Whitney Conder at the 2019 Pan Am Games. Photo by Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors
Dates of competition: Tuesday, September 14 and Wednesday, September 15
One of the biggest surprises in wrestling this year is that back-to-back World Champion Yuki Susaki will not be representing Japan at the World Championships. The honor will instead go to Yuki Irie, who defeated Susaki, 6-1, at the Japanese World Team Trials.
What makes this situation even more interesting is that if Irie medals, she will be guaranteed a spot on the 2020 Olympic Team per Japan’s selection criteria. Irie is without a doubt a World Class wrestler. She is a previous Junior World Champion, and earlier this year she won the 2019 Asian Championships, defeating 2013 Senior World Champion and 2018 World bronze medalist, Sun Yanan of China in the finals. However, Susaki has been perfect in international competition, winning three Cadet World titles and a Junior World title in addition to her two Senior World titles. It is hard to fathom such a transcendental talent being sidelined during the Olympic year, but it speaks to why Japan dominates the World in women’s freestyle.
Japan has locked down the lightest weight class for the better part of a decade. The last non-Japanese champion was Vanesa Kaladzinskaya of Belarus in 2012. Before that, Japanese wrestlers brought home titles in 2010 and 2011, but in 2009 Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan took gold. Stadnik took silver to Susaki in 2018 and could be the most likely candidate to break Japan’s strangle hold on the lightest weight class. The veteran Stadnik is a three-time Olympic medalist and five-time World medalist. Stadnik is the 2019 European Games Champion. She defeated 2018 World bronze medalist Oksana Livach of Ukraine in the finals.
Livach is currently No. 2 in the UWW Ranking Series standings. However, she will earn the No. 1 spot in the bracket with Susaki not competing for Japan. In addition to her runner-up performance at the European Games, she placed first in both the Senior and U23 2019 European Championships and runner-up at the International Ukrainian Open. However, she only finished 12th at the Poland Open two weeks ago. Livach has been known for enigmatic results in her career. Her 2018 Senior World bronze medal was sandwiched between a seventh-place finish at the Poland Open and a 16th-place performance at the U23 World Championships.
The other returning bronze medalist is Yanan of China. Besides her runner-up finish to Irie at the Asian Championships, Yanan won the 2019 Klippan Lady Open and placed eighth at the Dan Kolov and Nikola Petrov Tournament. Yanan is one of the most experienced wrestlers in this weight class and has a 2016 Olympic bronze medal in addition to gold, silver and bronze World medals.
Two other wrestlers to watch for are current UWW No. 3 Seema Seema of India and No. 5 Evin Demirhan of Turkey.
Seema is down from 53 kg, where last year she placed 21st at the World Championships. By making the drop to 50 kg, she displaced last year’s fifth-place finisher for India Ritu Phogat. The moves seems to have been a good one for Seema, who won the Yasar Dogu and the Sassari City Tournament this year. Additionally, Seema finished runner-up at the Spanish Grand Prix and took fifth at the Asian Championships.
Demirhan’s magic number has been three this year. She placed third at the European Games, the European Championships, the Yasar Dogu, and the Dan Kolov and Nikola Petrov Tournament. Demirhan had a disappointing 21st-place finish at last year’s World Championships. However, she is a 2017 Senior bronze medalist and U23 World Champion.
Other wrestlers of note include former Russian Valentina Islamov-Brik, who now competes for Kazakhstan and Miesinnei Mercy Genesis of Nigeria. Islamov-Brik placed third at the Asian Championships. She took 13th at last year’s World Championships. Genesis is the African Champion and placed 16th at the 2018 World Championships.
