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2018 World Championships preview at 53 kg/116.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 21, 2018, 6:15 p.m. (ET)

Sarah Hildebrandt of the USA, shown at the 2017 Beat the Streets Los Angeles dual meet, is No. 1 in the UWW Ranking Series standings. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

Dates of competition: Wednesday, October 24 and Thursday, October 25

How about a weight class with a pair of returning 2017 World champions in the same draw this year? That is how things are sorting out in the women’s 53 kg division for Budapest.

Two-time World champion Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus returns at 53 kg, after winning last year in Paris. She won her first World title back in 2012, when she competed in at 48 kg, and was also eighth at the 2012 Olympics. She did not qualify for the 2016 Olympics and is motivated to compete in the next one in Japan. She won a silver at the 2018 European Championships, her top effort of the season.

The other World champion in the draw is Haruna Okuno of Japan, who won the 2017 Worlds up at 55 kg but is dropping down to 53 kg this year. Okuno basically switched weights with Mayu Mukaida, who placed second to Kaladzinskaya last year in Paris, and is now up at 55 kg in Okuno’s old spot. Okuno was third at the 2018 Asian Games this year at 53 kg. She was a 2016 Cadet World champion.

Russian national champion Stalvira Orshush beat Kaladzinskaya in the European Championships finals this year, but was seventh at the 2017 Worlds at this weight class. She has put together a great 2018 season, winning the respected Klippan Lady Open and the Canada Cup, and placing second at the rugged Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia.

Three-time Pan American champion Sara Hildebrandt of the USA has been No. 1 in the UWW Ranking Series standings much of this season because of her success at many events. Hildebrandt, who was fifth in the 2016 Worlds at 55 kg, made the move down in weight this year and has seen excellent results. She won gold medals at the Grand Prix of Spain and the Ukrainian Memorial International, a silver medal at the November 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial and a bronze medal at the Klippan Lady Open. A new approach to life and training have made a big difference, as well as the confidence that comes from consistent performances.

2017 World bronze medalist Maria Prevolaraki of Greece returns seeking a third World medal, with her previous World bronze medal coming at 55 kg back in 2012. She was third in the 2018 European Championships, won a gold at the Mediterranean Games and added a bronze at the strong Poland Open. A two-time Olympian, she is among the most experienced athletes in the expected field.

North Korea’s 2018 Asian Games champion Pak Yong-Mi placed ahead of Okuno at that event. She also won the 2018 Asian Championships. Although we don’t know North Korea’s lineup at this time, she is highly expected to be their entry. Pak was fifth in the 2017 World Championships, and also eighth in the 2013 Worlds.

No athlete in this field has been competing as long as Jyldyz Eshimova of Kazakhstan, who made her first Senior World appearance way back in 2005. She won a 2008 World silver medal, and World bronze medals in 2006 and 2011. Eshimova won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games and a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Championships. A two-time Olympian, her best finish was fifth at the 2016 Rio Games.

Erdenchimeg Sumiya of Mongolia, who won a 2013 World silver medal, won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Championships and a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games. She also won gold at this year’s Mongolia Open. Sumiya competed in the 2016 Olympics and was also a 2013 World University Games silver medalist.

This weight is stocked full of other athletes who have reached medal matches in past World and Olympic competition, placing fifth in the field. This group includes:
• Estera Dobre of Romania, 5th in the 2017 World Championships
• Betzabeth Arguello of Venezuela, 5th in 2016 Olympics
• Anzhela Dorogan of Azerbaijan, 5th in 2015 World Championships
• Katarzyna Krawczyk of Poland, 5th in 2014 World Championships

Dobre was a 2008 Olympian. Arguello, a 2016 Olympian, was third in the 2018 Pan American Championships. Dorogan won a gold at the 2015 European Games. Krawczyk, who was third at the 2018 European Championships, won gold medals at the 2014 and 2017 Military Worlds.

Among the others to watch out for are Nina Hemmer of Germany, Thi Lua Nguyen of Vietnam, Pinki of India, Lujiao Liu of China and Mercedesz Denes of Hungary.

Note: will be posting weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.


2017 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold - Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (Belarus); Silver - Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Bronze – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece) ; Bronze – Roksana Zasina (Poland); 5th - Estera Dobre (Romania),; 5th - Tong-Mi Pak (North Korea); 7th - Stalvira Orshush (Russia); 8th - Haley Augello (USA); 9th - Iryna Husyak (Ukraine); 10th - Sheetal Tomar (India)

2016 Olympic Games
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold – Helen Maroulis (United States); Silver – Saori Yoshida (Japan); Bronze – Natalya Sinishin (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); 5th – Betzabeth Arguello (Venezuela); 5th – Xuechun Zhong (China); 7th – Jong Myong Suk (DPR Korea); 8th – Isabelle Sambou (Senegal); 9th- Kararzyna Krawczyk (Poland); 10th – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece)

2015 World Championships
53 kg/116.5 lbs. - Gold – Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); Bronze – Myong Jong Suk (North Korea); Bronze – Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria); 5th – Anzhela Dorogan (Azerbaijan); 5th – Xuechun Zhong (China); 7th – Kumari Bubita (India); 8th – Nina Hemmer (Germany); 9th – Thi Lua Nguyen (Vietnam); 10th – Otgontsetseg Davaasukh (Mongolia)

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)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Sarah Ann Hildebrandt (USA)
2 Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland)
3 Nanami Irie (Japan)
4 Maria Prevolaraki (Greece)
5 Yu Miyahara (Japan)
6 Aysun Erge (Turkey)
7 Sumiya Edenechimeg (Mongolia)
8 Mercedesz Denes (Hungary)
9 Stalvira Orshush (Russia)
10 Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (Belarus)