Iran storm to six golds as Azeris clinch top spot

22 May 2017
Iran's Saeid Fazeli reacts after beating Azerbaijan's Vugar Karamov during the men's 70kg event of Wushu at the Baku 2017.
Azerbaijan's Vugar Karamov (red) competes against Iran's Saeid Fazeli during the men's 70kg event of Wushu at the Baku 2017.

Iran dominated the wushu events on the final day of competition at the Islamic Solidarity Games on Monday as hosts Azerbaijan guaranteed their place at the top of the overall medals table.

These Solidarity Games have been something of a slow burner for Iran, who have come to the fore in the second week to comfortably claim third spot.

They were simply unstoppable in Monday's wushu sanda events, underlining their supremacy by winning all of their bouts and storming to six of seven gold medals available.   

Azerbaijan had to settle for three silvers at the Baku Sports Hall after losing all of their finals to the implacable Iranians.

Yet with only a handful of medals still to be handed out on the final day, the host nation are guaranteed to top the pile with their tally of 75 golds.

Second-placed Turkey, the only other country to claim a wushu title, can reach a maximum of 72 in the remaining tennis and table tennis finals.

Turkey's Mehmet Demirci kicked off Monday's action by dominating Kyrgyzstan's Turatbek Sulaimankul Uulu in the day's only final (48kg) without an Iranian representative.

The Turk was always in control, and knocked the Kyrgyz to the floor twice in quick succession at the start of the second round on his way to a 2-0 victory.

However, Demirci's compatriot Sadik Pehlivan was then crushed by Iran's Moein Hajizadeh Sirchi in the 52kg final.

Hajizadeh Sirchi used his superior strength and low centre of gravity to make short work of the wiry Turk and get the Iranian clean sweep underway.
The crowd made plenty of noise as Azerbaijan's Elchin Eminov took to the platform to face Iran's Mahdi Mohammadi in the 56kg final, but their cheers were insufficient to carry the home hope to victory. 

Eminov kept the Iranian on his toes in a low-scoring opening round, but Mohammadi won it before slipping through the gears in the second to also prevail 2-0.

Tunisia's Mohamed Yassine Hamzaoui forced Erfan Ahangarian off the platform in the opening exchanges of the 60kg final, but the Iranian hit back and quickly found his groove. 

Hamzaoui's frustration was palpable in the second round as Ahangarian dominated, twice taking his opponent to the mat and claiming a third gold in as many bouts for Iran.

Foroud Zafari (65kg) made it four as he brushed aside Azerbaijan's Bayram Shammadov.

The Azeri was clearly out of his depth and only scored a handful of points as he was comfortably beaten 2-0 by the Iranian.

A definite sense of deja vu was settling in as Iran's Saeid Fazeli saw off yet another Azeri challenger, Vugar Karamov, in the 70kg final. 

Fazeli looked comfortable throughout and was not even required to go the distance as the platform judge stopped the fight and awarded him victory midway through the second round.

Iran finally came up against a worthy adversary in the 75kg showpiece, as Yazdan Mirzaei grappled with Ayman Mohamed of Egypt.

The Egyptian looked set to win the first round after making an aggressive start and taking the Iranian down twice early on, but Mirzaei had other ideas.

He conjured up a well-executed flip just 18 seconds from the end of the round, getting his nose in front at just the right time.

Sneaking the opener clearly gave the Iranian a confidence boost and he ejected Mohamed from the platform twice in quick succession to also take gold and round out a stunning team performance.

Iran's wushu exploits pushed them up to 38 golds in the medal table, comfortably clear of fourth-placed Uzbekistan on 15.

©AFP Services

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