-1 win against compatriot Roman PACURKOWSKI (POL).

From the other side, Rakhmatov defeated Juan AAK (NOR) 9-0 in the qualification before clinching a 7-0 win over Mateusz BERNATEK (POL) in the quarterfinal. He had a tough one against Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) in the semifinal but managed to pull off 5-4.

Uzbekistan did get it's gold medal on Sunday as five-time ranking series finalist Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) managed to hang on and defeat Ayata SUZUKI (JPN) 5-3 in the 63kg final. Suzuki was awarded a point for Bakhramov's passivity and he later got an exposure from par terre to lead 3-0. But Bakhramov reversed it and completed a head-pinch to make it 3-2.

In the second period, he got the point for Suzuki's inactivity and then exposed him from the par terre position to lead 5-3. The Japanese did try quite a few arm throws but failed to get any points.

From Japan, world champion Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) was also scheduled to make the Poland trip but pulled out at the last moment due to unforeseen circumstances. Fumita has now not competed internationally since winning the gold medal at the Asian Championships in New Delhi in February, 2020.

Poland Open 63kg


GOLD: Michal TRACZ (POL) df Ekrem OZTURK (TUR), 3-2
BRONZE: Mukhammadkodir YUSUPOV (UZB) df Olivier SKRZYPCZAK (POL), 10-2

GOLD: Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. Ayata SUZUKI (JPN), 5-3
BRONZE: Christopher KRAEMER (GER) df. Artor HAGERUP (NOR), via fall
BRONZE: Krisztian KECSKEMETI (HUN) df. Mairbek SALIMOV (POL), 4-0

GOLD: Gevorg SAHAKYAN (POL) df. Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB), 4-3
BRONZE: Cengiz ARSLAN (TUR) df. Juan AAK (NOR), 2-1
BRONZE: Krisztian VANCZA (HUN) df. Roman PACURKOWSKI (POL), 3-1

GOLD: Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) df. Istvan TAKACS (HUN), 2-1
BRONZE: Rustam ASSAKALOV (UZB) df. Arkadiusz KULYNYCZ (POL), via fall
BRONZE: Metehan BASAR (TUR) df. Bachir SID AZARA (ALG), 1-1

GOLD: Mohammadhadi SARAVI (IRI) df. Mehdi BALIHAMZEHDEH (IRI), 3-0
BRONZE: Islam ABBASOV (AZE) df. Gerard Cyprian KURNICZAK (POL), 4-0