WHAT: 2014 FILA World Championships (freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling)
WHERE: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
WHEN: first round competition begins at 11 PM (CT); subsequent rounds continue later in the evening/morning
HOW TO WATCH: WATCH IT LIVE AT 11PM (CT) or on Flowrestling
Tony Ramos tremendous 2014 hits its next event -- perhaps the biggest yet -- tonight/tomorrow, as the former Iowa wrestler heads to Tashkent, Uzbekistan to compete in the 57 kg freestyle division at the 2014 World Championships. Ramos, of course, ended his college career with wins over Tyler Graff at the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, finally winning his first individual championships. He followed that up by winning a spot U.S. team at 57 kg at the World Team Trials in May -- his first major freestyle event in several years. He also managed to win top honors at his tune-up event for the World Championships, the Canada Cup.
The competition at the World Championships will be the fiercest yet, obviously, with several former World and/or Olympic champions dotting the field. Fortunately, Ramos managed to get a pretty friendly draw for his inaugural go-round at the World Championships. Ramos is in the bottom half of the draw, while three of the toughest wrestlers in the field are in the upper half of the draw. Defending World Champion Hassan Rahimi (Iran) is in that upper half, as are Viktor Lebedev (Russia), a World Champion in 2010 and 2011 (and a bronze medalist in 2009), and Kyong Il-Yang (South Korea), a World Champion in 2009 and an Olympic bronze medalist in 2012. The toughest wrestler in Ramos' half of the draw is Vladimir Khinchegashvili (let's just call him Vladimir K), a Georgian wrestler currently ranked #1 in FILA's world rankings for this weight. (FILA's rankings are notoriously imperfect, because they only account for results in "official" FILA events, but there's also no particularly good way to rank wrestlers, either.) Even there, though, Ramos is fortunate -- based on the way the bracket sets up, he can't see Vladimir K until the semifinals.
Ramos' first round opponent is Bekhbayar Erdenebat, a Mongolian wrestler who was a 2010 Junior World Champion and a 9th-place finisher at last year's FILA World Championships. He should represent a very solid challenge for Ramos right off the bat, so Tony will need to be sharp from the get-go if he wants to make his stay at the World Championships last longer than an eye-blink.
Ramos has faced a few of the other wrestlers in the field -- Canada's Steven Takahashi and Germany's Marcel Ewald -- at the Canada Cup. He recorded a 6-1 victory over Takahashi and a narrow 2-1 win over Ewald. Ramos is unfamiliar with the rest of the field, but that can definitely work to his advantage as well -- they're also unfamiliar with him and what he brings to the table. American wrestlers have made a splash in their debuts before, so we certainly wouldn't count Ramos out here. That said, it will be a mighty challenge for him, especially against a field with as much quality as this one. But Tony has been on one hell of a roll this year, so why start betting against him now?
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Here is a link to ALL of the brackets. Brackets have only been posted for Ramos, Marable, Ruth and Dlagnev. We will have a follow up post tomorrow once Brent Metcalf's draw is released.
Here's the complete broadcast schedule.
We'll try to keep Ramos' results updated in the comments.
BONUS! You know why we have a good feeling about the U.S. performance at this year's World Championships? Because the coaching staff includes both Tom Brands AND Cael Sanderson! The rest of the world is gonna tremble in the face of that Mega-Powers alliance!