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2018 World Championships preview at 59 kg/130 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 30, 2018, 12:13 p.m. (ET)

Two-time World silver medalist Alli Ragan of the USA, shown at the 2017 Worlds, is seeking to take the next step on the World podium. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

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

For a non-Olympic weight class which may not have a huge number of entries, the 59 kg women’s draw will be difficult indeed. With World and Olympic champions and seven past World medalists expected in Budapest, it will be tough sledding in order to make the medal rounds.

The top star is 2016 Olympic champion and 2017 World champion Risako Kawai of Japan, who won her Olympic gold up at 63 kg but found her way to 59 kg last year. She also boasts a 2015 World silver medal up at 63 kg. Kawai wandered up to 63 kg for the Asian Games this year and took a bronze medal. She won one Cadet and two Junior World titles before taking on the Senior level.

The other past World champion in the field is 2016 World gold medalist Xingru Pei of China. She has competed often at 57 kg since taking her World title at 60 kg. She won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games at 57 kg, and also won the 2018 Asian Championships down at 57 kg. She was a Youth Olympic Games runner-up in 2014 and A Junior World bronze medalist in 2016.

Reaching the finals at 60 kg the last two years and coming home with silver medals was Alli Ragan of the United States. Ragan has made her sixth straight Senior World Team, and also boasts a pair of Junior World bronze medals for Team USA. Ragan won a silver medal at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix this winter and was third at the Grand Prix of Spain. She tends to bring her best wrestling at the major events each year.

Russia boasts another two-time World silver medalist, Irina Olgonova, who captured her silver medals in 2015 and 2016 down at 55 kg. This year, Olgonova has wrestled the entire season at 57 kg, including a second place finish at the Russian Nationals and a silver medal at the European Championships.

One of the rising stars in women’s wrestling is Marwa Amri of Tunisia, who won Africa’s first Olympic medal in women’s wrestling with her bronze medal at 58 kg in the Rio Games. She followed that up with a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships at 58 kg, falling to the great Helen Maroulis of the USA in the finals. She won a silver medal in the Poland Open, a World Championships tune-up event, at 59 kg, and also wrestled once at 62 kg this year. A three-time Olympian, Amri has paid her dues and as improved over time.

There are three other past World bronze medalists in the expected draw, Linda Morais of Canada, Elif Jale Yesilirmak of Turkey and Geeta of India.

Morais won her World bronze at 60 kg in 2016. Morais boasts World University gold medals in both 2016 and 2018. She was seventh in the 2017 World Championships at 60 kg. Both of her major events this year were up at 62 kg.

Yesilirmak won her World bronze medal in 2015 at 58 kg. She did not compete in 2017 after placing ninth at the Rio Olympic Games at 58 kg. This year, she has put together some strong performances, including gold medals at the European Championships and the Mediterranean Games.

Geeta won a World bronze medal in 2012 at 55 kg. She has not been very active in recent years, winning a 2017 Commonwealth title at 59 kg and taking third at the Yasar Dogu at 65 kg this year. She made an Olympic Games appearance in 2012.

Katsiaryna Yanushkevich of Belarus has reached two World bronze medal bouts and lost, taking fifth at the 2015 and 2016 World Championships at 55 kg. Yanushkevich has won three medals at the World Military Championships, including a bronze medal this year at 59 kg. She was also fifth at this year’s European Champioonships at this weight.

Shoovdor Baatarjav of Mongolia was fifth at the 2017 World Championships at 60 kg. She has put together a solid season, with gold medals at 59 kg at the Mongolia Open and the Medved International in Belarus.

Another athlete to watch is Tetiana Omelchenko of Azerbaijan, who was third at the 2018 European Championships. Since last year’s Senior Worlds, where she missed the medal rounds at 60 kg, Omelchenko has won five international medals, including a bronze medal at the 2017 U23 Worlds, a gold medal at the Ukrainian Memorial International and a silver medal at the Medved International in Belarus. She started her career wrestling for Ukraine.

A young talent moving up is Madina Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan, who won a silver medal at the Grand Prix of Spain this year and was fifth in the 2016 Junior World Championships. Also moving up in the Senior ranks is Olena Kremzer of Ukraine, who won the Yasar Dogu in Turkey and was third at the Poland Open this year. Kremzer was a two-time Cadet World champion and two-time Junior World medalist. 2018 Pan American champion Andribeth Rivera of Puerto Rico is also a young athlete to watch.

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


2017 World Championships
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver - Alli Ragan (USA); Bronze –Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia) ; Bronze –Johanna Mattsson (Sweden); 5th - Luisa Niemesch (Germany); 5th - Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 7th - Linda Morais (Canada); 8th - Kriszta Tunde Incze (Romania); 9th - Mimi Nikolova Hristova (Bulgaria); 10th - Thi My Hanh Nguyen (Vietnam)

2016 World Championships
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold - Xingru Pei (China); Silver - Alli Ragan (USA); Bronze - Linda Morais (Canada); Bronze - Emese Barka (Hungary); 5th - Ayaulym Kassymova (Kazakhstan); 5th - Yui Sakano (Japan); 7th – Laura Mertens (Germany); 8th – Katarzyna Madrowska (Poland); 9th – Shovdoor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 10th – Viktoria Bobeva (Bulgaria)

2015 World Championships
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold – Oksana Herhel (Ukraine); Silver – Tserenchim Sukhee (Mongolia); Bronze – Dzhanan Manolova (Bulgaria); Bronze – Leigh Jaynes-Provisor (USA); 5th – Yazhen Sun (China); 5th – Irina Netreba (Azerbaijan); 7th – Veranika Ivanova (Belarus); 8th – Emese Barka (Hungary); 9th – Tayla Tuahine Ford (New Zealand); 10th – Hafize Sahin (Turkey)

2014 World Championships
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold – Tserenchimed Sukhee (Mongolia); Silver – Yuliya Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Natalia Golts (Russia); Bronze – Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); 5th – Petra Olli (Finland); 5th – Malin Johanna Mattsson (Sweden); 7th – Oksana Herhel (Ukraine); 8th – Sakshi Malik (India); 9th – Katsuki Sakagami (Japan); 10th – Michelle Fazzari (Canada)

2013 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold – Mariana Sastin (Hungary); Silver – Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); Bronze – Munkhtuya Tungalag (Mongolia); Bronze – Yuliya Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); 5th – Ayaka Ito (Japan); 5th – Tetyana Lavenchuk (Ukraine); 7th – Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan); 8th – Joyce Souza Da Silva (Brazil); 9th – Alli Ragan (USA); 10th – Karima Sanchez Karima (Spain)

2012 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold – Lan Zhang (China); Silver – Zalina Sidakova (Belarus); Bronze – Munkhtuya Tungalag (Mongolia); Bronze – Olga Butkevych (Great Britain); 5th - Sheoran Shilpi (India); 5th - Kayoko Shimada (Japan); 7th - Yuliya Ratkevich (Azerbaijan); 8th - Ekaterina Melnikova (Russia); 9th - Michelle Fazzari (Canada); 10th - Leigh Jaynes (USA)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Svetlana Lipatova (Russia)
2 Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey)
3 Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia)
4 Yuzuru Kumano (Japan)
5 Olena Kremzer (Ukraine)
6 Ningning Rong (China)
7 Nabira Esenbaeva (Uzbekistan)
8 Veronika Chumikova (Russia)
9 Bisola Makanjuola (Nigeria)
10 Mimi Nikolova Hristova (Bulgaria)