“The smallest,” Roman VLASOV (RUS) did not mince his words when asked about his chances to make the Russian team for the Tokyo Olympics.
He was the favorite to win the 77kg weight class in Warsaw on Saturday but the Russian suffered a shock defeat to the rising star Tamas LEVAI (HUN) in the semifinal 1-1, hurting his own chances of making the Russian team for the Games.
It was one of those matches where Vlasov failed to find his rhythm despite being the aggressive wrestler. He did not anticipate the tactics Levai deployed first to come out unharmed from the par terre position and then defend the 1-1 criteria lead until the end of time.
The two-time Olympic champion’s fate now hangs in balance as Russia will decide the the Tokyo Olympian later this month.
In the 77kg final, Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) manhandled Levai — outplacing Vlasov in the process — and will likely square off against fellow world champion Aleksander CHEKHIRKIN (RUS) for the Russian 77kg at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Much like Iran did earlier in the week with their freestyle squad, Russia used the Poland Open as a special wrestle-off. But in the case of Russia’s 77kg spot, they used the Poland Open as a placeholder for a spot in a showdown against Chekhirkin, who punched his nation’s ticket to Tokyo through his gold-medal performance at the European Olympic Qualifier in March.
It’s not clear when or where the special wrestle-off will take place, but once that information is available, it’ll be posted on www.uww.org and all of our social media accounts.