Medals scatter across fighting mats

41st International Grand Prix Freestyle Wrestling Tournament, honouring triple Olympic champion Alexander Medved, gathers athletes from 18 countries in Minsk

By Yuri Kovalev

The host team lacked its optimal line-up (with famous Rizvan Gadzhiev, Murad Gaydarov, Ruslan Sheikhov and Ivan Yankovsky absent due to injury) yet managed to win nine medals: four gold, three silver and two bronze. This allowed our men’s team to outstrip such traditionally formidable rivals as Kazakhstan, Russia and the USA.
Belarus’ Vladislav Andreev (under 55kg), Ali Shabanov (55kg), Omargadzhi Magomedov (84kg) and Alexey Shemarov each claimed gold.

The tournament was certainly good experience for the squad, in preparation for the 2011 European Championship, which begins on March 29th in German Dortmund. It proved a resounding success. “Last year, there was a six week break between the tournament in Minsk and the European Championship, allowing us to present our main athletes. This time, we decided to save our core wrestlers for the big event, since their capabilities are already well known to us. Our main target was to discover who our reserve wrestlers should be,” explains head coach Sergey Kitaev. “In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting such good results but I’m delighted that our trainees have exceeded our expectations. They’ll be useful at European and world events in future.”

The tournament honouring Alexander Medved, the best freestyle wrestler of the last century, began in Minsk in 1970 and gained Grand Prix status in 1994, awarded by the International Wrestling Federation. To date, it has gathered athletes from 55 countries, with a record number of participating countries (47) attending for the 30th tournament, in 2000.

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