Azerbaijan secures full freestyle wrestling team for Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

After failing to win a single qualification place in Greco-Roman style and women's wrestling, Azerbaijan dominated freestyle wrestling at the 2024 European Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament in their capital city of Baku.

The biggest shock for the hosts came when 11-time European champion Maria Stadnik lost in the semi-finals. The four-time Olympic medallist came within ten seconds of a fifth Olympic appearance when she was 2-0 up against Oksana Livach in the women's -50 kg. 

However, the Ukrainian caught her with a four-point move and pinned her to secure an Olympic berth. It was the first defeat of the 35-year-old Stadnyk's career at a European tournament.

Individual Neutral Athletes from Russia and Belarus won 5 Olympic berths in women's wrestling. Nadezhda Sokolova (-50 kg), Natalia Malysheva (-53 kg), Alina Kasabieva (-62 kg) and Khanum Velieva (-69 kg) all reached the finals of the Baku tournament and qualified for the Olympic Games.

The other six Olympic berths in the women's event went to Romania (Andreea Ana, 53 kg), Germany (Sandra Paruszewski, 62 kg), Bulgaria (Bilyana Dudova, 69 kg), Poland (Wiktoria Choluj, 68 kg), Hungary (Bernadett Nagy, 76 kg) and Turkey (Yasemin Adar, 76 kg). 

After two days of upset, the home crowd finally went into happy mode during the freestyle wrestling. The Azerbaijani wrestlers won five Olympic berths and will now have a full six-man freestyle wrestling team at Paris 2024, having already won one in the 97 kg category at the 2023 World Championships.

Aliabas Rzazade defeated former European champion Vladimir Egrorov of North Macedonia in the 57 kg category. Olympic silver and bronze medallist Haji Aliyev defeated European champion Islam Dudaev of Albania in the semi-finals of the -65 kg category. 

Turan Bayramov won a thrilling battle against Italy's Frank Chamizo Marques in the 74 kg category. Osman Nurmagomedov was strong against Ukraine's Vasyl Mikhailov, and Giorgi Meshvidishvili defeated Bulgaria's Alen Khubulov at 125 kg.

Alikhan Zhabrailov, who replaced double Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev in the Russian national team, won the Olympic quota in the 97 kg category and his team-mate, Olympic bronze medallist Artur Naifonov, reached the final of the 86 kg category. 

Four other Olympic berths were won by Individual Neutral Athletes from Belarus - Aryan Tsiutryn (57 kg), Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (74 kg), Aliaksandr Hushtyn (97 kg) and Dzianis Khramiankou (125 kg).  Goderdzi Dzebisashvili also won an Olympic place for Georgia in the -65 kg category.