USA Wrestling 2007 World Champions...

2007 World Championships preview at 67 kg 147 5 lbs in women s freestyle wrestling

By Gary Abbott | Sept. 15, 2007, 11:12 a.m. (ET)

China has captured gold medals at 67 kg in women's wrestling for the last two years, with Jing Rui Xue claiming the 2006 World title and Meng Lili taking home the 2005 World championship. China has listed Jing as its entry this year, giving her a chance to win her second title in a row and keep China's streak alive at this division. Jing dropped down to 63 kg for the World Cup earlier this year and won a gold medal, but it seems has returned to 67 kg for the World meet.

Claiming a silver medal for the last two years, and losing to China's entry, has been Canada's Martine Dugrenier, a powerful athlete who seems to wrestle her best at the most important event. Dugrenier added a Pan American Championships gold medal this year, and seeks to return to the gold medal match again and win her first World title.

As a non-Olympic weight class, it is possible that some of the top entries in this division may either drop to 63 kg or jump up to 67 kg, in preparation for the Olympic year next season. Winning a World title is a major achievement, so many may wait until after B aku to make the switch.

One of last year's World bronze medalists, Maria Muller of Germany, is listed on their nation's roster for this year's event. Muller won a bronze medal at the European Championships this year. The other bronze medalist, Japan's Eri Sakamoto, has been replaced in the lineup by Yoshiko Inoue, a 2006 Junior World champion. This has been Japan's weakest weight class for many years, and their coaches hope that Inoue can break through and become a star at this division.

The United States brings 2005 World bronze medalist Katie Downing to the World meet for the third straight year. Downing paid her dues behind two-time World champion Kristie Marano for a few seasons, and is coming into her own internationally. She has extra motivation this year after falling out of the top 10 at last year's World meet.

Russia's women's program has shown improvement, and their entry this year will be Natalia Kuksina, who is competing in her first World meet. Kuksina was second at the 2006 Golden Grand Prix and has a number of high medal placements on the international circuit in past seasons. Anna Polovneva won the European title at 67 kg for Russia this year, but is listed as an alternate on the team down at 63 kg. This shows the depth in the Russian program at this time.

2002 World champion Katarina Burmistrova of Ukraine won the silver medal at the European Championships this year, and seeks her first World medal since that victory. She has done well in other events, but has not put together a good World meet in recent seasons. One of the European bronze medalists this year was Irina Tsyrkevich of Belarus, who was ninth at the World Championships last year.

Other athletes who place in the top 10 at the World meet last year were Teresa Mendez of Spain, Diana Mudrag of Romania, Naranchimeg Gelgjamts of Mongolia, Agniezska Wieczczek of Poland and Masira Admiraal of the Netherlands.

Gelgjamts is not listed as the starter for Mongolia this year, with 2007 Asian bronze medalist Tsendendorj Bayarzaya on the roster. Wieszczek won a World University silver medal at 72 kg in 2004.

Although Chinese athletes have won gold medals at this division for the last two years, this may be one of the most wide open weight divisions in the women's field. Canada's Martine Dugrenier has been close the last two years, and may be ready to claim her own World title. World powers Russia and the United States would like to claim a title at this division, as well. This may be a year with a newcomer stepping up and winning a surprise title.

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2006 World Championships results
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Jing Rui Xue (China); Silver - Martine Dugrenier (Canada); Bronze - Maria Muller (Germany); Bronze - Eri Sakamoto (Japan); 5th - Teresa Mendez (Spain); 5th - Diana Mudrag (Romania); 7th - Naranchimeg Gelgjamts (Mongolia); 8th - Agniezska Wieczczek (Poland); 9th - Iryna Tsyrkevitch (Belarus); 10th - Masira Admiraal (Netherlands)

2005 World Championships results
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Meng Lili (China); Silver - Martine Dugrenier (Canada); Bronze - Elene Perepelkina (Russia); Bronze - Katie Downing (USA); 5th - Naranchimeg Gelegjamts (Mongolia); 5th - Ashlea McManus (Great Britain); 7th - Eri Sakamoto (Japan); 8th - Rita Soos (Hungary); 9th - Stavrola Zygouri (Greece); 10th - Masira Admiraal (Netherlands)

2004 - Olympic Year - No World Championships at this non-Olympic weight

2003 World Championships results
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Kristie Marano (United States) dec. Ewelina Pruszko (Poland), 7-1; Bronze - Svetlana Martynenko (Russia) dec. Shannon Samler (Canada), 4-3, ot, 8:07; 5th - Nori Saito (Japan); 6th - Stavroula Zygouri (Greece); 7th - Wang Jiao (China); 8th - Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine); 9th - Martina Zyklova (Czech Republic); 10th - Jodeen Macgregor (New Zealand)

2002 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - 1st - Katarina Burmistrova (Ukraine) dec Lise Legrand (France), 3-2, ot, 6:48; 3rd - Kristie Marano (USA) dec. Ewelina Pruszko (Poland), 6-1; 5th - Aikaterini Siavou (Greece); 6th - Annika Oertli (Germany); 7th - Norie Saito (Japan); 8th - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); 9th - Elena Perepelkina (Russia); 10th - Xiomara Guavara (Venezuela)

2001 World Championships results
68 kg/149.75 lbs. - Gold - Christine Nordhagen-Vierling (Canada) dec. Toccara Montgomery (USA), 4-1; Bronze - Anita Schatzle (Germany) won by tech. fall over Sveta Yarashevich (Russia), 11-1; 5th - Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine); 6th - Yanli Yang (China); 7th - Zlateve Stanka (Bulgaria); 8th - Unda Maider (Spain); 9th - Monika Kowalska (Poland); 10th - Jana Panova (Kyrghzstan)