2019 World Championships preview at 62 kg/136.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 28, 2019, 1:05 p.m. (ET)
Kayla Miracle of the USA, shown competing at 2019 Final X, will be wrestling in her first Senior World Championships. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Dates of competition: Thursday, September 19 and Friday, September 20

As an Olympic weight class, 62 kg is expected to attract a number of top athletes from non-Olympic weight classes. However, even without an influx of additional talent, this weight class was loaded last year already. We can expect some fantastic competition here in Nur-Sultan, loaded with past World and Olympic medalists.

The 2018 World champion was veteran star Taybe Yusein of Bulgaria, a five-time Senior World medalist who won her first Senior World gold last year. Her trophy case also includes World silver medals in 2012 and 2013 and bronzes in 2014 and 2015. Her medal record is not perfect, having fallen short at the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 World Championships. This year, she has secured the No. 1 seed at the World Championships, adding a European Championships gold medal and a silver medal at a UWW Ranking Event, the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria.

Another athlete with a long resume is 2014 World champion Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk of Ukraine, who boasts four Senior World medals. Tkach claimed a 2017 World silver and World bronze medals in 2015 and 2018. What is missing in her resume is an Olympic medal, with no hardware in her three Olympic appearances (2008, 2012, 2016).
So far this year, she has two wins over Yusein, in the finals at the Dan Kolov and in the semifinals at the European Games. The problem with Tkach’s 2019 season is that she only entered one UWW Ranking Tournament and will not get a seed, meaning she could run into Yusein and any other top athlete at any time, based upon the random draw.

2018 World silver medalist Yukako Kawai of Japan is a rising star on the world’s best women’s team. Kawai won the 2018 U23 World Championships last fall, and placed second in the 2019 Asian Championships. Kawai has secured the No. 3 seed for Nur-Sultan. She does not have as healthy a resume as many of her opponents, placing eighth in the 2017 World Championships at 63 kg, with a bronze at the 2014 Cadet World Championships her best age-group effort.

Petra Olli of Finland was the 2018 World champion at 65 kg, and was also a 2015 World silver medalist at 58 kg. She was at 65 kg in both of her events this year, winning bronze medals at the European Championships and the Dan Kolov International. She has won a medal at the last seven international events she has entered, all at 65 kg. By dropping to the Olympic weight class, Olli becomes a major challenger right away.

Marianna Sastin of Hungary won a World gold medal at 59 kg in 2013. Sastin has three other World medals in her trophy case, with 2005 and 2011 World silvers and a 2009 World bronze. Sastin has had an up and down season, claiming a silver medal at a UWW Ranking Event, the Yasar Dogu in Turkey, as well as a bronze medal at the European Championships, which also scored ranking points. She finished No. 5 in the UWW Ranking Series, but will slide into the No. 4 seed at Worlds, because No. 4 Mallory Velte of the USA will not be at the World Championships.

Marwa Amri of Tunisia made history at the 2016 Olympic Games, winning an Olympic bronze medal at 58 kg, the first African woman to win an Olympic wrestling medal. She followed that up with a 2017 World silver medal, losing in the finals to Olympic champion Helen Maroulis of the USA. Last year, she did not medal at the Worlds at 59 kg. She moved up to 62 kg this year, and claimed the African Championships title and a gold medal at a top tune-up event, the Poland Open. She was not able to medal in the two UWW Ranking events she entered, the Dan Kolov and the City of Sassari International.

Sweden will be represented by 2013 World bronze medalist Henna Johansson, who dropped down from 65 kg this season and has looked strong, winning gold medals in two UWW Ranking events, the Yasar Dogu and the City of Sassari International in Italy. She was a 2009 Junior World champion. This will be her eighth Senior World Championships, and she also wrestled in two Olympic Games.

2016 Olympic bronze medalist Sakshi Malik became a hero in India, as the first Olympic medalist in women’s wrestling in the nation’s history. Malik has continued to compete at a high level since Rio, with a Commonwealth Championships gold in 2017, and a medal in the last three Asian Championships. She did not place in her last two Senior Worlds.

2017 World bronze medalist Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan is another tough challenger. She beat Japan star Kawai in the finals of 2019 Asian Championships, and was also third in the Dan Kolov International, a UWW Ranking Tournament. She also won a silver at the Poland Open, a top tune-up event. Tynybekova was fifth in the 2016 Olympic Games. This will be her sixth Senior Worlds, and she wrestled in the last two Olympic Games.

The USA will be represented by Kayla Miracle, who is wrestling in her first Senior Worlds. In 2018, Miracle had a strong international season, claiming No. 2 in the UWW Ranking Series, but losing to Velte in Final X. Velte went on to win a World bronze in 2018. This year, Miracle beat Velte in two straight bouts in Final X. Miracle has extensive age-group World Championships experience, including 2014 and 2016 Junior World bronzes and a 2012 Cadet World silver. Miracle is fresh off a gold medal at the Pan American Games, in a field with a number of potential World medalists.

Two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jackeline Renteria Castillo of Colombia has been competing at 62 kg for the last two seasons. She won her Olympic medals in 2008 and 2012 at 55 kg. She also won a World bronze medal in 2017 at 63 kg. This year, Renteria won a Pan American Games silver medal, falling to Kayla Miracle of the USA in the finals, plus a bronze at the Grand Prix of Spain.

