By Kirill Karin
The event is to gather the strongest world squads: from Russia, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Korea and Cuba. As expected, Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan are the tournament’s favourites, having won gold, silver and bronze respectively at last year’s World Cup (among teams).
Belarusian head coach Gennady Sapunov doubts that his team will be among the medallists but hopes to make a good impression. Last November, at the 17th International Tournament Dedicated to the Memory of Olympic Champion Oleg Karavaev, held in Minsk, our wrestlers sensationally defeated Russia in the semi-finals; our rivals then failed to bring their best line-up. However, the outcome of the event is not a foregone conclusion, since success depends on the performance of the whole team rather than one or two leading athletes, with wrestlers competing in seven weight categories.
The Belarusian team might include our most titled Greco-Roman wrestlers: 2008 Beijing Games bronze-medallist Mikhail Semenov (under 66kg), alongside the laureates of world and European championships — Alexander Kikinev (74kg) and Timofey Deinichenko (96kg).