USA Wrestling World Championships ...

World Championships preview in women’s freestyle wrestling at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Sept. 01, 2014, 1:03 p.m. (ET)

VIDEO: Elena Pirozhkova (USA) dec. Anastasia Bratchikova (RUS), 2013 World bronze medal bout

Date of competition: Friday, September 12

A familiar name will be missing from this year’s 63 kg bracket, three-time Olympic champion and eight-time World champion Kaori Icho who has moved down to 58 kg. This has always been a loaded weight class, so her absence does not take away from the talented athletes who are looking to replace her on the top of the podium.

There is one past World champion in the field from this division, 2012 World champion Elena Pirozhkova of the United States, who won an event Icho did not enter. Pirozhkova has won three World medals, with a silver in 2010 and a bronze in 2013, and also competed at the 2012 Olympic Games. Her experience, talent and confidence are major assets in her attempt to win a second World gold. She has won the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals the last two years, and boasts five international titles since last year’s Worlds.

FILA has Anastasija Grigorjeva of Latvia ranked No. 1 at this time, after winning golds at the European Championships, the Klippan Lady Open and the Grand Prix of Paris this season. Her European title was the second year in a row in a tough weight. She does not have a World medal yet, so will need to bring her best to Tashkent. She won a first-round bout against Pirozhkova at the 2012 Olympics, where she finished ninth.

2013 World silver medalist Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia recently won a gold at the Poland Open, her only big performance since last year’s Worlds. Her resume is strong, with a 2010 World title, a 2012 Olympic bronze medal and a 2013 World University Games gold.

2010 World bronze medalis Henna Johansson of Sweden is having a successful season, with silvers at the Klippan Ladies Open and the Grand Prix of Spain and a bronze at the Grand Prix of Paris. She was out of the medals at the European Championships, placing fifth. A strong athlete who has extensive experience, she is a serious threat to make the finals.

Ukraine’s Yulia Tkach has been in the medals often this year, with bronzes at the European Championships and the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals and a silver at the Medved International in Belarus.

Canada has a talented young star in Danielle Lappage, a 2010 Junior World champion who has made her first Senior World Team. Lappage has won gold medals in her last three international events, taking titles at the Austrian Ladies Open, the University World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

Coming back after placing ninth in the 2013 World Championships is Maria Mamashuk of Belarus, who was second in the 2014 European Championships this year. Her bronze medal at the 2013 World University Games was also an impressive effort.

At 34, Monika Michalik of Poland is one of the most experienced women athletes on the planet, which her first major Junior Tournament way back in 1999. She has won a pair of World bronze medals in 2006 and 2007 and wrestled in two Olympic Games, placing fifth in the 2012 Olympics. She is still highly competitive, with three medals during the 2014 winter season, including a bronze at the respected Klippan Lady Open.

Two of the world’s top powers have first time Senior World Team members, Rio Watari of Japan and Valeriia Lazinskaya of Russia. Watari was third in the 2012 Asian Championships and fifth in the 2011 Junior World Championships. Lazinskaya was third at the 2014 University World Championships and second in the 2010 Junior World Championships.

Azerbaijan is dropping down Nadia Sementsova, who was eighth in the World last year at 67 kg and has only wrestled at 63 kg twice since 2010. Among her best performances was fifth place at the 2010 World Championships and a 2010 European gold medal, both at 67 kg.

Bulgaria has a strong competitor in Elina Vaseva, who has competed in three Senior World Championships as well as the 2008 Olympic Games. She was third in the 2010 European Championships fifth in the 2013 European Championships and second in the 2014 Poland Open, all at 63 kg.

Adding to the depth at the division is three-time African champion Blessing Oborududu, who has won two Commonwealth Games medals, a silver in 2010 and a bronze in 2014. She was Commonwealth Championships gold medalist in 2013, and also wrestled in the 2012 Olympic Games.

Navjot Kaur of India was fifth in the 2012 World Championships and third in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Others to watch are 2014 Pan American Championships silver medalist Lais Oliviera of Brazil, 2012 Mediterranean champion Agoro Papavaiseiou of Greece, 2014 Junior World silver medalist Dalma Caneve of Italy as well as Olga Kalinina of Kazakhstan, who has won three Beach World titles and was seventh in the 2009 Senior World Championships.

Even without superstar Kaori Icho of Japan in the field, there are many talented wrestlers capable of winning gold at 63 kg. Elena Pirozhkova is the only one with a past World title, something which should give her confidence coming in. The depth here means there will be great matches right from the opening round.

1. Anastasija Grigorjeva (LAT); 2. Jackeline Rentaria Castillo (COL); 3. Elena Pirozhkova (USA); 4. Yurika Ito (JPN); 5. Yulia Tkach (UKR); 6. Henna Johansson (SWE); 7. Xiluo Zhuoma (CHN); 8. Danielle Lappage (CAN); 9. Monica Michalik (POL); 10. Yulia Prontsevich (RUS); 11. Maria Mamshuk (BLR); 12. Ekaterina Larionova (KAZ); 13. Inna Trazhukova (RUS); 14. Dzhanan Manolova (BUL); 15. Buse Tosun (TUR); 16. Breanne Graham (CAN); 17. Blessing Oborududu (NGR); 18. Soronzonbold Battsetseg (MGL); 19. Katherine Vidiaux Lopez (CUB); 20. Lais Oliviera (BRA)


2013 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Bronze – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Bronze – Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan); 5th – Anastasia Bratchikova (Russia); 5th – Jackeline Renteria (Colombia); 7th – Monika Ewa Michalik (Poland); 8th – Maria Diana (Italy); 9th – Maria Mamashuk (Belarus); 10th – Ganna Vasylenko (Ukraine)

2012 Olympic Games
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Rui Xue Jing (China); Bronze – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Bronze – Lyubov Volossova (Russia); 5th – Martine Dugrenier (Canada); 5th – Monika Michalik (Poland); 7th – Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 8th – Katherine Vidiaux Lopez (Cuba); 9th – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); 10th – Hanna Johansson (Sweden)

2012 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Silver – Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); Bronze – Luozhuoma Xi (China); Bronze – Justine Bouchard (Canada); 5th – Yelena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); 5th – Kayoko Kudo (Japan); 7th – Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine); 8th – Hanna Beliayeva (Azerbaijan); 9th – Aline Focken (Germany); 10th – Monika Michalik (Poland)

2011 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Marianna Satsin (Hungary); Bronze - Rui Xue Jing (China); Bronze - Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongola); 5th - Elena Pirozhkova (United States); 5th - Ran-Mi Kim (North Korea); 7th - Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 8th - Stephanie Maierhofer (Austiria); 9th - Audrey Prieto (France); 10th - Michaela Spoustova (Czech Republic).

2010 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Bronze – Hanna Johansson (Sweden); Bronze – Lubov Volosova (Russia); 5th – Marianna Sastin (Hungary); 5th – Katerina Lopez (Cuba); 7th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 8th – Sandra Roa (Colombia); 9th - Yvonne Englich (Germany); 10th – Simona Corbani (Italy)

2009 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Mio Nishimaki (Japan); Silver - Lubov Volosova (Russia); Bronze - Elena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Justine Bouchard (Canada); 5th - Olesja Zamula (Azerbaijan); 5th - Monika Michalik (Poland); 7th - Elena Pirozkhova (USA); 8th - Elina Vaseva (Bulgaria); 9th - Martina Zyklova (Czech Republic); 10th - Yuliya Ostapchuk (Ukraine)