No Olympic Bronze Medal for Croatian Wrestler Ivan Huklek

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Luka Stanzl / PIXSELL
Luka Stanzl / PIXSELL

Ivan Huklek, 24, failed to win the bronze medal at the Games in Tokyo in the 87kg category, where he was defeated 6-1 by naturalized Serbian Zurab Datunashvili.

The three-time and current European champion, who started wrestling under the Serbian flag in 2019, gained a 6-0 advantage in a minute and a half in the first round. Datunashvili brought Huklek to the ground from the counterattack and made three consecutive throws for two points.

In the second round, Huklek managed to earn only one point on the passivity of Datunashvili, and when he got the opportunity to fight on the ground, he failed. 

Huklek was the second wrestler to get the opportunity to fight for an Olympic medal under the Croatian flag, but he, like Božo Starčević in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, lost the fight for the bronze medal.

This was Datunashvili’s third appearance at the Olympic Games, and he won a medal for the first time. When he wrestled for his native Georgia, he won seventh place in 2012 in London in the 74kg category, and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro he was 18th in the 75kg category. Datunashvili won the bronze medal fight in a rematch. 

This medal would have been the first Olympic medal for Croatian wrestling since independence, and the third for Croatian wrestlers. Vlado Lisjak won the Olympic title at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, while Josip Čorak won silver at the 1972 Munich Games.

Ivan Huklek won 5-3 against American John Walter Stefanowicz and Uzbekistan’s Rustam Asakalov 4-1 on Wednesday, before losing 1-7 to Ukrainian Jean Belenyuk in the semifinals, while Datunashvili defeated Algerian Bachira Sid Azara 5-1 in the repechage after a loss to Belenyuk in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Datunashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and played for that country until 2018, when he changed his citizenship and has since represented Serbia.

Belenjuk and Hungarian Viktor Lorincz will fight for gold in Tokyo.

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