Rio 2016 gold medalist Khinchegashvili missing UWW World Olympics qualifying
Rio 2016 gold medalist Vladimer Khinchegashvili was excluded from qualifying for the United World Wrestling World Olympics this week for Tokyo 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Georgian, who won the 57kg freestyle title at the 2016 Olympics, had planned to compete in the 65kg division at the Sofia event, which starts tomorrow and ends Sunday, May 9.
Khinchegashvili is among Olympic medalists who have yet to secure a quota place for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games, which are slated to open on July 23.
He is set to miss the competition at Tokyo 2020 unless a Georgian athlete claims the available quota and is chosen before that wrestler.
“I can just say that in life nobody knows what lies ahead,” said the 30-year-old.
“I am grateful for everything.
“I hope my compatriot can still capture the license.”
Wrestlers from 21 different nations put the finishing touches on their training before Thursday’s start of the #WrestleSofia World Olympic Qualification 🇧🇬 (May 6-9).
– United World Wrestling (@wrestling) May 4, 2021
A total of 36 Tokyo 2020 quotas are on offer in the World Qualifier – 18 in each of the weight classes that will be contested in the Bulgarian capital.
The finalists from each division will earn a place at the Games.
Japan’s Yuki Takahashi, former world champion, hopes to take full advantage of the second chance given to her after being nominated to his country’s team for the event to replace the Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist, Rei Higuchi.
Takahashi was chosen by the Japanese Wrestling Federation after Higuchi failed to match the weight in the Asian qualifiers in Almaty last month.
“Honestly, as an athlete, I was happy that the opportunity presented itself to me,” Takahashi said.
“So far the coronavirus has pushed everything back and it was difficult for me to continue.
“Sometimes I was like, ‘Why am I doing this?'”
Kim Hyeon-woo of South Korea and Colombia’s Jackeline Renteria Castillo are among the other Olympic medalists who will come to the mat in qualifying.