USA Wrestling World Championships ...

World Championships preview in women’s freestyle wrestling at 53 kg/116.5 lbs.

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 18, 2015, 10:55 a.m. (ET)

VIDEO: Whitney Conder (USA) dec. Jaqueline Schellin (Germany), 2014 CISM Military World Championships

Date of competition: Wednesday, September 9

The top star in women’s wrestling, and the most successful athlete in the history of the sport, rules the 53 kg weight class, Saori Yoshida of Japan. She has won the most combined World and Olympic gold medals of any wrestler, passing Greco-Roman legend Alexander Karelin at the 2012 Women’s Worlds. The bar is now set at 15, with three Olympic golds and 12 World golds. Yoshida only has two career Senior-level losses, both at World Cup events. She won most of her titles up at 55 kg, and has continued dominating at her new weight.

The 53 kg division is new, created when UWW expanded to eight weight classes. It includes athletes from the old 51 kg division, and some who dropped down from 55 kg. Placing second to Yoshida at the 2014 Worlds was Sofia Mattsson of Sweden, a 2009 World champion and five-time World medalist. Mattsson added a European Games gold medal this year, and is clearly the top contender to Yoshida.

The bronze medalists from 2014 were Jillian Gallays of Canada and Jong Myong Suk of North Korea. Suk is listed as the North Korean entry, although they also could enter 2015 Asian silver medalist Yong-Mi Pak. Gallays is not on the Canadian team, which will send Brianne Barry, who has been a veteran of North American tournaments and is competing on her first Senior World Team.

China should be well represented here. Zhong Xuechun was the Asian champion the last two years and won a gold medal at the Grand Prix of Paris, coming in with a No. 3 World ranking. They could also go with Li Hui, the Asian bronze medalist who also was a World Military Champion in 2014.

Placing fifth in the world last year was Natalia Malysheva of Russia, a 2014 Junior World champion, who is listed on the Russian roster. Their entry could also be Olga Khorashavsteva, who won the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix this year.

The host United States has a veteran at this weight class, Whitney Conder, who is on her third Senior World Team and is a past Junior World champion. Conder won the Pan American Games title this year, and was a silver medalist at the Military Worlds in 2014. When she is wrestling aggressively and with confidence, Conder can compete with anyone in the world.

Poland has a pair of tough competitors, Katarzyna Krawczyk and Roksana Zasina. Both were second in the European Games, Krawczyk at 55 kg and Zasina at 53 kg. Krawczyk is on the Poland roster at this weight. She placed fifth in the World Championships and won a gold at the Military Worlds last year at 55 kg, and also won the Poland Open at 53 kg.

The 2015 European Games champion was veteran Anzhela Dorogan of Azerbaijan, who has competed in four previous World Championships without a medal. The European Games bronze medalists were Nadeshda Shushko of Belarus and Merve Kenger of Turkey. Shushko was an impressive second at the recent Poland Open. Kenger was a 2012 Junior World silver medalist who is making waves now as a Senior-level athlete.

Sumiya Erdenechimeg of Mongolia was a 2013 World silver medalist and was 10th in the World at this weight last year. She was fifth in the recent Poland Open. The other option is Tsogbaatar Damdinbazar, who was a 2012 Olympian and won this year’s Mongolian Open.

Placing fifth in the World last year was Natalia Budu of Moldova, who was a 2014 European bronze medalist. Lilya Horishna is Ukraine’s listed entry, who was a 2014 Junior World bronze medalist, placed fifth in the European Games and won the U23 European title this year. France has entered Melanie LeSaffre, who was fifth at the 2013 Worlds and won a bronze at the Grand Prix of Paris this year.

The Pan American nations are well represented. This year’s Pan American champion was Sayury Canon of Columbia. Alma Jane Valencia of Mexico was seventh in the world last year, and was also second at the 2015 Pan American Games.

A veteran star is 2008 World silver medalist and 2011 World bronze medalist Jyldyz Eshimova-Turtbayeva of Kazakhstan, who was third in the Asian Championships this year and also won two international gold medals this season. Vietnam has a dark horse candidate, Thi Lua Nguyen, a 2014 Asian silver medalist.

