2003 World Championships of Freestyle Wrestling women s preview at 48 kg 105 5 pounds

By Gary Abbott | Aug. 19, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
A new champion was crowned in 2002, when Brigitte Wagner of Germany defeated veteran Inga Karamtshakova of Russia in the gold-medal finals, 4-3. Wagner has also won a Junior World title during her career and was third in the 2001 World Championships. She showed that last year was no fluke by capturing the gold medal at the competitive 2003 European Championships as well. Karamtshakova has won three World medals, including two silver medals and a bronze medal. Karamtshakova beat Wagner in the 2002 European finals. She may not even be Russia's first choice, as 2003 European silver medalist Lilia Kaskarakova is also listed on the preliminary Russian lists. In either case, the Russian entry should be among the top medal contenders. Ida Hellstrom of Sweden won the World bronze last year, beating some very good athletes including Canada's Carol Huyhn, America's Patricia Miranda and Romania's Nicoleta Badea. She has won two other World medals, including a silver in 2001 and a bronze in 1998 competing in higher weight divisions. One of the top championship hopefuls will be Irina Melnik of Ukraine, who won the World titles in 2000 and 2001. Melnik was wrestling for Greece for awhile, but has returned to the Ukraine team and is getting ready for another run at the gold. She has victories over most of the top challengers in this division, and if she is well prepared, will be difficult for anybody to beat. U.S. fans should have high hopes for Patricia Miranda, who has been as hot as any woman wrestler in the world this year. Last season, her first at this lower division, she was defeated in her pool competition by Hellstrom, and did not place. Since then, she has been on a tear. She has beaten Wagner twice, and three-time World Champion Miyuu Yamamoto Inoue in the Dave Schultz Tournament finals. At the first Pan American Games, she pinned Canada's top star Lindsay Belisle in the gold-medal match. This Stanford grad has thrived since joining the USOTC resident program. Miranda won a World silver medal in 2000 competing at 51 kg/112.25 pounds. All of these things, plus competing on the home mats in New York, will make her a true force. Canada will be entering Lyndsay Belisle, who dropped in weight this year and defeated two-time World medalist Carol Huyhn for the spot on the Canadian team. She placed fourth the last two years at 51 kg/112.25 pounds, meaning she should be very tough at the lower division. Her loss to Miranda, or her silver at the 2003 Pan American Championships a few months earlier, do not diminish her ability to beat top international stars and challenge for the title. Nicoleta Badea of Romania, who was fourth at the 2002 World Championships and fifth at the 2003 European Championships, has become a top contender. France should be very competitive, with either Laurienne Mary, sixth at the 2002 World Championships, or Angelique Berthenet, the 2003 European bronze medalists, in the lineup. Japan has been the dominant team in the world, but has had some difficulties in this division recently. The Japanese entry did not place in the top 10 last year, and Japan has not won a medal at the lightest division for four straight years. However, three-time World Champion Miyuu Yamamoto Inoue has returned and would be an immediate challenger. Makiko Sakamoto is the other possible Japanese entry, and will be looking to put Japan back on top again. As an Olympic weight division, Japan will be putting extra effort into their athlete at this division. The Pan American nations have shown some tremendous ability at this weight class beyond the U.S. and Canada athletes. Mayelis Caripa of Venezuela won a gold medal at the 2003 Pan American Championships in the spring, and was eighth in the World Championships last year. Angeles Barazza Sanchez of Mexico was seventh in the 2002 World Championships. Flor Quispe of Peru beat Caripa to take the bronze medal at the Pan American Games in August, and was ninth in the World