Uzbekistan’s Rio 2016 bronze medallists Magomed Ibragimov and Ikhtiyor Navruzov won Asian Wrestling Championships titles at Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan on a night when their country provided four finalists in five men’s freestyle finals.
Ibragimov expended every ounce of energy to hold on for a 5-3 victory over Iran’s Mojtaba Goleij in the 97 kilogram, remaining prone on the mat for a lengthy period after his victory at the Kozhomkul Sports Palace.
Navrusov earned a 3-0 win in the 70kg final against South Korea’s Lee Seungbong, whom he claimed had oiled his body to make it difficult to get a grip.
The two other Uzbekistan fighters who reached the first day of men’s freestyle finals, though, had to settle for silver medals.
Makhmudjon Shavkatov was beaten 4-2 in the 57kg final by North Korea’s Kang Kumsong, who shed tears of joy, and Rashid Kurbanov went down 5-0 in the 79kg final to Iran’s Ezzatollah Akbarizarinkolaei before defaulting with a knee injury.
The other gold medal at stake on the fifth and penultimate day of competition went to five-time Asian medallist Daulet Niyazbekov of Kazakhstan.
He clamped a front headlock in the second period on Daichi Takatani of Japan and reeled off five consecutive rolls to win the 65kg gold with an 11-0 technical fall with just over two minutes of the bout remaining.
In the final match of the night, Ibragimov had taken a 4-0 lead after one period on a step-out, an activity clock point and a takedown.
But in the second period, Goleij, a 2017 world under-23 champion, went on the offensive.
The Iranian scored a takedown with 44 seconds left, then forced a step-out with 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
A final takedown attempt came up just short as Ibragimov managed to barely remain on his feet.
Ibragimov collapsed to the mat and remained prone as the referees reviewed an Iranian challenge of the final move, which was refused.
After having his hand raised, Ibragimov again dropped to the mat, where he stayed during the medal ceremony for the previous weight class.
"I wouldn't say it was the most, but it was one of the hardest minutes of my career," Ibragimov, winner of this event last year in New Delhi, said.
"After the wrestling, I couldn't leave the mat and had to stay there.
"Only now do I feel pretty good.
"Before that, I was super tired.
"I'm really satisfied because the Asian Championships is one of the most important tournaments for wrestlers."
After earning two of his points with Lee on the activity clock and one on a head-butt penalty, Navrusov commented:
"I found that my opponent was oiled and he was sweaty, and I didn't want to take a risk.
"That's why I started to act passive.
"I just tried to keep my poise and I succeeded."
Navrusov said that winning the gold in the neighboring country of Kyrgyzstan made it a bit more special.
"As we are neighbours and we are close, my relatives came and also my coach was supporting me," he said.
"I felt as if I was back in Uzbekistan in my home country."
Uzbekistan wrestlers came away with a medal from every category on the night as Temurjon Usmonohunov won a bronze in the 65kg category, defeating North Korea’s Kim Kukgwangby.
The other 65kg bronze went to India’s Bajrang Bajrang, who beat Yones Emamichoghaei of Iran 10-4.
In the 57kg category bronze medal matches, Zhandos Islmailov of Kazakhstan beat Nader Hajiag Haniasamakoushi of Iran 10-3, and Japan’s Toshihiro Hasegawa earned victory over South Korea’s Song Hyeonsik.
Kumar Vinod won India’s second medal of the night as he took bronze in the 70kg category, beating home wrestler Elaman Dogdurbekuulu.
The other bronze medal went to Kazakhstan’s Meirzhan Ashirov, who beat Mongolia’s. Byambadorj Bad Erdene 4-3.
Tsubasa Asai earned a bronze medal in the 79kg category with a 7-1 win over South Korea’s Lee Yunseok, while Mongolia’s Turbold Ganbold took the other bronze by walkover.
Kim Jaegang of South Korea claimed a bronze medal in the 97kg category, defeating Mamed Ibragimov of Kazakhstan.
The other bronze medal went to Takeshi Yamaguchi of Japan, who beat home wrestler Aibek Usupov 6-3.