To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports


  RIGA (May 4) - Hungary's Arpad Ritter scored at the final click of overtime to hold onto his 74-kg European freestyle wrestling crown as the continental meet came to a close in Riga. But Turkey's Arif Kama, the defending champion at 60 kg, did not have an answer for the inspired wrestling of Anatolie Guidea at 60 kg and fell 3-0 at RTU International Exhibition Hall.

  Meanwhile, Khadshimourad Gatsalov kept the light-heavyweight crown in Russia by stepping over Fatih Cakiroglu's gut wrench attempt in extra time to nail down a 4-1 win at 96 kg. In a tactical match-up between experienced veterans at 74 kg, Leipold held a 1-0 lead after regulation, but Ritter grabbed a 2-1 lead midway through extra time.

  Leipold, seeking the fourth continental crown of his storied career, came back to even the tally and make him the winner on criteria in the event of a draw. But, Ritter was not done as he dove in for a double-leg with only 10 seconds remaining. Leipold countered with a switch, but Ritter came out on top as time ran out for the win.

  In the match for third place, Murad Gaidarov of Belarus, the runner-up to Ritter last year, fashioned a 4-1 win over Russia's Zaur Botaev, the European champion and world bronze medalist at 66 kg last year. At 60 kg, Guidea of Bulgaria, who lost to Kama in the 2002 and 2000 European meets, scored with an early gut wrench and did not give the defending champion from Turkey a chance to mount a comeback attempt. In the match for third place, Romania's Petru Toarca scored with a half-nelson at 7:15 to secure a 3-1 win over David Pogosjan of Georgia, who had won European titles in 1997 and 1998.

  At 96 kg, Gatsalov, the junior world champion 2001, led all the way with single-leg takedowns on both sides of the intermission, but he needed a stepover counter to Cakiroglu's gut wrench to secure a 4-1 win at 6:21 of extra time. Gatsalov's win gave the Russian delegation its third title of the meet
in the men's competition. n the third-place match, world bronze medalist Vadym Tasoyev of Ukraine had little trouble in posting a 4-1 win against Austria's Radovan Valach.

  In the women's competition at 51 kg, Natalya Karamtchakova gave Russia a second title of the women's competition with a 6-0 triumph over Sweden's Ida Hellstrom, who took home her third silver medal from the European championships. Germany's Alexandra Demmel cranked Anne Deluntsch of France over with aeverse headlock twice and held on for 6-5 win and the bronze medal at 51 kg.

  At 59 kg, Monika Michalik of Poland, the silver medalist last year, flattened Germany's national team newcomer Stephanie Stuber at 4:39 for the championship. Meanwhile, Ukraine's Olga Krygina, a runner-up at last year's European junior meet, fashioned a 4-0 win against Latvia's Kristine Odrina for third place,

  At 67 kg, defending champion Lise Legrand of France was never in trouble against Valeriya Zlatova as she cobbled together a 3-0 win despite the Ukrainian youngster痴 attempts to unsettle the veteran. In the match for third place, Ewelina Pruszko of Poland, fourth place a year ago, improved one place with a 3-0 win over Germany's Annika Oertli. In the women's heavyweight final, Germany's Anita Schaetzle overwhelmed Katerina Halova of the Czech Republic with throws and tilts for an 11-0 win in just under four minutes.

  Despite the loss, Halova's silver medal was the best-ever showing by a Czech female wrestler in a major international competition. In the match for third place, Bulgaria's Stanka Hristova, a junior European champion last year, controlled the action for more than five minutes, but Monika Kowalska of Poland scored with late throw to secure a 3-1 triumph.