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2019 World Championships preview at 55 kg/121 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | Aug. 19, 2019, 4:56 p.m. (ET)

With 55 kg being an non-Olympic weight class, many of the women who have competed at this weight class the past few years have either moved up or down in weight. This includes last year’s World champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan.

However, to the surprise of many, 2018 53 kg World champion and 2017 55 kg World champion Haruna Okuno did not did not earn Japan’s 55 kg spot this year after moving back up. That honor will go to Nanomi Irie. After losing to Mukaida in the Japan Championship finals at 53 kg, Irie moved up and defeated Okuno, 3-1, at Japan’s special wrestle-offs in July for the 55 kg spot.

Nanomi, the younger sister of Japan’s 50 kg World Team member Yuki Irie, is clearly no slouch and will be in contention for a gold medal. She is a 2015 Junior World champion, 2012 Cadet World champion and has been competing on the Senior level for Japan since 2013. In September of 2018, she defeated Sarah Hildebrandt, 4-2, at the Poland Open.

Going off of the weights athletes have been wrestling at since last year’s World Championships, the two big returning names are silver medalist Zalina Sidakova of Belarus and fifth-place finisher Jacarra Winchester of the U.S.

Despite taking silver at last year’s World Championships and holding the current No. 1 ranking, Sidakova has had somewhat of a rocky 2019 season. She took seventh at the Klippan Lady Open, fifth at the Dan Kolov - Nikola Petrov Tournament, fifth at the European Championships and runner-up at the Ukranian International Tournament.

Although Winchester has taken several loses as well, she mostly competed at 57 kg this year. However, in Winchester’s most recent competition, she took bronze at the Poland Open earlier this month at 55 kg. Winchester dropped a 5-1 decision in the second round to Marina Simonyan of Russia.

It is still unclear at this time who Russia will be sending to Nur-Sultan at 55 kg. It is a possibility that it will be Simonyan, who took silver at Russian Nationals to Nina Menkenova, but Menkenova most recently competed at Alexander Medved down at 53 kg where she took seventh place. It is highly likely, however, that it will either be Maria Gurova or current world No. 8 Viktoriia Vaulina. Gurova was runner-up at Russian Nationals at 57 kg but has since moved down to 55 kg, where she has won both the Spanish Grand Prix and Poland Open. Vaulina took fifth at last year’s Senior World Championships at 57 kg, but has been competing this year solely at 55 kg. She is also a Cadet and Junior World bronze medalist and a 2015 Cadet World champion.

Another recent age-level World medalist, Marina Sedneva of Kazakhstan, will be the second seed in her home country. Sedneva is a 2018 U23 World bronze medalist, 2016 Junior World silver medalist and 2015 Junior World bronze medalist. She took third at both the Asian Championships and Yasar Dogu this season.

Current world No. 12 Mengyu Xie of China was the woman who defeated Sedneva at the Asian Championships. Xie ran through the Asian Championships with relative ease, picking up two technical falls and one pin without giving up a single point en route to a gold medal.

Taking the third seed into Nur-Sultan will be Bediha Gun of Turkey. Gun went 0-1 at last year’s World Championships, but was defeated by 2009 World champion and six-time medalist Sofia Mattsson of Sweden, who has moved down to 53 kg this year. At this year’s European Championships, was defeated by current world No. 14 Iryna Husyak of Ukraine, 9-6, but defeated Sidakova 10-0 for bronze.

Husyak has bounced around between 53 kg and 55 kg this year. However, she did win the European Championships at 55 kg. At either weight, Husyak will be in the hunt for a medal.

Evelina Georgieva of Bulgaria and Jayd Davis of Canada are also women to keep an eye on.

Note: will be posting weight class previews for the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, September 14-22


2018 World Championships

55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold - Mayu Mukaida (Japan); Silver - Zalina Sidakova (Belarus); Bronze - Lianna de la Caridad Montero Herrera (Cuba); Bronze - Myong Suk Jong (DPR Korea); 5th - Jacarra Winchester (USA); 5th - Qi Zhang (China); 7th - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden); 8th - Irina Ologonova (Russia); 9th - Davaachimeg Erkhembayar (Mongolia); 10th - Tetyana Kit (Ukraine)

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 – Sarah 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)