Dates of competition: Tuesday, October 23 and Wednesday, October 24
As an Olympic weight class, the new 68 kg division is a mix of top talents from the previous 69 kg division, as well as a healthy number of athletes moving up from the former 63 kg field. In Budapest, there should be a strong mix of experienced stars, along with a number of young athletes making their move midway through the Olympic quadrennium.
The lone past Senior World champion in the expected field is Jenny Fransson of Sweden, who won her World title at 72 kg back in 2012. Fransson has been competing at 69 kg in recent years, with a 2016 Olympic bronze medal to her credit, along with a fifth-place finish at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships. Fransson did not compete at the 2017 Worlds, but has been very strong in 2018. She won the 2018 European Championships and the Klippan Lady Open up at 72 kg, before taking a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Spain at 68 kg. Fransson will not get a seed because she didn’t drop in weight until later in the year. A two-time Olympian, Fransson has been competitive for a long time at the highest levels.
2015 World silver medalist Feng Zhou of China is also in the hunt for a title. Zhou won gold medals at both the 2018 Asian Championships and the 2018 Asian Games. She also boasts a 2012 Junior World title and a 2011 Junior World bronze medal. In total, she has four Asian Games or Asian Championships gold medals and six Senior-level Asian medals, and also competed at the 2012 Olympics.
Coming in with two World or Olympic bronze medals is Yekaterina Larionova of Kazakhstan, who was third in the 2016 Olympics and third at the 2013 World Championships, both at 63 kg. She was not active in 2017, but has two 2018 international events, a bronze at the Medved International at 68 kg and a fifth place at the Grand Prix of Spain at 72 kg. Her age-group career was strong, with a Cadet World title in 2011, and a pair of Junior World medals in 2012 and 2014.
The No. 1 seed will go to 2010 World bronze medalist Alla Cherkasova of Ukraine, who has four medal performances this season, gold medals at the Poland Open and the China Open, a silver at the Klippan Lady Open and a bronze at the Outstanding Ukrainian Memorial. Cherkasova’s next best World effort was a seventh place at the 2012 Worlds at 63 kg. She competed in the 2016 Olympic Games, and was a 2008 Junior World bronze medalist.
One of the popular rising stars in women’s wrestling is 2017 Senior World bronze medalist Koumba Larroque of France, who has had a long string of age-group achievements leading into Budapest. Since 2015, she has won a World title every year, with a Cadet World gold in 2015, a Junior World gold in 2016, a U23 World gold in 2017 and another Junior World gold in 2018. Larroque was second at the 2018 European Senior Championships, but added gold medals this year at the World Military Championships and the European U23 Championships. She has all the stuff necessary to win many more titles ahead.
Beating Larroque to win the 2018 European gold medal was Anastasia Bratchikova of Russia, who was also the 2018 Russian Nationals champion and claimed a silver at the 2018 Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. Bratchikova has three previous Senior World appearances, with her top finish being fifth at the 2013 Worlds in Budapest at 62 kg. She claimed a Junior World title back in 2008 and added a Junior World bronze medal in 2009.
Two talented wrestlers who reached medal bouts at the 2017 World Championships in Paris are Martina Kuenz of Austria, who was fifth at 69 kg, and Blessing Oborududu of Nigeria, who was fifth at 63 kg.
Kuenz was third at the 2018 European Championships at 68 kg, and added a gold medal at 72 kg at the Grand Prix of Spain. She is also a two-time European U23 silver medalist, and won a bronze medal at the 2011 Cadet Worlds.
Oborududu has paid her dues, and has been to both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. She boasts eight Senior African Championships titles, plus a 2015 All-African Games gold medal. This year, she has added a Commonwealth Games gold medal, as well.
The United States has a serious gold-medal contender in Tamyra Mensah-Stock, who placed ninth in her first Senior World Championships in 2017. Mensah-Stock will enter Budapest with a No. 2 seed at this weight class, with a series of strong finishes in 2018. She won the 2018 Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in January, becoming the first American to win back-to-back titles at the Yarygin ever (Kyle Snyder matched the feat the next day). She won gold at the 2018 Grand Prix of Spain and bronzes at the Klippan Lady Open and the Poland Open. She also beat Oborududu in a tight battle during Beat the Streets in New York. Mensah-Stock won the 2016 Olympic Trials but did not go to Rio when the weight did not get qualified. She has talent, desire and a great attitude, and has been working on improving her mental game. A World University silver medalist in 2014, Mensah-Stock could make her big move to the podium this year as a Senior.
