USA Wrestling

Sep 01 2009 World Championships preview at 72 kg 158 5 lbs in women s freestyle wrestling

By Gary Abbott | Sept. 01, 2009, 1:11 p.m. (ET)
Capturing the 2008 Olympic gold medal was China's Wang Jaio, who defeated the reigning World champion Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria in the finals. China has won the Olympic title in this weight class in both Olympics which featured women's wrestling, as Wang Xu was the Olympic champion in 2004.

Zlateva bounced back from her disappointment in the Beijing Olympics a few weeks later to capture the 2008 World gold medal at this division. FILA hosted a full seven-weight class World Championships in October in women's wrestling. It was Zlateva's third straight World title, putting her in a strong position going into the new Olympic cycle. In the World finals, Zlateva beat a different Chinese star, Yan Hong.

It is not clear which Chinese wrestler will compete in Herning. Hong won the 2009 Asian Championships for China. You can be certain that Zlateva will be competing for Bulgaria. She won the 209 European Championships, the Golden Grand Prix finals and the major World tune-up event, the Poland Open.

Winning Olympic bronze medals were Japan's Kyoko Hamaguchi and Poland's Angieszka Wieczczek of Poland. Winning World Championships bronze medals were Hamaguchi and Ohenewa Akuffo of Canada.

Hamaguchi has won two Olympic bronze medals, to go along with five World gold medals. It is reported that Asuka Sano, the 2009 Asian runner-up, will represent Japan at the World Championships. Hamaguchi did wrestle in the Poland Open, but only placed fifth.

Wieczczek is still competing, winning a European bronze medal. Akuffo wrestled in the Golden Grand Prix this year, capturing a bronze, but the Canadian who won the Pan American Championships was Pamela Wilson.

Ali Bernard of the United States, who was fifth at the Olympic Games, made her first U.S. World team. A two-time Junior World champion, she has considerable experience. Bernard won a bronze at the Poland Open, showing that she will be ready for the Worlds this year.

Russia is loaded at this weight class and has many options. There is 2004 Olympic silver medalist Gouzel Manyurova and 2006 World bronze medalist Elena Perepelkina. They could go with Elena Starodubtseva, who was fifth at the 2008 World Championships, or Ekatarina Bukina, who was second behind Zlateva at the Poland Open. They could even bring 2009 Junior World champion Natalya Vorobeva. Whoever Russia brings will be a medal contender.

This weight class features a number of wrestlers who have been placing at major events in recent years. Among the best of them are 2009 European bronze medalist Svetlana Sayenko of Ukraine and veteran Anita Schatzle of Germany. Both have won World-level medals and have proved themselves time and again.

There are others who are medal hopefuls, including Maider Under of Spain, Rosangela Conceicao of Brazil, Jenny Fransson of Sweden, Burmaa Ochirbat of Mongolia, Jaresmit Weffer of Venezuela, Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus, Olga Zhanibekova of Kazakhstan and Elena Mudrag of Romania.


2008 Olympic Games
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Wang Jaio (China); Silver - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Bronze - Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); Bronze - Agnieszka Wieszczek (Poland); 5th - Ali Bernard (USA); 5th - Maider Under (Spain); 7th - Anita Schatzle (Germany); 8th - Rosangela Conceicao (Brazil); 9th - Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 10th - Ohenewa Akuffo (Canada)

2008 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Silver - Yan Hong (China); Bronze - Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); Bronze - Ohenewa Akuffo (Canada); 5th - Alena Starodubtseva (Russia); 5th - Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 7th - Jaresmit Weffer (Venezuela); 8th - Natalya Shynkarova (Belarus); 9th - Maria Vryoni (Greece); 10th - Elena Mudrag (Romania)

2007 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Silver - Kristie Marano (United States); Bronze - Olga Zhanibekova (Kazakhstan) ; Bronze - Gouzel Manyurova (Russia); 5th - Xu Wang (China) ; 5th - Maider Unda (Spain); 7th - Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 8th - Svetlana Sayenko (Ukraine) ; 9th - Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); 10th - Rosangela Conceicao (Brazil)

2006 World Championships results
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Silver - Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); Bronze - Elena Perepelkina (Russia); Bronze - Kristie Marano (United States); 5th - Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus); 5th - Ohenewa Akuffo (Canada); 7th - Svitlana Saenko (Ukraine); 8th - Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 9th - Maria-Louisa Vrioni (Greece); 10th - Wang Jiao (China)

2005 World Championships results
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Iris Smith (USA); Silver - Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); Bronze - Anita Schaetzle (Germany); Bronze - Svetlana Sayenko (Ukraine); 5th - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); 5th - Jiao Wang (China); 7th - Ohenewa Akuffo (Canada); 8th - Bumaa Orchirbat (Mongolia); 9th - Marina Gastl (Austria); 10th - Olga Zhanibekova (Kazakhstan)