The top contenders from Africa include Adekuoroy Odunayo, the 2015 African champion and 2013 Commonwealth champion, as well as Isabel Sambou of Senegal, who was fifth at 2012 Olympic Games and has competed in all the World Championships since 2007.

Is somebody ready to step up and beat Yoshida this year? There is enough talent in the division for a tough fight for the medals, for sure. But until somebody beats Yoshida, this is her weight class to own.

UWW WORLD RANKINGS
1. Saori Yoshida (Japan)
2. Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)
3. Zhong Xuechun (China)
4. Nadeshda Shushko (Belarus)
5. Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland)
6. Karima Sanchez Ramis (Spain)
7. Mayu Mukaida (Japan)
8. Li Hui (China)
9. Roksana Zasina (Poland)
10. Anzhela Dorgoan (Azerbaijan)
11. Whitney Conder (USA)
12. Olga Khoroshvsteva (Russia)
13. Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus)
14. Alma Valencia Escoto (Mexico)
15. Pang Qianyu (China)
16. Sumiya Erdennechimeg (Mongolia)
17. Pak Yong-Mi (North Korea)
18. Sayury Canon (Colombia)
19. Nanami Irie (Japan)
20. Liliya Horishna (Ukraine)

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2014 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold – Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); Bronze – Jillian Gallays (Canada); Bronze – Jong Myong Suk (North Korea); 5th – Natalia Malysheva (Russia); 5th – Natalia Budu (Moldova); 7th – Alma Jane Valencia (Mexico); 8th – Yuliya Blahinya (Ukraine); 9th – Whitney Conder (USA); 10th – Sumiya Erdenchimeg (Mongolia)

2013 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold – Yanan Sun (China); Silver – Erdennechimeg Sumiya (Mongolia); Bronze – Sim Hyang So (North Korea); Bronze – Jessica MacDonald (Canada); 5th – Victoria Anthony (USA); 5th – Yuliya Blahinya (Ukraine); 7th – Iriyna Kurachkina (Belarus); 8th – Isabelle Sambou (Senegal); 9th – Yu Miyahara (Japan); 10th - Vinesh (India)

2012 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold – Jessica MacDonald (Canada); Silver – Yanan Sun (China); Bronze – Alyssa Lampe (USA); Bronze – Kumari Babita (India); 5th - Zamira Rakhmanova (Russia); 5th - Abdutalipova Abdutalipova (Kazakhstan); 7th - Risako Kawai (Japan); 8th - Roksana Zasina (Poland); 9th - Otgontsetseg Davaasukh (Mongolia); 10th - Alina Ryzhova (Belarus)

2011 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold - Zamira Rakhmanova (Russia) ; Silver - Otgontsetseg Davaasukh (Mongolia); Bronze - Patimat Bagomedova (Azerbaijan); Bronze - Jessica MacDonald (Canada); 5th - Rathi Neha (India); 5th - Mareka Shidochi (Japan); 7th - Kum Ok Han (North Korea); 8th - Yanan Sun (China); 9th - Alexandra Engelhardt (Germany); 10th - Maryia Ivanova Yahorava (Belarus)

2010 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold –Oleksandra Kohut (Ukraine); Silver – Yu Horiuchi (Japan); Bronze – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); Bronze – Zamira Rakhmanova (Russia); 5th – Roksina Zasina (Poland); 5th – Tatiana Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan); 7th – Estera Dobre (Romania); 8th – Isabelle Sambou (Senegal); 9th - Jessica Medina (USA); 10th – Anzhela Dorogan (Azerbaijan)

2009 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); Silver - Kum Ok Han (North Korea); Bronze - Oleksandra Kohut (Ukraine); Bronze - Yuri Kai (Japan); 5th - Natalia Budu (Moldova); 5th - Di Hong (China); 7th - Alexandra Englehardt (Germany); 8th - Babita Kumari (India); 9th - Tatyana Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan); 10th - Emese Szabo (Hungary)