The Belarusian team almost claimed gold, having an equal score in the final, but lost on points, to Russia.
As is traditional, Belarus was able to enter two national teams: Belarus-1, of skilled and titled wrestlers; and Belarus-2, of talented, up and coming young athletes. However, there was some last minute juggling of team members, to ensure the best matches during the round against the Russians (being drawn in the same initial group).
At the preliminary stage, Belarus-1 confidently outstripped Ukraine and Uzbekistan, only stumbling on meeting the Russians. In the match for third place, our wrestlers met Azerbaijan, defeating them 5:3, to enthusiastic exclamations in the packed stands at the Palace of Sports.
Belarus and Russia met in the final, with Belarusian Soslan Daurov (acclaimed as having the best technique in the tournament) winning his match, taking the first event point. Three defeats followed, before our team rallied, and managed to win some points.
With their last strength, in the hardest duels, Dzhavid Gamzatov and Victor Sosunovsky gained victories. Before the last match, our team was just one point behind the Russians. Iosif Chugoshvili appeared on the mat in the decisive fight, and fought brilliantly. However, although the score was 4:4, victory went to Russia, on additional indicators. Those watching were left in no doubt that Belarus’ wrestlers gained the most complicated victories, and that the team’s silver is worthy of gold.
The head coach of the national team, Igor Petrenko, said proudly, “Our guys fought to the last! Today, we were very close to defeating Russia’s team. Our wrestlers gained excellent experience, seeing that even idols can be conquered.”
The young team also showed their worth. For them, the final meeting against skilled Russians was great motivation in showing them the level to which they should aspire, and the work ahead.
Soon, the national team will join a training camp, having six months before licence tournaments. They have the opportunity to correct mistakes and improve their skills. We aspire to win the maximum number of medals in top tournaments and the same number of Olympic licences!
The Chairman of the Belarusian Wrestling Federation, Yuri Chizh, and the Honourable Chairman of the Federation, three-time Olympic champion Alexander Medved, observed all the matches.
By Igor Leshin
Photo: Tatiana Stolyarova