Ukrainian MP Beleniuk grabs wrestling gold

Published August 5, 2021
ZHAN Beleniuk celebrates his victory.—AP
ZHAN Beleniuk celebrates his victory.—AP

CHIBA: Ukraine’s Zhan Beleniuk went one step further than his silver medal in 2016 by winning the Greco-Roman middleweight gold at the Tokyo Olympics by beating Hungary’s Viktor Lorincz in the final on Wednesday.

Beleniuk, a twice world champion and Ukraine’s first Black member of parliament elected in 2019, was in control throughout. At 1-1 in the second period, he profited from a par terre, turning the Hungarian twice to get four points and win 5-1.

The elated 30-year-old celebrated by performing an impromptu Hopak — a traditional dance — on the mat with the Ukrainian flag draped around him.

“It’s an incredible feeling, a dream come true after the silver in Rio,” Beleniuk told reporters. “I wanted to start strong... Now I’m an Olympic champion.”

There would be no second gold for Ukraine on the day, however, after Mohammadreza Geraei of Iran defeated Parviz Nasibov 9-1 to win the men’s Greco-Roman 67kg class.

Yukako Kawai of Japan held on to defeat Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan 4-3 in the women’s freestyle 62kg final. It was Japan’s first wrestling gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2021

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