Whitney Conder of the United States will be competing in her fifth World Championship and will try to bring home her first medal. Conder previously competed primarily at 53 kg but also spent some time at 51 kg, making 50 kg the third weight she’s wrestled at the World Championships. In 2019 Conder won the Pan American Games and the Grand Prix of Germany, while finishing runner-up the Dan Kolov and Nikola Petrov tournament. Last year Conder finished 14th in the world. Her best Senior World finish to date was ninth in 2014 at 53 kg. She is a 2007 Junior World champion.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2018 World Championships
50 kg/110 lbs. – Gold- Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver – Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Oksana Livach (Ukraine); Bronze- Yanan Sun (China); 5th- Ritu Ritu (India); 5th – Kim Son-Hyang (North Korea); 7th - Kseniya Stankevich (Belarus); 8th – Fredrika Peterrson (Sweden); 9th – Narangerel Erdenesuhk (Mongolia); Oleksandra Kogut (Austria)
2017 World Championships
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold - Yui Susaki (Japan); Silver - Emilia Vuc (Romania); Bronze –Son-Hyang Kim (North Korea) ; Bronze – Evin Demirhan (Turkey); 5th - Victoria Anthony (United States); 5th - Violeta Chyryk (Belarus); 7th - Jasmine Mian (Canada); 8th – Anna Lukasiak (Poland); 9th - Julie Sabatie (France); 10th - Vinesh (India)
2016 Olympic Games
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold – Eri Tosaka (Japan); Silver – Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Yanan Sun (China); Bronze – Elitsa Yankova (Bulgaria); 5th – Zhuidyz Eshimova (Kazakhstan); 5th – Patricia Bermudez (Argentina); 7th – Iwona Matkowska (Poland); 8th – Carolina Castillo Hildago (Colombia); 9th – Haley Augello (United States); 10th – Vinesh (India)
2015 World Championships
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold – Eri Tosaka (Japan); Silver – Mariya Stadnyk (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Jessica Blaszka (Netherlands); Bronze – Genevieve Morrison (Canada); 5th – Hui Li (China); 5th – Valentina Islamova (Russia); 7th – Nataliya Pulkovska (Ukraine); 8th – Tatayana Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan); 9th – Alyssa Lampe (USA); 10th – Carolina Castillo (Colombia)
2014 World Championships
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold – Eri Tosaka (Japan); Silver – Iwona Matkowska (Poland); Bronze – Mariya Stadnyk (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Kim Hyon Gyong (North Korea); 5th – Alyssa Lampe (USA); 5th – Emilia Vuc (Romania); 7th – Iulia Leorda (Moldova); 8th – Patricia Bermudez (Argentina); 9th – Jessica Blaszka (Netherlands); 10th – Mariana Munoz (Mexico)
2013 World Championships
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold – Eri Tosaka (Japan); Silver - Mayellis Caripa Castillo (Venezuela); Bronze – Alyssa Lampe (USA); Bronze – Cheng Xu (China); 5th – Anna Lukasiak (Poland); 5th – Melanie LeSaffre (France); 7th – Tatyana Amanzhol (Kazakhstan); 8th – Pak Yong Mi (North Korea); 9th – Elena Vostrikova (Russia); 10th – Yana Stadnik (Great Britain)
2012 Olympic Games
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold – Hitomi Sakamoto Obara (Japan); Silver – Maria Stadnyk (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Clarissa Chun (USA); Bronze – Carol Huynh (Canada); 5th – Isabelle Sambou (Senegal); 5th – Irini Merleni (Ukraine); 7th – Iwona Matkowska (Poland); 8th – Vannesa Kaladzinskaya (Belarus); 9th – Otgontsetseg Davaasukh (Mongolia); 10th – Mayelis Caripa Castillo (Venezuela)
2012 World Championships
48 kg/105.5 lbs. - Gold – Vanessa Kaladzynskaya (Belarus); Silver – Eri Tosaka (Japan); Bronze – Xiaomei Li (China); Bronze – Jaqueline Schellin (Germany); 5th – Tatyana Amanzhol-Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan); 5th – Patimat Bagomedova (Azerbaijan); 7th – Estera Dobre (Romania); 8th – Anna Lukasik (Poland); 9th – Clarissa Chun (USA); 10th – Davaasuren Bayarmagnai (Mongolia)
Current UWW Ranking Series Standings (used for seeding)
1 Yui Susaki (Japan)
2 Oksana Livach (Ukraine)
3 Seema Seema (India)
4 Yanan Sun (China)
5 Evin Demirhan (Turkey
6 Anzhelika Vetoshkina (Russia)
7 Kseniya Stankevich (Belarus)
8 Erin Golston (United States)
9 Fredrika Petersson (Sweden)
10 Jacqueline Mollocanna Eleno (Ecuador)