Ukraine’s Zhan Belenyuk added European gold to his 85 kilogram Greco-Roman world title after triumphing on the final day of the European Wrestling Championships at the Riga Arena.
The 25-year-old had reached the last two finals at continental level, which ended in a triumph in 2014 and a silver medal the following year.
Belenyuk moved into his third straight gold medal clash at the Championships by narrowly defeating Lithuania’s Laimutis Adomaitis 2-1 in the semi-finals.
He would meet Robert Kobliashvili after the Georgian secured the last point of his bout with Russia’s Evgeni Saleev, as their contest ended all square at 1-1.
Kobliashvili would be forced to settle for silver as Belenyuk emerged as a comfortable 5-2 winner in the final to regain his title.
“The first win is like a person’s first love – you never forget it,” Belenyuk said afterwards.
“But, this time I think I learned how to win and I know now what it takes to win.”
Poland’s Tadeusz Michalik beat Saleev 3-2 to claim the first bronze, while Germany’s Denis Maksymilian earned a place on the podium by overcoming Adomaitis 5-2.
Maksymilian’s team-mate Pascal Eisele won the 80kg title in style, as he was awarded a technical fall victory over Poland’s Edgar Babayan by the judges.
Bulgaria’s Daniel Aleksandrov replicated the feat to beat Denmark’s Rajbek Bisultanov in the first bronze medal tie, before Turkey’s Aslan Atem edged Russia’s Ramazan Abacharaev off the podium by claiming a narrow 2-1 victory.
Serbia were left frustrated as their two finalists fell to defeats and would have to make do with silver medals.
Aleksandar Maksimovic was first to fall short as he was beaten 3-0 by Armenia’s Varsham Boranyan in the 71kg final.
Azerbaijan’s Hasan Aliyev thrashed Turkey’s Yunus Ozel 8-1 to win bronze, while Hungary’s Balint Korpasi was awarded a technical fall win over Romania’s Tomi Hinoveanu.
Viktor Nemes was the second Serbian to miss out on gold, after Zurabi Datunashvili won the 75kg final due to the Georgian’s score coming from a technique of higher value, with the contest ending 2-2.
Hungary’s Laszlo Szabo beat Croatia’s Neven Zugaj 4-2 to claim the first minor medal, with Armenia’s Karapet Chalyan sealing a 4-1 win over Azerbaijan’s Elvin Mursaliev to take the second bronze.
Chalyan’s bronze was enough to help Armenia finish second in the team standings on 42 points, but Russia’s three golds yesterday saw them end top on 46.