Winning silver medals at both the 2018 Asian Championships and the 2018 Asian Games was Mongolia’s Tumentsetseg Sharkhuu, who last competed in a Senior World Championships way back in 2009. Sharkhuu has won the Mongolia Open title the last three years.
The 2017 World champion was Japan’s Sara Dosho, who will not compete this year in Budapest. Japan may send Rio Watari, a 2016 Olympian who missed more than a season after that battling Hodgkins Lymphoma, a form of cancer. A 2014 Asian Games champion, Watari won the 2018 All-Japan Invitational to punch her Budapest ticket. Another option for Japan is Rino Abe, a 2015 Junior World champion.
Bose Tosun of Turkey, who was seventh in the 2016 Olympic Games, has a solid season going, with a bronze medal at the European Championships and gold medals at the European U23 Championships and the Mediterranean Games. Tosun was a 2016 University World champion and also won a Junior World silver medal back in 2013.
Still competing in 2018 is the amazing Monika Ewa Michalik, who won a 2016 Olympic bronze medal at the age of 36. Michalik did not attend the 2017 Worlds, but has wrestled four international events in 2018 at 68 kg, with a fifth place at the European Championships. Michalik won World bronze medals way back in 2006 and 2007.
Veteran Dalma Caneva of Italy is always a tough draw, and has wrestled six international tournaments at 68 kg this year, including silver medals at the Poland Open and the Mediterranean Games. A 2014 Junior World silver medalist and a 2013 Junior World bronze medalist, Caneva has been in three previous Senior World events.
Moving down from 75 kg is Anna Schell of Germany, who won the Ion Corneanu title in Romania at 68 kg this summer. 2016 Olympian Yanet Sovero Nino of Peru was a 2018 Pan American bronze medalist and recently won a silver at the Ion Corneanu Memorial in Romania. Sovero has won seven Pan American medals during her career. Placing fifth at the 2018 European Championships was Viktoria Bobeva of Bulgaria, who last wrestled at Senior Worlds in 2013. A 2012 Olympian, Ilana Kratysh of Israel, is another experienced entry in the field. Vanessa Wilson of host Hungary, a former Canadian wrestler, is a challenger to watch.
Note: TheMat.com will be posting daily weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2017 World Champinships
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold - Sara Dosho (Japan); Silver - Aline Focken (Germany); Bronze – Koumba Larroque (France) ; Bronze – Yue Han (China) ; 5th - Martina Kuenz (Austria); 5th - Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); 7th - Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 8th - Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus); 9th - Tamyra Mensah (USA); 10th - Anastasia Bratchikova (Russia)
2016 Olympic Games
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Sara Dosho (Japan); Silver – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Bronze – Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Enas Ahmed (Egypt); 5th – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); 7th – Buse Tosun (Turkey); 8th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 9th – Aline Focken (Germany); 10th – Gilda Maria De Oliveira (Brazil)
2015 World Championships
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Silver – Feng Zhou (China); Bronze – Sara Dosho (Japan)
Bronze – Aline Focken (Germany); 5th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 7th – Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); 8th – Enas Moustafa (Egypt); 9th – Martina Kuenz (Austria); 10th – Elena Pirozkhova (USA)
2014 World Championships
69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Aline Focken (Germany); Silver – Sara Dosho (Japan); Bronze – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Bronze – Laura Skujina (Latvia); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Diana Gonzalez (Mexico); 7th – Alina Makhunia (Ukraine); 8th – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); 9th – Leidy Izquierdo (Colombia); 10th – Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus (Poland)
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)
Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeds)
1 Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine)
2 Tamyra Mensah (USA)
3 Laura Skujina (Latvia)
4 Tumentsetseg Sharkhuu (Mongolia)
5 Anastasia Bratchikova (Russia)
6 Jiao Wang (China)
7 Meerim Zhumanzarova (Kyrgyzstan)
8 Koumba Larroque (France)
9 Irina Kazyulina (Kazakhstan)
10 Feng Zhou (China)