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2018 World Championships preview at 55 kg/121 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 24, 2018, 10:53 a.m. (ET)

Jacarra Winchester of the USA, shown in Final X in Lincoln this spring, will be competing in her first Senior Worlds in Budapest. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

Dates of competition: Monday, October 22 and Tuesday, October 23

This non-Olympic weight class does have a favorite. In 2017, Japan’s Mayu Mukaida was the World silver medalist at 53 kg. This year, Haruno Okuno, who won the 55 kg World title in 2017, dropped down to 53 kg. Mukaida has moved back to 55 kg, where she won a 2016 World gold medal. Since hitting the World scene as a Cadet in 2012, Mukaida has an amazing resume, winning golds in most of the events she has entered. She won Cadet World titles in 2012 and 2013, a 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold and a 2015 Junior World title.

There is another past World champion in the field at 55 kg, the talented and popular Sofia Mattsson of Sweden, who claimed her World gold medal way back in 2009 at 51 kg. She has accumulated a huge list of honors, including a 2016 Olympic bronze medal at 53 kg. Her combined World/Olympic medal count is six at the Senior level, and you can toss in two Junior World titles. She did not compete in 2017, and has only two events in 2018, a gold at the Grand Prix of Spain and a bronze at the Poland Open, both at 55 kg. You have to consider her a medal contender, in spite of a lack of competition since the Rio Games.

None of the 2017 World medalists at 55 kg are returning at this weight class, and Mukaida is the only returning 55 kg medalist from 2016. That does not mean there are not past medalists in this field. In fact, seven athletes who have won a World medal in the past are expected at 55 kg in Budapest.

Zalina Sidakova of Belarus, a 2012 World silver medalist at 58 kg, is among those seeking success at 55 kg. She has competed quite a bit at 55 kg during the last two seasons, although she has also spent some time up in weight. She was fifth at the 2018 European Championships at 57 kg. Sidakova has entered five previous Senior World Championships, one of the most seasoned in the field. In 2018, she has bronze medals at the Poland Open and the Ukrainian Memorial International.

There is a two-time World bronze medalist expected at this weight class, Jong Myong Suk of North Korea, who won her World medals at 53 kg in 2014 and 2015. This year, Jong won the World Military gold medal down at 55 kg, but went up to 57 kg to win a gold medal at the Asian Games. Jong also competed in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Another top medal contender is 2017 World bronze medalist Roksana Zasina of Poland, who was second in the 2018 European Championships. She won gold medals at the Poland Open and the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria at 55 kg this year. A silver medalist at the 2015 European Games, Zasina has been in nine previous Senior World Championship events.

A pair of 2015 World bronze medalists at 55 kg are expected in the draw as well, Tetyana Kit of Ukraine and Evelina Nikolova of Bulgaria. Kit has spent most of this season wrestling up at 57 kg, but made the drop to 55 kg for the Poland Open, where she lost to Zasina in the finals but placed higher than Mattsson. Kit has won age-group World medals as a Cadet and a Junior. Nikolova was a 2015 European Games bronze medalist at 55 kg, and placed fifth at the 2018 European Championships.

Sitting at No. 2 in the UWW Ranking Series standings is Bediha Gun of Turkey, who was third at the European Championships this year. She was second at the Klippan Lady Open this year at 55 kg, and won agold medal at the 2016 University World Championships. Gun also competed in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Watch out for Russian National champion Lyubov Salnikova, whose only previous Senior World experience came in 2012 down at 48 kg and did not earn a medal. She was a 2010 University World silver medalist and won the tough Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in 2016.

Ramona Galambos of Hungary qualified for a medal match at the 2016 World Championships, where she was fifth at 55 kg. She is coming off a gold medal performance at the World University Championships in early September, competing up at 57 kg.

The United States will be represented by a first-time Senior World Team member, Jacarra Winchester, who captured a bronze medal at the 2014 World University Championships. Winchester claimed a gold medal at the Ukrainian Memorial International in 2018 and won bronze medals at the Grand Prix of Spain and the Bill Farrell Memorial this season. She also reached medal matches and placed fifth at the Klippan Lady Open and the Poland Open.

