The tournament will feature the world's best men and women freestyle wrestlers, competing in the world's most famous sports arena, Madison Square Garden. The World Championships of Freestyle Wrestling is also a qualifying event for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Women's wrestling will be contested in the Olympics for the first time ever in Athens.
Iran will enter a full seven-athlete men's freestyle team in the competition. The preliminary roster from Iran features four past World Champions: Mohammed Talaei at 60 kg/132 lbs., Ali Reza Dabir at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Mehdi Hajizadeh Joybari at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Ali Reza Heidari at 96 kg/211.25 lbs.
Talaei won a World gold medal in 1997 at 58 kg/127.75 pounds. He was a 1998 Goodwill Games champion. He competed in the last two Olympic Games, placing sixth at the 1996 Olympics and fourth at the 2000 Olympic Games.
Dabir was a gold medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games, as well as the 1998 World Championships. He also was a World silver medalist in 1999, 2001 and 2002. He has won four World Cup gold medals, and was a two-time Junior World Champion (1994, 1997).
Hajizadeh won a World gold medal in 2002, and was sixth at the 2001 World Championships. He was the Asian Junior champion in 2000 and Asian Senior champion in 2001. He also was second at the 2001 Junior World Championships. Also listed by the Iranian Federation at this weight class is Hadi Habibi, so there is a possibility that Habibi may compete instead of Hajizadeh.
Heidari claimed his World title in 1998, and boasts two World silver medals (1999 and 2002) and a World bronze medal in 1997. He was sixth in the 2000 Olympic Games. He won gold medals at the 1998 and 2002 Asian Games and boasts three World Cup titles.
Rounding out the Iranian tentative lineup are Mohammed Aslani at 55 kg/121 lbs. and either Pejman Dorostkar, Majid Khodaie or Feridoun Ghanbaripirsarabi at 84 kg/185 lbs.
Because of deadlines that have arrived, numerous team rosters are coming into USA Wrestling on a daily basis now. USA Wrestling will make special announcements on the rosters of the most powerful teams that are expected to challenge for team and individual titles. In addition, information on the other teams that send athlete information will be posted as a group.
A total of 53 nations have sent in their preliminary registration materials to USA Wrestling, indicating their plans to attend the competition. Other nations are expected to indicate their desire to participate in the upcoming weeks.
The nations who have confirmed participation at this time are: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iceland, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Phillippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2003 World Championships of Freestyle Wrestling. Organizers are expecting a sellout for the Saturday and Sunday sessions. To get the good seats now, call 1-877-NYC2003.
ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
Men's freestyle team
55 kg/121 lbs. - Mohammed Aslani
60 kg/132 lbs. - Mohammed Talaei
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Ali Reza Dabir
74 kg/163 lbs. - Hadi Habibi or Mehdi Hajizadeh Joybari
84 kg/185 lbs. - Pejman Dorostkar, Majid Khodaie or Feridoun Ghanbaripirsarabi
96 kg/211.25 lbs. - Ali Reza Heidari
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Ali Reza Rezaei
Coaches - Mohsen Farehvashifashandi, Mohsen Kaveh, Taghi AkbarnejadGharejlar, Ayatollah Vagozarireikande, Shahram Nikbvarkhbidgoli
Referees - Bahman Talebighazanalla, Hojatolla Goudarzi, Mehdi Khaledi, Ali Akbar Tahmassebi
Team Leaders - Morteza Faraji, Mohammadreza Emami Taleghani
Delegation - Amir Hamidi, Reza Gholami, Teymour Ziaazari, Javadi Ebrahim, Kazemi Sadredin
... Payvand News - 7/9/03 ... --