Berg Among Four Who Announced Retirement in Oslo

By Vinay Siwach

OSLO, Norway (October 14) -- The Oslo World Championships witnessed a special moment on the penultimate day of the competition when Norway's Olympic medalist Stig BERGE (NOR) announced his retirement from the sport in front of his home fans. The Jordal Amfi arena saw a sea of fans bid farewell to the Greco-Roman wrestler who won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics 2016. 

In his final tournament, Berge was looking good for a medal but his run was cut short when he suffered a loss in the quarterfinals. The hopes of a repechage round were also dashed when lost in the semifinal of the 67kg weight class.

President Lalovic welcomed King of Norway HARALD V to the '21 World Championshipns in Oslo. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

On the special occasion, the King of Norway HARALD V was also present in the arena and was greeted by the president of United World Wrestling Nenad LALOVIC. The two were given a grand reception in the arena and both watched the bouts on Saturday.

The 38-year-old, who left his singlets on the mat Sunday, brought his son to the mat as the crowd gave him standing ovation for a career which included a bronze medal at the Olympics, bronze at World Championships and three silver medals at European Championships.

He was not the only wrestler to retire in Oslo. Three other wrestlers also hanged their bouts from the sport.

Rio Olympian Chakir ANSARI (MOR) signaled his retirement by leaving his shoes on the mat at the '21 Oslo World Championships. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Freestyle wrestler Chakir ANSARI (MOR), Egypt women's wrestling legend Samar HAMZA (EGY) and Japan's Greco-Roman wrestler SHIYOMADA (JPN) also ended their careers with Ansari being the first of the lot.

Ansari wrestled on the first day of the competition and after his loss to Arman ELOYAN (FRA), he left his shoes on the mat, a mark of retirement in wrestling. Incidentally, the two-time Olympian wrestled for France until 2014 before moving to Morocco.

Hamza had a fairytale ending to her career, etching her name in history books as she became her country's first-ever female wrestler to win a medal at the annual event. She defeated Kiran GODARA (IND) in the 76kg bronze medal bout to return home with the bronze. Hamza has previously wrestled at two Olympics and finished 10th in Tokyo.

Shiyomada could have shocked the world when he led Olympic champion 6-1 in their opening round bout. He then tried a big body-lock throw but ended on his back, a position Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) held and secured a pin for the win. In the repechage round, Shiyomada lost to Hasart JAFAROV (AZE).


What's the driving force behind Vlasov's attempt to win a third Olympic title?

By Eric Olanowski

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 9) -- Roman VLASOV (RWF) was denied a chance to go for a third Olympic gold earlier this year, but made sure he would not miss out on his shot at winning a third world title.

Vlasov chalked up a meticulous and hard-fought 2-1 victory over ‘20 European champion Sanan SULEYMANOV (AZE) to take the 77kg at October’s World Championships in Oslo.

"I was super tired, I couldn't even celebrate as I usually do," Vlasov said. "I left all my power and energy on the mat."

Prior to the Tokyo snub, Vlasov considered ending his career. But the desire to achieve his dream of matching the legendary Alexander KARELIN (RWF) with three Olympic golds inspired him to reset his sights for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Like his hero and son’s god father, Karelin, Vlasov is a native of Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia and was mentored by the great coach Viktor KUZNETSOV.

Oslo would be the first stop on the long road to Paris, as it would provide confirmation that he could live up to his own expectations. A world champion in 2011 and 2015, he finished out of the medals in 2017 and 2019.

"The last time I won the World Championships was in 2015, before in 2011. It’s been a long time," Vlasov said. "I missed these emotions. To be the best in the world is the thing I’ve been dreaming about. It’s the thing I think about when I wake up in the morning before going to training."

After barreling through the rounds, winning each of his four matches by at least seven points, Vlasov found a formidable foe in Suleymanov, this year's European bronze medalist and the ‘19 U23 world silver medalist.

Vlasov, a four-time European champion who turned 31 in Oslo, had the first chance in par terre, but could only get a 1-point stepout after walking the airborne Suleymanov over the edge.

But Suleymanov had no answer when the roles were reversed in the second period, and Vlasov clinched the win when he deftly evaded a stepout attempt in the final 20 seconds.

"The final match did not go as planned," Vlasov said. "I had to wrestle super hard to keep that one point scored. Patience brought the gold."

Patience and appreciation of each victory along the way are what will look to get him to the Paris Games, a lesson he learned from the Tokyo debacle.

"The last Olympic cycle I made the mistake of counting down the days to the Olympics," Vlasov said. "This time I just enjoy every title. Today I am the happiest man on Earth, tomorrow we’ll be the new day, the new qualification for the new world championships. "The Olympics are the dream of every athlete. I’ve been there twice, and I want to become a three-time Olympic champion. But it’s better not to go ahead of time."