Croatian Wrestler Ivan Huklek in Olympic Semifinal!

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Luka Stanzl / PIXSELL
Luka Stanzl / PIXSELL

Huklek defeated Uzbekistan’s Rustam Asakalov 4-1 in the Greco-Roman quarter-final in the 87kg category,  reports HRT.

Huklek thus reached his national team colleague Božo Starčević, who also achieved the greatest success of Croatian wrestling by placing in the semifinals of the Olympic tournament. Starčević did not win a medal in Rio, and Huklek will have two chances to win a medal in Tokyo.

After achieving his first Olympic victory in the round of 16 against US Marine John Walter Stefanowitz by 5-3, he dominated Uzbekistan’s Asakalov, a bronze medalist from the 2016 World Champs, in the quarterfinals.

“The first fight against the American was difficult because it was the first fight. Against the Uzbek, I felt I was superior; I realized that superiority and deservedly won. I fought him in Poland two or three months ago and lost, but I wanted him in Tokyo. So the coach and I agreed on excellent tactics against him,” said the 24-year-old from Sesvete, who will meet Ukrainian Zhan Belenyuk in the fight for the final.

The 30-year-old Ukrainian is a big favorite for the gold because he is a two-time world champion and Olympic medalist from Rio.

“I’ve fought him twice already. He’s a fighter just waiting for a fight on the ground, and I’m better at standing, so it’s going to be interesting and tense,” Huklek said.

At the end of the fight, Ivan looked up and kissed the sky, paying tribute to his sister Marta (11), who passed away this spring, just a few days before Ivan’s qualifications for Tokyo.

Ivan Huklel will compete in the semifinals around noon Croatia time.

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