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25
Sun, Aug

A total of 36 wrestling berths for Rio 2016 will be up for grabs this weekend when the Pan American Olympic Games qualifiers take place at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas ©UWW

Team TTO in Rio 2016
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A total of 36 wrestling berths for Rio 2016 will be up for grabs this weekend when the Pan American Olympic Games qualifiers take place at the Dr. Pepper Arena in Frisco, Texas.

The top two finishers in each of the 18 Olympic weight classes will qualify their nations to compete at August’s Olympic Games.

Teams from North America and South America will compete in men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Women’s freestyle will begin the three-day event tomorrow with men’s freestyle set for Saturday (March 5).

The tournament will conclude with the Greco-Roman competition on Sunday (March 6).

There are no true title matches with the two finalists in each weight class qualifying their countries for the Olympic Games.

Pan American countries landed six Olympic berths in women’s freestyle during the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas.

Canada qualified for the Olympics in two weight classes, the 48 kilograms and 63kg, as did Colombia in the 58kg and 75kg.

The United States and Brazil each landed one Olympic berth, both in the 75kg.

There will be six Olympic weight classes for women for the first time this year, two more than there was at the first three Olympic competitions in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

The Canadian line-up for the event in Frisco is set to include world silver medallist Dori Yeats at 69kg and world bronze medallist Jillian Gallays at 53kg.

Veteran heavyweight Erica Wiebe, who has previously been ranked number one in the world, also features.

The US qualified just one-of-six weight classes for the Olympics at the 2015 World Championships, with Adeline Gray securing a place at 75kg after winning her third global crown.

The top American wrestler in this event is two-time world bronze medallist Alyssa Lampe at 48kg.

The US squad also contains past world fifth-place finisher Alli Ragan at 59kg along with talented Texas native Tamyra Mensah at 69kg.

Mensah defeated Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Randi Miller to land the US roster spot for the event.

Pan American countries landed just two Olympic berths in men’s freestyle during the 2015 World Championships.

Those came with Americans Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder winning world titles at 74kg and 97kg respectively, while traditional freestyle power Cuba fell short of earning any Olympic berths.

Cuba’s line-up is expected to include world bronze medallist Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez at 57kg, Olympic and world medallist Livan Lopez Azcuy at 74kg, world silver medallist Reineris Salas Perez at 86kg, and world bronze medallist Javier Cortina Lacerra at 97kg.

Pan American countries landed a total of four Olympic berths in Greco-Roman during the 2015 World Championships.

Cuba punched two Olympic tickets in the 59kg and 130kg, while the US did so in the 75kg and 130kg.

The Cuban team comprises a number of young but talented newcomers this year, led by veteran Yasmany Lugo Cabrera at 98kg.

Andres Montano Arroyo, a surprise Toronto 2015 Pan American Games gold medallist at 59kg, will be flying the flag for Ecuador.

Athletes who placed in the top six at the 18 Olympic weight classes at the 2015 World Championships qualified their countries for the Olympics in their respective weight classes.

Countries won’t compete in the weight classes in Frisco where they have already secured Olympic berths.

For those who don't qualify in Frisco, there will be Olympic qualifiers held in Mongolia in April and in Turkey in May.

In other wrestling news, Poland's Damian Janikowski and Hungary's Tamas Lorincz have moved up to the number three and number five positions at their respective weights in the latest United World Wrestling (UWW) rankings after recording big wins at the Hungarian Grand Prix in February.

Janikowski’s return to form in recent months has lifted him from seventh place at the World Championships in September to third spot in the 85kg poll behind world champion Zhan Belenyuk of Ukraine, and Baku 2015 European Games gold medallist David Chakvetadze of Russia.

Lorincz, meanwhile, has climbed from ninth place at the World Championships to fifth at 66kg after back-to-back victories at the Zagreb Open and the Hungarian Grand Prix - the latter featuring a win over 2014 world champion Davor Stefanek of Serbia.

Belenyuk and fellow world champion Selcuk Cebi of Turkey were the only World Championship winners on the mats last month as the top spots in the UWW rankings for Greco-Roman remain unchanged for a fifth month in a row.

Cebi returned to action at 80kg with a win at the Ljubomir Ivanonic Gedza International in Belgrade, while Belenyuk prevailed at the Ukraine International - his third tournament since winning the world title.

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