Wednesday, 4 August 2021

No Olympic Bronze Medal for Croatian Wrestler Ivan Huklek

August 4, 2021 - Croatian wrestler Ivan Huklek fought in the Olympic bronze medal match in the 87 kg category in Tokyo on Wednesday.  

Ivan Huklek, 24, failed to win the bronze medal at the Games in Tokyo in the 87kg category, where he was defeated 6-1 by naturalized Serbian Zurab Datunashvili.

The three-time and current European champion, who started wrestling under the Serbian flag in 2019, gained a 6-0 advantage in a minute and a half in the first round. Datunashvili brought Huklek to the ground from the counterattack and made three consecutive throws for two points.

In the second round, Huklek managed to earn only one point on the passivity of Datunashvili, and when he got the opportunity to fight on the ground, he failed. 

Huklek was the second wrestler to get the opportunity to fight for an Olympic medal under the Croatian flag, but he, like Božo Starčević in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, lost the fight for the bronze medal.

This was Datunashvili's third appearance at the Olympic Games, and he won a medal for the first time. When he wrestled for his native Georgia, he won seventh place in 2012 in London in the 74kg category, and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro he was 18th in the 75kg category. Datunashvili won the bronze medal fight in a rematch. 

This medal would have been the first Olympic medal for Croatian wrestling since independence, and the third for Croatian wrestlers. Vlado Lisjak won the Olympic title at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, while Josip Čorak won silver at the 1972 Munich Games.

Ivan Huklek won 5-3 against American John Walter Stefanowicz and Uzbekistan's Rustam Asakalov 4-1 on Wednesday, before losing 1-7 to Ukrainian Jean Belenyuk in the semifinals, while Datunashvili defeated Algerian Bachira Sid Azara 5-1 in the repechage after a loss to Belenyuk in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Datunashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and played for that country until 2018, when he changed his citizenship and has since represented Serbia.

Belenjuk and Hungarian Viktor Lorincz will fight for gold in Tokyo.

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Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Croatian Wrestler Ivan Huklek in Olympic Semifinal!

August 3, 2021 - Croatian wrestler Ivan Huklek advanced to the semifinals of the Olympic Games in Tokyo!

Huklek defeated Uzbekistan's Rustam Asakalov 4-1 in the Greco-Roman quarter-final in the 87kg category,  reports HRT.

Huklek thus reached his national team colleague Božo Starčević, who also achieved the greatest success of Croatian wrestling by placing in the semifinals of the Olympic tournament. Starčević did not win a medal in Rio, and Huklek will have two chances to win a medal in Tokyo.

After achieving his first Olympic victory in the round of 16 against US Marine John Walter Stefanowitz by 5-3, he dominated Uzbekistan's Asakalov, a bronze medalist from the 2016 World Champs, in the quarterfinals.

"The first fight against the American was difficult because it was the first fight. Against the Uzbek, I felt I was superior; I realized that superiority and deservedly won. I fought him in Poland two or three months ago and lost, but I wanted him in Tokyo. So the coach and I agreed on excellent tactics against him," said the 24-year-old from Sesvete, who will meet Ukrainian Zhan Belenyuk in the fight for the final.

The 30-year-old Ukrainian is a big favorite for the gold because he is a two-time world champion and Olympic medalist from Rio.

"I've fought him twice already. He's a fighter just waiting for a fight on the ground, and I’m better at standing, so it’s going to be interesting and tense," Huklek said.

At the end of the fight, Ivan looked up and kissed the sky, paying tribute to his sister Marta (11), who passed away this spring, just a few days before Ivan's qualifications for Tokyo.

Ivan Huklel will compete in the semifinals around noon Croatia time.

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Sunday, 21 March 2021

Croatia's Best Wrestler Božo Starčević Secures Tokyo Olympic Spot!

March 21, 2021 - Croatian Greco-Roman wrestler (up to 77 kg) Božo Starčević advanced to the finals of the qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games and thus secured a spot in Tokyo!

HRT reports that the current best Croatian wrestler and the fourth-ever Croatian wrestler to compete in the Olympic Games (Rio 2016) will fight for gold in Budapest against Russian wrestler Alexander Chekhirkin, who defeated Bulgarian Aik Mnatsakanian in points in a controversial semifinal (7-6).

Starčević defeated the Czech wrestler Oldrich Varga in points in the semifinal (3-1). He was better than the Pole Mateusz Lukasz Wolny and led a difficult fight in the quarterfinals against the Azerbaijani wrestler Sanan Sulejmanov. It ended 1-1, but Starčević went further because he was the last to score a point.

Of the other four Croatian representatives, Marko Koščević reached the bronze medal in the category up to 130 kg, and in Sunday's repechage, Ivan Lizatović (up to 60 kg) and Danijel Janečić (up to 67 kg) will be able to make it to the medal match.

Lizatović was pulled into the repechage by German Etienne Kinsinger, who defeated him in the quarterfinals (8-2). Janečić lost in the quarterfinals to Georgian Ramaz Zoidze (8-0), who easily advanced to the finals, allowing the Croatian wrestler to continue. Lizatović will fight against the Estonian Helary Maegisalu, and Janečić will have to defeat the Ukrainian wrestler Artur Politajev.

Unfortunately, only the finalists of the tournament in Budapest win a spot at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, meaning neither Lizatović nor Janečić will advance to Tokyo.

Koščević was also supposed to be given a repechage round, but the Norwegian Oskar Marvik handed him the match without a fight.

Ivan Huklek lost the first match in the category up to 87 kg and was defeated by Armenian Artur Šahinjan on points (6-2).

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