By Oleksandr HONCHARUK, The Day
A great success was achieved at the Eurorean championship by the Ukrainian
free-style wrestling team which finished first for the second year running,
overshadowing strong teams from Russia and Bulgaria. The Day's correspondent
met the president of the Ukrainian Wrestling Association Borys Savlokhov
and asked him about this achievement.
"Mr. Savlokhov, did you expect this?"
"The boys were literally bursting to fight, for they, as you remember,
lost to Russian wrestlers in the World Cup finals and sought revenge. Our
team's line-up remains almost unchanged, but the result turned out entirely
"We have three champions, and, of course, they must have come to
their victories in different ways."
"I am very pleased with Oleksandr Zakharuk who won a gold medal for
the third time on the European mat.
"Even in the bouts where he was losing by one or two points, you could
see he would make up for it and wind up victorious.
"Elbrus Tadeyev, who became world champion back in 1995, also displayed
a great will to win. He was somewhat unlucky after 1995 and walked in the
shadows, as it were. As we see, Elbrus made a great effort and managed
to re-enter the wrestlers' elite. His character is OK, too: he was once
losing 0:6 in a bout, came forward 9:6, and then finished with a clean
"But, to my mind, it is Zaza Zazirov who will remember the final victory
most vividly. Ten seconds before the end of the bout with the Russian Alaverdiyev,
with the score in favor of the latter, Zaza was put on the referee's position
mat, and the Russian was expecting a victory. But an incredible thing happened.
Zaza managed to rise, clinch the rival by the head and make a throw worth
two points. A unique case! Fans in the capital of Belarus gave him a thunderous
"And were the Russians really 100% sure of winning the team event?"
"There is a well-known wrestler and member of the Russian Wrestling
Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili. As long ago as last year, after our success
in Budapest, he said something about Ukraine winning first place for the
first and last time. Imagine how surprised he was when he, together with
General Aleksandr Korzhakov, came to Minsk on the third day of the competition
only to learn that four Ukrainian athletes at a time will be fighting for
the champion's title."
"But still, our closest neighbors almost twisted us round their little
" 'Almost' doesn't count. The point is the new rules allow removing
both rivals from the mat for non-performance of techniques. Can you imagine:
equally strong athletes, who have already beaten all the others, are wrestling
for first place. But they fail to beat each other. Does it mean they should
be pronounced losers? For instance, in the final-qualifying bout of superheavyweights,
with the score 0:0, the Russian Andrei Shumilin whispered to our Merab
Valiyev: look, let me perform a one-point technique, and I will return
it to you later. But let the strongest win during overtime. But in fact
the Russian "took" a point but didn't give it back. Then he apologized
that he had "got stuck..."
"All judges, coaches and athletes see the injustice of this rule,
but it still exists and forces wrestlers to resort to these petty tricks,
"It has long been the subject of discussion, and I think this rule will
"And what is new in wrestling and what trends have appeared in its
"The role of the referee has increased dramatically, and an athlete
who doesn't know how to wrestle in this condition cannot hope for finishing
high in a tournament."
"What is in store for our national team in the Sydney Olympics?"
"It will be doomed to success if only it is as strong-willed and closely-knit
as in Minsk."