2019 World Championships preview at 59 kg/130 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 25, 2019, 1:06 p.m. (ET)
Alli Ragan (left) in her 2019 Final X series, will return to the World Championships as one of the top gold-medal hopefuls. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Dates of competition: Wednesday, September 18 and Thursday, September 19

The 59 kg weight class is a non-Olympic weight class, and will be greatly affected at the 2019 Senior World Championships, which serves as the first Olympic qualifying event. Athletes who have competed at 59 kg in recent years have an option to drop two kg to go down to 57 kg, or jump three kg to go up to 62 kg, and try to make the Olympic Games field.

Both finalists from the 2019 World Championships at 59 kg, World champion Risako Kawai of Japan and World silver medalist Elif Jale Yesilirmak of Turkey, are reportedly going down to 57 kg. The two 2018 World bronze medalists at 59 kg, Xingru Pei of China and Shoovdor Baatarjav of Mongolia are expected to compete at this weight in Nur-Sultan. Based upon last year’s results, both should be top contenders for the title this year.

Pei is also a past World champion, winning a 2016 World gold medal at 60 kg. This year, Pei won a silver medal at the Klippan Lady Open at 59 kg, then moved up to 62 kg where she wrestled twice, including claiming a bronze at a UWW Ranking event, the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. 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.

Baatarjav has been all over the place with her weight in 2019, competing at 59 kg, 62 kg and 65 kg. In addition to her World bronze last year, Baatarjav was fifth at the 2017 World Championships at 60 kg. In her one event at this weight class in 2019, Baatarjev won the Mongolia Open. This will be her fifth straight year competing at the Senior World Championships for Mongolia. Although she is No. 10 in the UWW Ranking Series, she may get a seed because so many of those ranked may not be at this weight class in Nur-Sultan.

An athlete who has a legitimate chance of being a top favorite in this weight class did not compete at the Worlds last year, two-time World silver medalist Alli Ragan of the United States. An injury kept her out of the Worlds in Budapest, and she was replaced by Jenna Burkert. Ragan was second in the World at 2016 and 2017 at 60 kg. It was Pei who beat her in the 1996 World finals. Since returning to health this year, Ragan made her seventh straight U.S. Senior World Team. Add in a pair of Junior World medals, and Ragan has proven the ability to reach medal rounds in major competitions.

The seeding at this weight class should be quite messed up. The top two in the UWW Ranking Series, Kawai and Yesilirmak, are down a weight class, giving up those seeds. The next two in the rankings, Svetlana Lipatova of Russia and Kumari Manju of India, are not expected to compete at 59 kg at the Worlds either.

Perhaps getting the top seed at the weight class is the No. 5 ranked Yuzuka Inagaki of Japan, who is coming off a Junior World gold medal performance at 62 kg in early August. She earned her UWW ranking by winning two major events this year at 57 kg, the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia and the Asian Championships.

The next in the UWW Rankings who is expected to compete at 59 kg is Linda Morais of Canada, who won a 2016 World bronze at 60 kg. Although ranked No. 7, it will be high enough to get Morais a seed. She wrestled once at 59 kg in 2019, winning a UWW Ranking event, the City of Sassari International in Italy. Her two other events this year on the international scene were up at 62 kg. Morais boasts World University gold medals in both 2016 and 2018. She was 10th in the 2018 Worlds at 59 kg.

A legitimate medal favorite is Pooja Dhanda of India, who was a 2018 World bronze medalist at 57 kg and is expected to be up at 59 kg in Nur-Sultan. Dhanda won the Dan Kolov UWW Ranking event and was second in another Ranking Event, the City of Sassari International. A two-time Commonwealth champion, Dhanda has explosive talent.

Katsiaryna Yanushkevich Hanchar of Belarus has qualified for medal matches at the World Championships twice in her career, losing both times to place fifth at the 2015 and 2016 World Championships at 55 kg. Since the 2018 World Championships, where she missed the medal rounds at 59 kg, Hanchar has bounced back and forth between 57 kg and 59 kg. At 59 kg this year, she was second at the Yasar Dogu in Turkey and ninth in the European Championships. Hanchar has won three medals at the World Military Championships.

Another medal hopeful will be Tetiana Omelchenko of Azerbaijan, who was a European bronze medalist up at 62 kg this year. Omelchenko won a bronze at the 2018 European Championships at 59 kg. She won a bronze medal at the 2017 U23 World Championships. She started her international career wrestling for Ukraine, who she represented at the 2014 Junior World Championships.

Russia is projected to enter Lyubov Ovcharova at this weight class. She won Junior World titles back in 2014 and 2015. Ovcharova boasts a 2017 European Senior title at 60 kg, but missed the medal rounds at the Senior Worlds this year. She boasts two gold medals this year, at the Grand Prix of Spain and the Poland Open.

Kateryna Zhydachevska of Romania was fifth in the 2018 World Championships down at 57 kg. She has wrestled at three weight classes this season, 57 kg, 59 kg and 62 kg. She was eighth at the 2019 European Championships at 59 kg.

A regular competitor at 59 kg this season has been Madina Bakbergenova of Kazakhstan, who has competed at both the Senior and U23 levels. Her best efforts in 2019 were a silver medal at the U23 Asian Championships and a silver medal at the Senior-level Poland Open, a top tune-up event for the Worlds. Bakbergenova was fifth in the 2016 Junior World Championships.

2018 University World champion Ramona Galambos of Hungary was fifth at the 2019 Senior European Championships at 59 kg, but dropped to 57 kg and won the U23 European Championships at that weight class. She was also third this year at the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden at 59 kg. She tuned up for Worlds at the Poland Open, where she was eighth at 59 kg.

Alejandro Romero Bonilla of Mexico was fifth at the 2018 Worlds at 59 kg, then placed fifth at the 2018 U23 World Championships, also at 59 kg. This year, she dropped to 57 kg and placed fifth at the Pan American Games. If she is at 59 kg in Nur-Sultan, she is expected to be very competitive.

Others to watch include 2016 University World bronze medalist Elif Yanik of Turkey and 2016 Junior World silver medalist Anzhelina Lysak of Ukraine, plus Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako of Cameroon, who was eighth at the 2018 World Championships and second in the 2019 African Championships.

RECENT WORLD RESULTS

2018 World Championships
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver - Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey); Bronze - Xingru Pei (China); Bronze - Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia); 5th - Svetlana Lipitova (Russia); 5th - Alejandro Romero Bonilla (Mexico); 7th - Sarita (India); 8th - Joseph Emilienne Essombe Tiako (Cameroon); 9th - Linda Morais (Canada); 10th - Sofiia Bodnar (Ukraine)

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 - Risako Kawai (Japan), 60
2 - Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey), 56
3 - Svetlana Lipatova (Russia), 50
4 - Kumari Manju (India), 40
5 - Yuzuka Inagaki (Japan), 32
6 - Sarita Mor (India), 40
7 - Linda Morais (Canada), 28
8 - Laurence Beauregard (Canada), 28
9 - Battsetseg Altantsetseg (Mongolia), 26
10 - Shoovdor Baatarjav (Mongolia), 25