Two more wrestlers qualify Rio quota spots

Published 4 April 2016 (AEDT)

Wrestling Australia's Sahit Prizreni © AOC

WRESTLING: Australia has qualified another two wrestlers to compete at this year’s Rio Olympics, including an athlete who carried the flag for his former country of Albania at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Victorians Sahit Prizreni and Talgat Ilyasov both booked their tickets for Rio when they made the final of the 65kg and 74kg division respectively at the African/Oceania Olympic qualifiers in Algiers, Algeria.

It will be Prizreni’s third Olympics, but his first for Australia after he competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics for Albania.

It will be Ilyasov’s first Olympics, although he should have made his debut in Athens in 2004.

On the eve of those Olympics Ilyasov was injured, and had to withdraw. He retired from the sport soon after, devastated at having missed his Olympic opportunity, but then returned to the sport two years ago.

Australia will now have four wrestlers competing in Rio, after Greco Roman wreslters Ivan Popov and Vinod Kumar both qualified on the opening day of competition.

It is a vast improvement on London four year ago, when Australia could only qualify one wrestler.

Wrestling Australia High Performance Manager, Alan Landy, said he was overjoyed with the results.

“It has been four long years since the disappointment of only qualifying one wrestler for the 2012 Olympic Games,” Landy said.

“As the National High Performance Manager, appointed after the 2012 Olympics, my brief was to create a high performance program that gave elite athletes a pathway and much needed support in order to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.

“With almost no funding compared to all the other combat sports, Wrestling Australia has risen from the poor performance of 2012 to perform brilliantly in Algiers.

“This is a great day for Australian wrestling.”

Ross Solly for Wrestling Australia

 

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