2018 Asian bronze medalist Davaachimeg Erkhembayar of Mongolia has won three international medals this year, and was a Junior World champion back in 2012. 2018 Junior World silver medalist Qi Zhang of China won a gold at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix earlier this year, and was a U23 World silver medalist in 2017. 2017 Pan American Championships silver medalist Lianna Montero Herrera of Cuba was a Junior World silver medalist in 2017 and is quickly improving at the Senior level.

2017 Commonwealth champion Seema is another young star on the rise. Among the other athletes to keep an eye on are Marina Sedneva of Kazakhstan and Jade Parsons of Canada

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


2017 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Haruna Okuno (Japan); Silver - Odunayo Adekuoroye (Nigeria); Bronze – Becka Leathers (United States) ; Bronze – Irina Kurachkina (Belarus); 5th - Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria); 5th - Mathilde Riviere (France); 7th - Mariia Gurova (Russia); 8th - Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia); 9th - Lalita (India); 10th - Marina Sedneva (Kazakhstan)

2016 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Silver - Irina Olgonova (Russia); Bronze – Aiym Abdildina (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Otgontsetseg Davaasukh (Mongolia); 5th - Ramona Galambos (Hungary); 5th - Katsiaryna Hanchar Yanushkevich (Belarus); 7th – Tetyana Kit (Ukraine); 8th – Jaqueline Schellin (Germany); 9th – Iulia Leorda (Moldova); 10th – Sara Hildebrandt (USA)

2015 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Helen Maroulis (United States); Silver – Irina Ologonova (Russia); Bronze – Evelina Nikolova (Bulgaria); Bronze – Tetyana Kit (Ukraine); 5th – Qianyu Pang (China); 5th – Katsiaryna Yanushkevich (Belarus); 7th – Anri Kimura (Japan); 8th – Marwa Amri (Tunisia); 9th – Jasmine Mian (Canada); 10th – Byambatseren Sundev (Mongolia)

2014 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Chiho Hamada (Japan); Silver – Irina Ologonova (Russia); Bronze – Helen Maroulis (USA); Bronze – Iryna Khariv (Ukraine); 5th – Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland); 5th – Karima Sanchez (Spain); 7th – Marwa Amri (Tunisia); 8th – Giullia Rodrigues (Brazil); 9th – Zalina Sidakova (Belarus); 10th – Jiahui Dong (China)

2013 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); Bronze – Emese Barka (Hungary); Bronze – Valeriia Koblova (Russia); 5th – Mimi Hristova (Bulgaria); 5th – Iryna Husyak (Ukraine); 7th – Helen Maroulis (USA); 8th – Byambatseren Sundev (Mongolia); 9th – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece); 10th – Marwa Amri (Tunisia)

2012 Olympic Games
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver – Tonya Verbeek (Canada); Bronze – Jackeline Renteria (Colombia); Bronze – Yulia Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); 5th – Tetyana Lazareva (Ukraine); 5th – Valeria Zholobova (Russia); 7th – Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); 8th – Marwa Amri (Tunisia); 9th – Lissette Antes (Ecuador); 10th – Kum Ok Han (North Korea)

2012 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Saori Yoshida (Japan); Silver – Helen Maroulis (USA); Bronze – Geeta Geeta (India); Bronze – Maria Prevolaraki (Greece); 5th - Nataliya Synyshyn (Ukraine); 5th - Brittanee Laverdure (Canada); 7th - Katarzyna Krawczyk (Poland); 8th - Chen Yang (China); 9th - Joice Da Silva (Brazil); 10th - Maria Gurova (Russia)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Roksana Zasina (Poland)
2 Bediha Gun (Turkey)
3 Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia)
4 Hyemin Oh (Korea)
5 Iryna Kurachkina (Belarus)
6 Ramona Galambos (Hungary)
7 Zalina Sidakova (Belarus)
8 Jacarra Winchester (USA)
9 Nazgul Nurakhan (Kazakhstan)
10 Saki Igarishi (Japan)