Yazdani heading to Budapest in pursuit of Paris ticket

Iranian wrestling sensation Hassan Yazdani will participate in the Polyák Imre & Varga János Memorial tournament – starting June 6 in Budapest – to have his fitness assessed for the Paris Olympics, the country’s Wrestling Federation announced.
The Ranking Series event will come nine months after the Iranian made his last international appearance at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, where he cruised to the freestyle 86kg gold.
Having won the Olympic quota thanks to a silver medal in last year’s World Championships, Yazdani had to undergo a surgery on his injured shoulder right after the Asian Games and only made his long-awaited return to the mat last week.
A winner of a national-high nine world and Olympic medals, Yazdani posted a video on his Instagram account on Thursday, showing him in action with his sparring partner.
Yazdani will be the sole Iranian 86kg wrestler in Budapest, the federation said, adding: “If his health and fitness levels are approved of by the national team coaching staff, he will be a part of the freestyle squad at the Paris Olympics.”
The Iranian wrestling body still said a domestic trial remains on the cards, should Yazdani fail to be fully fit for the Budapest event – which will begin 50 days before the opening ceremony of the Games in the French capital – meaning two-time world 92kg champion Kamran Qassempour could still fancy his chances for the 86kg place in Paris.
Qassempour, who had to deal with his own injury woes – which ruled him out of the world title defense in Belgrade last September – moved up to the Olympic 97kg weight class for the start of the new year.
However, his below-par results in January’s Zagreb Open, including a comprehensive defeat against American great Kyle Snyder, saw Iranian prodigy Amir-Ali Azarpira – gold medalist in the Croatian capital – emerge as the frontrunner for the Iranian 97kg slot in the Olympics.
Yazdani will be eager to seek a third successive Olympic medal in August after his familiar foe David Taylor, who enjoys a 5-1 head-to-head record against the Iranian, was stunned by fellow-American Aaron Brooks in the U.S. Olympic trails earlier in April.
A second Olympic gold will see Yazdani overtake Iranian taekwondo legend Hadi Saei as the country’s most-decorated athlete in the history of the Games.

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