Championships last year. With the competition in New York, the Pan American athletes should be very competitive again this year. Greece gets an automatic entry in the Olympic Games in every weight class, so it will not be under pressure to place in the top five and qualify for the Athens Games. In any case, Myrsini Koloni of Greece was 10th in the World last year, but will be replaced for the World meet this year by Fani Psatha. Tough athletes from Europe to watch include Nora Lauvstad of Norway, who was fourth at the European meet, and Kamelia Tzekova of Bulgaria, who placed sixth in the European Championships. Tzekova was fifth in the 2000 World Championships, and has an experience edge over many opponents. The 2003 Asian champion was Mika Noguchi of Japan, who is not even listed as one of their possible entries. Chinese Taipei, which has shown talent in women's wrestling, won the Asian silver medal with Kao Wei Chien, but their listed entry for New York will be Wang Ying Chi. India will be well represented, either with Asian bronze medalist Kamini Yadav or Commonwealth Championships bronze medalist Shamel. China did not enter the 2003 Asian Championships in India, but were the World Team champions just two years ago. Li Hui is the Chinese entry in New York, and expect her to be well prepared. A veteran to watch in Norway's Gudrun Hoie who has been competitive for many years. With the development of women's wrestling, there are always new teams and athletes entered each year. In addition, especially in the lighter weight classes, there can be some tremendous teenage competitors entering from the age-group ranks. At the end of August, the Junior World Championships in Turkey could expose some young stars that could be a factor a few weeks later in New York if they enter both meets. This weight class will be jammed with talent, with defending champion Wagner of Germany, two-time champion Melnik of Ukraine, and perhaps three-time champion Yamamoto Inoue of Japan all in the mix. Throw in strong entries from Russia, Sweden, Canada and the United States and there is a tremendous opportunity for some great matches. U.S. fans will be rooting for Miranda to finish off a great season with a gold medal on the home mats. To be the World Champion at this division, a wrestler will have to knock off a number of tough talents. RECENT WORLD RESULTS 2002 World Championships results 48 kg/105.5 lbs. - 1st - Brigitte Wagner (Germany) dec. Inga Karamtshakova (Russia), 4-3; 3rd - Ida Hellstrom (Sweden) pin Nicoleta Badea (Romania), 2:50; 5th - Carol Huyhn (Canada); 6th - Laurianne Mary (France); 7th - Angeles Barazza Sanchez (Mexico); 8th - Mayelis Caripa (Venezuela); 9th - Flor Quispe (Peru); 10th - Myrsini Koloni (Greece) 2001 World Championships results 46 kg/101.25 lbs. - Gold - Irina Melnik (Ukraine) dec. Carol Huyhn (Canada), 3-0; Bronze - Brigitte Wagner (Germany) dec. Farah Touchi (France), 4-2; 5th - Misato Shimizu (Japan); 6th - Agoro Papavassiliou (Greece); 7th - Volha Prydanikava (Belarus); 8th - Kamelia Tzekova (Bulgaria); 9th - Ayse Guneri (Turkey); 10th - Inga Karamthakova (Russia) 2000 World Championships results 46 kg/101.25 lbs. - Gold - Irina Melnik (Ukraine); Silver - Inga Karamtshakova (Russia); Bronze - Carol Huynh (Canada); 4th - Farah Touchi (France); 5th - Kamilia Tzekova (Bulgaria); 6th - Maria de las Angeles Barraza (Mexico); 7th - Wei Chien Kao (Taipei); 8th - Misato Shimizu (Japan); 9th - Sarah Ehinger (Germany); 10th -Agoro Papavassiliou (Greece) 1999 World Championships results 46 kg/101.25 lbs. - 1st - Tricia Saunders (USA) dec. Xiue Zhong (China), 4-2, ot, 6:46; 3rd - Inga Karamtjakov (Russia) dec. Shoko Yoshimura (Japan), 3-1; 5th - Mette Barlie (Norway); 6th - Julia Vojtova (Ukraine); 7th - Angela Castellanos (Venezuela); 8th -Helena Honkamaa (Sweden); 9th - Farah Touchi (France); 10th - Lila Ritevska (Austria) TENTATIVE ENTRIES, as of 8/21 48 kg/105.5 lbs. AUSTRALIA - Lili Ristevska BELARUS - Viktorya Hubskaya BULGARIA - Kamelia Tzekova CANADA - Lyndsay Belisle or Carol Huyhn CHINA - Li Hui CHINESE TAIPEI - Wang Ying Chi CZECH REPUBLIC - Olina Orlo