Another Pan American star in the Worlds field is Lais Nunes de Oliveira of Brazil, who was fifth at the 2018 World Championships, losing to Mallory Velte of the USA in the bronze bout. Nunes was third at the Pan American Games this year and won the Pan American Championships. She also won a bronze medal at a UWW Ranking Tournament, the City of Sassari International. Nunes captured a 2018 World Military silver medal and also competed in the 2016 Olympic Games.

Luisa Niemesch of Germany, who was fifth in the 2017 World Championships, has been at this weight the last two years, with a 2018 U23 World bronze medal to her credit. She was a 2016 Olympian, and boasts a 2014 Junior World silver medal and a 2012 Cadet World silver medal.

Russia will be represented by a young talent, Mariia Kuznetsova, a 2018 U23 World bronze medalist, who is having a strong season. After taking 10th at the 2018 Senior Worlds at 65 kg, has won medals in six straight events. Kuznetsova beat No. 1 Taybe Yusein in 2019 European Games bronze bout. She won the European U23 Championships and the respected Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix this season.

Xiaojuan Luo of China has won Asian Senior Championships gold medals in both 2015 and 2019, and an Asian Championships silver medal in 2018, but last appeared at the Senior Worlds in 2014. 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist Rim Jong-Sim of North Korea will be in her first Senior Worlds. 2018 Junior World silver medalist Nabira Esenbaeva of Uzbekistan was an Asian Senior Championships bronze medalist this year.

2018 European bronze medalist Veranika Ivanova of Belarus has also won medals at the World Military Championships and the World University Championships. Ivanova won bronzes in 2019 at the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden and the Yasar Dogu in Turkey. 2017 and 2018 U23 World bronze medalist Gantuya Enkhbat of Mongolia was a solid seventh at the 2018 Senior Worlds at this weight class.

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS

2018 World Championships
62 kg/136.75 lbs. - Gold - Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); Silver - Yukako Kawai (Japan); Bronze - Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine); Bronze - Mallory Velte (USA); 5th - Marianna Sastin (Hungary); 5th - Lais Nunes de Oliveira (Brazil); 7th - Gantuya Enkhbat (Mongolia); 8th - Lingling Bao (China); 9th - Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia); 10th - Malin Johanna Mattsson (Sweden)

2017 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Orkhon Purevdorj (Mongolia); Silver - Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine); Bronze –Valeria Lazinskaya (Russia) ; Bronze – Jackeline Renteria Castillo (Colombia); 5th - Hafize Sahin (Turkey); 5th - Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria); 7th - Henna Johansson (Sweden); 8th - Yukako Kawai (Japan); 9th - Veranika Ivanova (Belarus); 10th - Lais Nunes de Oliveira (Brazil)

2016 Olympic Games
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Risako Kawai (Japan); Silver – Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus); Bronze – Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Monika Ewa Michalak (Poland); 5th – Elena Pirozhkova (United States); 5th – Inna Trazhukova (Russia); 7th – Anastasia Grigorjeva (Latvia); 8th – Hafize Sahin (Turkey); 9th- Yulia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 10th – Henna Johansson (Sweden)

2015 World Championships
63 kg/138 lbs. - Gold – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Silver – Risako Kawai (Japan); Bronze – Yulia Tkach (Ukraine); Bronze – Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); 5th – Braxton Stone (Canada); 5th – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); 7th – Sandra Roa Velandia (Columbia); 8th – Buse Tosun (Turkey); 9th – Adela Hanzlickova (Czech Republic); 10th – Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus)

2014 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Yuliya Tkach (Ukraine); Silver – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Bronze – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); Bronze – Valeriia Lazinskaya (Russia); 5th – Monika Michalik (Poland); 5th – Henna Johansson (Sweden); 7th – Maria Mamashuk (Belarus); 8th – Danielle Lappage (Canada); 9th – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); 10th – Wang Xiaoqian (China)

2013 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Bronze – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Bronze – Yekaterina Larionova (Kazakhstan); 5th – Anastasia Bratchikova (Russia); 5th – Jackeline Renteria (Colombia); 7th – Monika Ewa Michalik (Poland); 8th – Maria Diana (Italy); 9th – Maria Mamashuk (Belarus); 10th – Ganna Vasylenko (Ukraine)

2012 Olympic Games
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Rui Xue Jing (China); Bronze – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Bronze – Lyubov Volossova (Russia); 5th – Martine Dugrenier (Canada); 5th – Monika Michalik (Poland); 7th – Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 8th – Katherine Vidiaux Lopez (Cuba); 9th – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); 10th – Hanna Johansson (Sweden)

2012 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Silver – Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria); Bronze – Luozhuoma Xi (China); Bronze – Justine Bouchard (Canada); 5th – Yelena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); 5th – Kayoko Kudo (Japan); 7th – Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine); 8th – Hanna Beliayeva (Azerbaijan); 9th – Aline Focken (Germany); 10th – Monika Michalik (Poland)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 - Taybe Mustafa Yusein (Bulgaria), 96
2 - Lais Nunes De Oliveria (Brazil), 62
3 - Yukako Kawai (Japan), 58
4 - Mallory Velte (United States), 53
5 - Marianna Sastin (Hungary), 50
6 - Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (Ukraine), 43
7 - Malin Johanna Mattsson (Sweden), 36
8 - Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan), 34
9 - Henna Katarina Johansson (Sweden), 32
10 - Marwa Amri (Tunisia), 28