Russia continued their excellent start to the Greco Roman wrestling events here today, following on from their success on the opening day of competition with a further two golds, as hosts Azerbaijan also won gold and silver.
Having earned three of the four gold medals on offer yesterday Russia were clearly the team to beat today, but their 66 kilograms division wrestler Artem Surkov had the backing of the Azeri crowd in his gold medal match.
It owed to the appearance of Armenia’s Migran Arutyunyan in the final, who had knocked out home favourite Hasan Aliyev in the last-four, and the wrestler was greeted by boos prior to the tie as he attempted to win his country’s first gold medal of the Games.
Surkov proved too strong, however, as he secured a 3-0 victory over Arutyunyan, with the Armenian leaving the arena to further jeers.
Aliyev recovered from his semi-final exit to beat Serbia’s Alexsandar Maksimoivc to add the host’s medal tally with one of the two bronze medals on offer, with the other taken by Istvan Levai, who earned Slovakia’s first European Games medal.
Davit Chakvetadze made it five Russian golds in two days after he took a 3-0 lead in the under 85kg division over Ukraine’s Zhan Beleniuk, the 2014 European champion, before holding off a fightback to win 3-2.
Metehan Basar of Turkey and Germany’s Ramsin Azizsir secure the two bronze medals with 3-0 and 3-1 triumphs over Armenia’s Maksim Manukyan and Croatia’s Nenad Zugaj respectively.
Sandwiched in between the two Russian golds was success for the home nation, as Elvin Mursaliyev defeated Serbia’s Viktor Nemes 5-1 to earn Azerbaijan’s second wrestling title of the Games in the under 75kg division.
Mursaliyev received his medal from Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, while the bronze medals were won by Ukraine’s Dmytro Pyshkov and Russia’s Chingiz Labazanov after they recorded 3-1 wins over Germany’s Pascal Eisele and Georgia’s Zurabi Datunashvili.
"I am immensely happy to win the gold medal in my motherland at the first European Games,” said Mursaliyev.
“I didn't let the home crowd be ashamed.
“Everything was super.
“I knew that my nation is behind me and I put all my effort in to not letting them down."
Turkey’s Riza Kayaalp, however, denied Azerbaijan gold in the 130kg division by beating Sabahi Shariati 3-1 but earn the acclaim of the crowd by brandishing both Turkish and an Azeri flags in celebration.
Estonia’s Heiki Nabi and Ioseb Chugoshvili of Belarus took bronze medals.
June 2015: Russia bag gold medal hat-trick on opening day of Baku 2015 Greco-Roman wrestling action