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World Championships preview in women’s freestyle wrestling at 69 kg/152 lbs.

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Sept. 04, 2014, 10:35 a.m. (ET)

VIDEO: Randi Miller (USA) dec. Alina Makhinya (UKR), 2014 Beat the Streets Dual in New York City

Date of competition: Wednesday, September 10

With expansion of Olympic weight classes for women from four to six, the new 69 kg division features a number of athletes who used to compete in the non-Olympic 67 kg division. However, a number of athletes who used to compete at the Olympic weight class at 72 kg have dropped down to this weight class, making it a very strong field in its first year at the World Championships.

The biggest name moving down from 72 kg is 2012 Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia, who holds a No. 1 FILA ranking at her new weight class. Since dropping to 69 kg, who has won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, the European Championships and the Poland Open. Last year, she placed second in the Worlds at 72 kg. She has won at every level, including three Junior World titles.

The next two ranked wrestlers by FILA are also past World champions, Jenny Fransson of Sweden at No. 2 and Alina Makhinya of Ukraine at No. 3. Fransson is coming down from 72 kg, where she was a 2012 World champion. Makhinya won the Worlds at 67 kg in 2013.

Makhinya has won medals in every major event she has entered since the World Championships, including a gold at the Medved International in Belarus, a silver at the 2013 FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals, plus bronze medals at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, the European Championships and the 2014 FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals. She was also a two-time Junior World champion.

Fransson’s first time down to 69 kg was disappointing, as she missed the medals at the European Championships this spring. Since then, she has run off four straight gold medals at the weight, including the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals, the Grand Prix of Spain, the Nordic Championships and the City of Sassari Tournament in Italy.

The field also includes a pair of past Olympic medalists, Randi Miller of the United States and Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus of Poland. Both won Olympic bronze medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, with Miller down at 63 kg and Wieszczek-Kordus at 72 kg.

Miller took five years off from competition after her Beijing bronze, and has looked strong in her return to the mat this year. She boasts a win over returning World champion Alina Makhynia at the Beat the Streets dual meet in New York City. Miller also boasts a win over Canada’s World silver medalist Dorothy Yeats at the Klippan Lady Open, as well as over U.S. teammate and World champion Elena Pirozhkova at the Dave Schultz Memorial. Miller is strong and hard to score on, which makes her a tough draw.

Wieszczek-Kordus has only been down to 69 kg twice, including a bronze at the Grand Prix of Spain. She was fifth in the 2014 European Championships up at 72 kg.

2013 World bronze medalist Sara Dosho of Japan is another top title hopeful. Dosho won the Asian Championships in 2014, and has won some major age-group titles, including the World University Games in 2013 and the Junior World Championships in 2011.

Canada’s Yeats has developed quickly on the Senior level. In addition to her 2012 World silver medal, she has added a 2014 University World title and a 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal to her achievements. Although she lost to Miller at the Klippan Open and placed fifth, she won the 2013 New York AC International where she beat Miller in the finals. She was a 2012 and 2013 Junior World champion, as well as a 2010 Youth Olympic Games champion.

Germany’s Aline Focken was fifth at the 2013 World Championships and won the respected Klippan Ladies Open this winter, beating Randi Miller in the finals. Add in gold medals at the German Grand Prix and the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria, a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Spain and fifth place at the Europeans, and she is having a strong season. This 2011 Junior World silver medalist seems to be improving every season.

Latvia’s Laura Skujina has moved up from 63 kg and has been in the medals in every event she entered at 69 kg, with a gold at the Medved International in Belarus, silver medals at the Poland Open and the Grand Prix of France and bronze medals at the European Championships and the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals. She has not reached a medal round match at the World Championships after a number of tries, but hopes to reach the podium at her new weight class.

Dropping down from 72 kg is tough Mongolian Badrakh Odonchimeg, a 2009 World bronze medalist and a 2008 Olympian. She has had some success at this new weight, with a Mongolian Open title and a silver medal at the FILA Golden Grand Prix Finals.

Although their roster is not available, China has a tradition of strong performances in the upper weights. A possible entry is Feng Zhou, who was third at the Dave Schultz Memorial at 69 kg, then second at the Asian Championships at 75 kg. She is a past Junior World champion. Another option is Bin Yang, third in the 2014 Asians at 69 kg. China has tremendous depth in its program, so whoever is entered will be a tough draw.

