12th Belau National Games
XVI Pacific Games
World Summer Olympic Games
July 24th - August 9th 2020
On March 31, 2016, Palau’s Wrestling Team arrived in Algiers, Africa in their attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games. Only those athletes winning the top 2 spots (1st and 2nd place) in each of the greco roman style, freestyle mens and freestyle womens weight classes would be able to qualify for the Olympic Games. Representing Palau were Cristian Etpison Nicolescu, Blesam Tarkong and Skilang Temengil. All 3 wrestlers competed in the freestyle competitions only. The Head Coach was Young Ho, Ko and Team Leader John Tarkong Jr. The countries representing Oceania included American Samoa, Australia, FSM, Marshall Islands, New Zealand and Palau. Africa had 15 countries to include Egypt who was expected to sweep and dominate the tournament.
On April 03rd, Skilang Temengil paired up against African Champion Diaaeldin Abdelmottaleb of Egypt in the qualifying tournament. This was a very tough match for Temengil who last year did very well against the Egyptian at the Senior World Championships held in Las Vegas, USA. At that time, Temengil lost the match but gave the Egyptian a hard time scoring 4 points. Eventually Egypt won 9-4. This time around, the Egyptian came in very strong beating his opponents and finishing #1 in the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Algiers. In his first match against Temengil, Abdelmottaleb scored the first takedown against Temengil with subsequent points to eventually win the match with a technical score of 10-0. Temengil then went on to wrestle and defeat Marcus Carney (New Zealand) who earlier beat Maurice Abatam (Chad) in the quarter finals. In the finals, Temengil would lift and throw Carney to his back with a pin for the win. Temengil placed 3rd short of winning the top two places for the Olympic Games. Egypt went on to win the gold medal against Slim Trabelsi of Tunesia who placed 2nd overall. Both Egypt and Tunesia would win their place in the Olympic Qualification for the RIO Olympic Games.
Blesam Tarkong competed in the mens 65kg seniors freestyle division. He wrestled Haythem Dakhlaoui (Tunisia) in a very tough match but lost by technical points of 10-0. In the mens finals, it would be Amas Daniel (Nigeria) who placed 1st and Sahit Prizreni (Australia) 2nd. Both athletes from Nigeria and Australia would earn a spot in the RIO Olympic Games.
Cristian Etpison Nicolescu competed in the 57kg freestyle mens division. In his first match, he wrestled Chakir Ansari (Morrocco). Ansari would win the match against Nicolescu by technical score of 10-0. Ansari would go on to compete against Adama Diatta (Senegal) but Diatta won 1st place and Asari 2nd place. Cristian later wrestled Abdelhak Kherbache (Algeria) in the repechage match. Cristian was the first to score 2 points on a takedown but Kherbache came back to win the match. Out of 11 wrestlers, Cristian ranked 9th overall.
Among the Oceania Countries, Nathanial Tuamoheloa of American Samoa won the bronze medal in the freestyle seniors 86kg weight division. In the qualification round, Tuamoheloa wrestled Mohamed Zaghloul (Egypt) but lost the match by fall. Egypt went on to win the gold medal against Mohamed Saadaoui (Tunisia) who won silver medal. In the repechage match, Tuamoheloa was able to defeat and pin Mohammed Karbou (Morocco) to move on to the finals bronze match. Tuamoheloa was able to tie up and throw Cheikh Niang (Senegal) to his back for the win by fall (4-0) earning the bronze for American Samoa.
On day 1 of the Greco Roman Competition 130kg division, Ivan Popov (Australia) defeated Abdellatif Mohamed (Egypt) by technical fall (10-0) for the gold medal. Australia’s Vinod Kumar would also place 2nd in the Greco roman 66kg mens division against Adham Kahk (Egypt) who won gold. Australia would also win 2 other places for the Olympic Games in the mens freestyle. Sahit Prizreni (Australia) won 2nd place while Amas Daniel (Nigeria) won 1st place in the mens freestyle 65kg division. Overall, Australia would be the only Oceania country to win 4 spots for the Olympic Games, while Palau and American Samoa came close but winning only bronze.
Although Temengil fell shy of qualifying in the top 2 spots, the next 2 chances for Team Palau to qualify will be in Mongolia and Turkey. The next Olympic Qualification Tournament in Mongolia is from April 22-24, 2016. In this tournament in Mongolia, only the top 3 wrestlers per weight category will qualify for the Olympic Games. In the final qualification in Turkey, only the top 2 wrestlers per weight will qualify for the RIO Olympic Games.
At this time, our athletes would like to thank our sponsors, including PNOC, our families and everyone who made it possible for us to compete and represent Palau. Thank you for your support. It’s not over yet and our plan now is to return to Palau, train harder and to see if we can try to qualify at the next 2 qualification tournaments.