2010 World Championships preview at 55 kg 121 lbs in women s freestyle wrestlingDate of competition: Friday, September 10
No women's wrestler is a bigger superstar than Saori Yoshida of Japan, who has won two Olympic gold medals and seven World titles at this division. Yoshida not only wins every event that she enters, but she also competes with a dominant style. She no longer has the pressure of being undefeated at the Senior level, after losing to American Marcie Van Dusen at the 2008 World Cup. Yoshida has set the standard for all women wrestlers, and continues to compete at the highest level.
The other top competitor at this division has been Tonya Verbeek of Canada, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist. Verbeek won a bronze medal at this weight last year. However, this season Verbeek has been competing at 59 kg. Other tough Canadians at 55 kg include Jill Gallays, Brittanee Laverdure and Andrea Ross
Sona Ahmedli of Azerbaijan won the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships at this weight. She has been competing up a division this year at 59 kg, winning the European title as well as the Poland Open. If Ahmedli has moved up for this year, we could see 2009 World champion Yulia Ratkevich move down from 59 kg. So far this year, Ratkevich competed at both the World Cup and the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals down at 55 kg. Just to add another possibility, Katerina Dombroska wrestled at the 2010 European Championships at this weight. Expect Azerbaijan to be tough here.
The United States has a true contender here in Tatiana Padilla, who was a 2008 World bronze medalist and placed fifth at the 2009 World Championships. Padilla comes off the Junior World Championships, where she did not win a medal, and will be motivated to show her stuff again in Moscow. Padilla won a silver at the World Cup this year.
Every year, Natalia Golts of Russia is a medal contender. Golts has won a World silver medal and four World bronze medals during her career, although she did not win a medal last year. She bounced back to win a European silver medal this year. If it is not Golts in the lineup, Russia could send Ekaterina Krasnova, who was third at the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals this year.
The reigning European champion is young Anastasija Grigorjeva of Latvia. Ironically, Grigorjeva was just a bronze medalist at the European Junior Championships this year, and did not medal at the Junior World Championships. She also finished out of the medals in last year's Senior World Championships.
The amazing Anna Gomis of France continues to be a top challenger if she enters. Gomis, 36, won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. She has won four World titles, with her most recent in 1999. Last year, she was fifth at the World Championships.
2008 Olympic bronze medalist Jackeline Renteria of Colombia has returned after a year off. She was fifth at the Klippan Cup and won the Central American and Caribbean Games, but has not been tested at the highest level since her Beijing performance in 1988.
The 2010 Asian champion in Yang Sen-Lian of China. The Chinese have a number of options here, including 2010 Military World champion Li Hui, who won the Asian Championships down at 51 kg or Zhang Lan, who won the Junior World Championships at 59 kg but has competed at 55 kg often. 2008 Olympic silver medalist Xu Li has competed in only one major event since winning her Olympic medal.
Agata Pietryk of Poland was a World silver medalist at 59 kg last year, but dropped to 55 kg for the European Championships, where she won a bronze medal. Poland has options if Pietryk returns to 59 kg, including Sylvia Bilenska, Roksana Zasina and Renata Omilusik.
Natalya Synyshyn of Ukraine won the 2010 FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals, and was a 2009 European champion. Ukraine could also consider Junior World silver medalist Yulia Blahinya or World Cup bronze medalist Irina Khariv for this weight class
Ana Maria Paval of Romania was third in the 2010 European Championships and placed seventh at the 2009 World Championships. Ayim Abdildina of Kazakhstan was second at the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals, fifth at the 2010 Asian Championships and eighth at the 2009 World Championships.
Others to watch include Dilek Atakol of Turkey, Valentina Minguzzi of Italy, Yura Gandolgor of Mongolia, Geeta of India and Choe Hungyong of North Korea.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2009 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver - Sona Ahmedli (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Alena Filipava (Belarus); Bronze - Tonya Verbeek (Canada); 5th - Tatiana Padilla (USA); 5th - Anna Gomis (France); 7th - Ana Maria Paval (Romania); 8th - Aiyim Abdildina (Kazakhstan); 9th - Yura Gandolgor (Mongolia); 10th - Geeta (India)
2008 Olympic Games
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver - Xu Li (China); Bronze - Tonya Verbeek (Canada); Bronze - Jackeline Renteria (Colombia); 5th - Ida-Theres Nerell (Sweden); 5th - Ana Paval (Romania); 7th - Olga Smirnova (Kazakhstan); 8th - Natalia Golts (Russia); 9th - Marcie Van Dusen (USA); 10th - Ludmilla Cristea (Moldova)
2008 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver - Tetyana Lazareva (Ukraine); Bronze - Tatiana Padilla (United States); Bronze - Anna Zwirydowska (Poland); 5th - Britanee Laverdure (Canada); 5th - Ana Maria Paval (Romania); 7th - Natalja Smirnova (Russia); 8th - Naidan Otgonjarjal (Mongolia); 9th - Ainur Artikbaeva (Uzbekistan); 10th - Enid Rivera Velasquez (Puerto Rico)
2007 World Championships results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver - Ida-Theres Karlsson (Sweden); Bronze - Olga Smirnova (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Natalya Golts (Russia); 5th - Alena Filipova (Belarus); 5th - Tatyana Lazareva (Ukraine); 7th - Jacqueline Renteria (Colombia); 8th - Yulia Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); 9th - Tonya Verbeek (Canada); 10th - Marcie Van Dusen (United States)
2006 World Championships results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver - Mariyia Yaharova (Belarus); Bronze - Minerva Montero (Spain); Bronze - Ida-Theres Karlsson (Sweden); 5th - Jessica Bechtel (Germany); 5th - Natalia Golts (Russia); 7th - Greeta (India); 8th - Anna Gomis (France); 9th - Naidan Otgonjargal (Mongolia); 10th - Li Song Ni (China)
2005 World Championships results
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver - Su Lihui (China); Bronze - Natalia Golts (Russia); Bronze - Tonya Verbeek (Canada); 5th - Minerva Montero (Spain); 5th - Ludmila Cristea (Moldova); 7th - Ana Maria Paval (Romania); 8th - Jessica Bechtel (Germany); 9th - Sylvia Bilenska (Poland); 10th - Anna Gomis (France)