A solid contender is Elmira Syzdykova of Kazakhstan, who has been very active this year including bronze medals at the Asian Championships and the Poland Open. Although she has not yet won at the Senior World level, she was a 2011 Junior World bronze medalist.

This new weight class offers some opportunities for veterans seeking another chance. An example is Svetlana Saenko of Moldova, who won a World bronze medal in 2005 for Ukraine and has wrestled in two Olympic Games up at 72 kg. Down at 69 kg this year, she was fifth at the European Championships and third at the Poland Open.

Saman Kundu of India was fifth in the the 2008 World Championships and has been a bronze medalist at both the Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth Championships and has new life at this weight class.

Dzhanan Manolova of Bulgaria, third in the 2014 European Championships and second in the 2013 Junior World Championships, is a rising young star. Among those showing improvement are Adina Popescu of Romania, who was third at the World University Championships this year and 2011 Cadet World bronze medalis Krystina Fedorashko of Belarus.

This is a weight class loaded with World and Olympic champions and medalists, but really wide open because it is bringing a variety of athletes from different weights into a new Olympic opportunity. Right now, the bullseye is on Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia, and there are enough talented challengers to make this a real battle for the medals.

FILA WORLD RANKINGS
1. Natalia Vorobieva (RUS); 2. Jenny Fransson (SWE); 3. Alina Makhinya (UKR); 4. Sara Dosho (JPN); 5. Aline Focken (GER); 6. Dorothy Yeats (CAN); 7. Laura Skujina (LAT); 8. Badrakh Odonchimeg (MGL); 9. Darima Sanzheeva (RUS); 10. Ilana Kratysh (ISR); 11. Sharkuu Tumentsetseg (MGL); 12. Elmira Syzdykova (KAZ); 13. Randi Miller (USA); 14. Adina Popescu (ROU); 15. Enass Moustafa (EGY); 16. Ifeoma Iheanacho (NGR); 17. Dalma Caneva (ITA); 18. Justina Distasio (CAN); 19. Ragneta Gurbanzade (AZE); 20. Svetlana Saenko (MDA)

RECENT WORLD RESULTS

2013 World Championships

67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Alina Stadnik-Makhynia (Ukraine); Silver – Stacie Anaka (Canada); Bronze – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); Bronze – Sara Dosho (Japan); 5th – Zhanting Zhou (China); 5th – Aline Focken (Germany); 7th – Laura Skujina (Latvia); 8th – Leidy Izquierdo Mendez (Colombia); 9th – Gozal Zutova (Azerbaijan); 10th – Veronica Carlson (USA)

2012 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Adeline Gray (USA); Silver – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); Bronze – Yan Hong (China); Bronze – Yoshiko Inoue (Japan); 5th - Alina Stadnik-Makhynia (Ukraine); 5th - Kaur Navjot (India); 7th - Darya Khamdiyeva (Kazakhstan); 8th - Nadya Sementsova (Azerbaijan); 9th - Irina Bogdanova (Russia); 10th - Ilana Kratysh (Israel)

2011 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Luozhuoma Xi (China); Silver - Oyunsuren Banzragch (Mongolia); Bronze - Yoshiko Inoue (Japan); Bronze - Adeline Gray (USA); 5th - Alina Makhynia (Ukraine); 5th - Burcu Orskaya (Turkey); 7th - Martine Dugrenier (Canada); 8th - Iryna Ysyrkevich (Belarus); 9th - Nadya Sementsova (Azerbaijan); 10th - Natalia Kuksina (Russia)

2010 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Martine Dugrenier (Canada); Silver – Elena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); Bronze –Ifeoma Iheanacho (Nigeria); Bronze –Alla Cherkosova (Ukraine); 5th – Mami Shinkai (Japan); 5th – Nadya Sementsova (Azerbaijan); 7th – Burcu Orskaya (Turkey); 8th – Maria Selmaier (Germany); 9th – Ying Chen (China); 10th – Yanira Morales (Cuba)

2009 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Martine Dugrenier (Canada); Silver - Julia Bartnovskaia (Russia); Bronze - Ifeoma Ihenacho (Nigeria); Bronze - Nadrakh Odonchimeg (Mongolia); 5th - Adeline Gray (USA); 5th - Yoshiko Inoue (Japan); 7th - Kateryna Burmistrova (Ukraine); 8th - Zumrud Gurganhajiyeva (Azerbaijan); 9th - Maher Hasan Salem Doaa Ahmed (Egypt); 10th - Ji-Eun Kim (Korea)