2017 World Championships preview in women’s freestyle at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 10, 2017, 9:44 a.m. (ET)
Mallory Velte, shown at the 2017 World Team Trials, is making her first appearance at the Senior World Championships in Paris this year. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Date of competition: Wednesday, August 23

The 2016 Olympic champion, Japan’s Risako Kawai, is not expected at this weight class in Paris, as she is reportedly dropping to 60 kg for the tournament. Japan is expected to bring Ayako Ito at 63 kg this year. Fifth in the 2013 Worlds in her only previous Senior World appearance, Ito won bronze medals this season at Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia and the UWW Golden Grand Prix finals.

Even without the reigning Olympic champion, this weight should have some very talented wrestlers seeking medals. Among the best is 2014 World champion Yulia Tkach of Ukraine, who was a disappointing ninth at the 2016 Rio Games. Tkach also boasts a 2015 World bronze medal, and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games. She has been active this season, winning five international medals including golds at the UWW Golden Grand Prix Finals, the Ukrainian Memorial International and the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. She was third at the European Championships.

Bulgaria’s Taybe Yusein is a four-time World medalist, with silvers in 2012 and 2013 and bronzes in 2014 and 2015. She did not place in the Rio Olympics, but has been on a tear ever since, winning medals in six straight events, although none of them were gold. Silver medals this season came at the European Championships, the Grand Prix of Spain and the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. Yusein was also a 2011 Junior World champion.

It is possible that none of the 2016 Olympic medalists will be in the field in Paris. Winning a silver in Rio was Maryia Mamashuk of Belarus, with bronze medals going to Yekaterina Larionova of Kazakhstan and Monika Ewa Michalak of Poland. All three of their nations have another athlete who could attend in their place.

Mamashuk has won silver medals this year at the European Championships and the Poland Open at 69 kg, where she is expected to enter in Paris. Her replacement for Belarus is Verankika Ivanova, a 2016 World University Championships bronze medalist.

Larionova has not wrestled since the Rio Games. Kazakhstan is expected to send Zarina Kunangarayeva, a first-time World Team member, who was second in the Yasar Dogu in Turkey and third in the Islamic Solidarity Games this season.

The amazing Michalik, who won her 2016 Olympic bronze medal at the age of 36, is still going strong. She won the 2017 European Championships this year and was third at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. Michalik won World bronze medals way back in 2006 and 2007. If she competes, Michalik has earned the No. 1 seed in the weight class. However, Poland may bring Natalia Kubaty instead, who was second in the Grand Prix of Paris, and has wrestled at six events for Poland at 63 kg this season.

Mongolia is loaded at 63 kg, including 2015 World champion Battsetseg Soronzonbold. However, their entry is expected to be Orkhon Purevdorj, who was seventh in the Rio Olympic Games down at 58 kg. Purevdorj has been outstanding this season, winning four straight gold medals at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia, the Mongolia Open, the Poland Open and the Grand Prix of Spain.

Russia will be represented by 2014 World bronze medalist Valeriia Lazinskaia, who won the Russian Nationals this year. Lazinskaia won a gold at the highly respected Klippan Lady Open this year. She also claimed a gold at the 2015 European Games.

It is unclear who China might send at 63 kg, but with their depth, there are many options. Wang Xiaoquian, who won a bronze medal at the 2017 Asian Championships, was 10th in the 2014 World Championships. Xu Rui, who represented China at the 2016 Olympic Games, has won three international medals since Rio, including a gold medal at the Cerro Pelado in Cuba and silvers at the UWW Golden Grand Prix Finals and the Poland Open.

Colombia’s Jackeline Renteria won two Olympic bronze medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics at 55 kg, but dropped to eighth at the 2016 Olympics at 58 kg. Her best World Championships efforts were in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships. She won the Ion Corneanu Memorial in Romania as a tune-up event for Paris.

2010 World bronze medalist Henna Johansson of Sweden is among the most experienced at the weight class. Johansson was a 2009 Junior World champion and competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Most recently, she won a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Germany.

2017 Pan American champion Braxton Stone of Canada was fifth in the 2015 World Championships. A two-time Junior World medalist, Stone also was a 2015 Pan American Games champion. She added a gold medal at the Grand Prix of Germany in her most recent outing.

For many years, the United States has been represented here by 2012 World champion and four-time World medalist Elena Pirozhkova, who moved up to 69 kg in 2017. Powering into this spot for Team USA was Mallory Velte, who was fifth in the 2105 Junior World Championships. California native Velte has won two WCWA women’s college national titles for Simon Fraser. She won a bronze medal at the Grand Prix of Spain recently.

Italy’s Sara da Col is a rising young star, winning a bronze medal at the 2017 European Championships, as well as medals at events in Bulgaria and Austria this season. Her best major event result was fifth place in the 2011 Junior Worlds.

Six-time African champion Blessing Oburududu of Nigeria has competed in the last two Olympic Games. She most recently won a gold medal at the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games, and she is a past Commonwealth Championships gold medalist.

Israel’s Ilana Kratysh competed in the 2016 Olympic Games at 69 kg, and has most of her achievements at that weight class. However, she won a bronze medal at the recent Grand Prix of Spain down at 63 kg and could be a factor at her new weight. Among her best efforts was a pair of silver medals at the European Championships.

Others to watch are 2016 Pan American silver medalist Nino Sovero of Peru, 2012 Junior World silver medalist Hafiz Sahin of Turkey and 2015 European U23 bronze medalist Elmira Gambarova of Azerbaijan.

Although the talent level at 63 kg is solid, there is a big opportunity for some new talent to make an impact at the World Championships here and set the tone for the new Olympic four-year cycle.

1. Risako KAWAI (JPN)
2. Yulia TKACH (UKR)
5. SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL)
6. Taybe YUSEIN (BUL)
7. Ayana GEMPEI (JPN)
9. XU Rui (CHN)
10. Monica MICHALIK (POL)
11. Petra OLLI (FIN)
12. Valeria LAZINSKAYA (RUS)
13. Braxton STONE (CAN)
15. Hafize SAHIN (TUR)
17. Ekaterina LARIONOVA (KAZ)
18. WANG Xiaoqian (CHN)
19. Kriszta INCZE (ROU)


2016 Olympic Games
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver – Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus); Bronze – Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Monika Ewa Michalak (Poland); 5th – Elena Pirozhkova (United States); 5th – Inna Trazhukova (Russia); 7th – Anastasia Grigorjeva (Latvia); 8th – Hafize Sahin (Turkey); 9th- Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 10th – Henna Johansson (Sweden)

2015 World Championships
63 kg/138 lbs. - Gold – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Silver – Risako Kawai (Japan); Bronze – Yulia Tkach (Ukraine); Bronze – Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); 5th – Braxton Stone (Canada); 5th – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); 7th – Sandra Roa Velandia (Columbia); 8th – Buse Tosun (Turkey); 9th – Adela Hanzlickova (Czech Republic); 10th – Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus)

2014 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Yuliya Tkach (Ukraine); Silver – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Bronze – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); Bronze – Valeriia Lazinskaya (Russia); 5th – Monika Michalik (Poland); 5th – Henna Johansson (Sweden); 7th – Maria Mamashuk (Belarus); 8th – Danielle Lappage (Canada); 9th – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); 10th – Wang Xiaoqian (China)

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)