2009 World Championships preview at 63 kg 138 75 lbs in women s freestyle wrestling
For seven straight years, Kaori Icho of Japan has dominated this division, winning two Olympic gold medals and five World titles. She has always been ready for the most important meets, and shown her consistency when it counts. Since the Olympics, however, we have not seen Icho in competition.
The 2008 World Championships were less than two months after the Olympics, and a different Japanese athlete won the gold medal, Mio Nishimaki. She followed that up with a victory at the 2009 Asian Championships and the 2009 Golden Grand Prix finals. Nishimaki is reportedly competing for Japan at the Worlds in Denmark. She will face a different field than she defeated at the 2008 Worlds, as many of the veteran wrestlers who attended the Olympics did not go to the World meet.
Russia is expected to be strong in this division. Alena Kartashova won the 2008 Olympic silver medal at this weight, and followed up with a silver medal at the 2009 European Championships. Kartashova was also a World champion in 2002. At the 2008 World Championships, it was Russian Lubov Volosova who captured the silver medal. Volosova was second behind Nishimaki at the Golden Grand Prix finals.
One of the 2008 Olympic bronze medalists, Yelena Shalygina of Kazakhstan, is still competing, winning the 2009 Asian Championships up at 67 kg. Shalygina was second in the 2007 World Championships at 63 kg. The other Olympic bronze medalist, Randi Miller of the United States, has not competed since the Olympics and will not be in Herning.
The 2008 World bronze medalists were past World champions, Audrey Prieto Bokhashvili of France and Lili Meng of China. Prieto-Bokhashvili won her World title at 59 kg in 2007. Meng won a World titles at 63 kg in 2001 and 67 kg in 2005. Prieto-Bokhashvili was fifth at the European Championships this year, while Meng was third at the World Cup. China might choose to enter another athlete, such as 2009 Asian bronze medalist Fengliu Zhang or 2006 World silver medalist Xu Hai Yan, who was ninth at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Monika Michalik-Rogien of Poland won World bronze medals at this weight class in 2006 and 2007, but placed eighth in the 2008 Olympic Games. She won the 2009 European Championships, defeating Kartachova in the finals. Another recent achievement was a bronze medal at the 2009 Golden Grand Prix finals.
Coming on strong this year is Elena Pirozhkova of the United States, who dropped down after taking eighth in the 2008 World Championships at 67 kg. Pirozhkova won the 2009 Pan American Championships, then captured a gold medal in the Poland Open, a strong pre-World tune-up event. Pirozhkova is a past University World champion.
One of the talented young stars is 2009 Junior World champion Hanna Johansson of Sweden, who also captured a bronze medal at the 2009 European Championships. The other European bronze medalist this year was veteran Stefanie Stueber of Germany.
Yulia Ostapchuk of Ukraine was a 2007 Junior World champion, and placed second behind Pirozhkova at the Poland Open. She also won the European Junior Championships the last two seasons.
Odonchumeg Badrakh of Mongolia placed 10th at the Olympic Games and was third in the 2007 Asian Championships. Another Olympic athlete, seventh-place Elina Vaseva of Bulgaria is still competitive.
Placewinners from the 2008 World championships to watch include Olesja Zamula of Azerbaijan, Hanna Belyaeva of Belarus, Justine Bouchard of Canada, Olga Butkevich of Great Britain and Irina Netreba of Ukraine.RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS2008 Olympics
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Alena Kartashova (Russia); Bronze - Yelena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Randi Miller (USA); 5th - Lise Golliot-LeGrand (France); 5th - Martine Dugrenier (Canada); 7th - Elina Vaseva (Bulgaria); 8th - Monika Mihalik (Poland); 9th - Xu Haiyan (China); 10th - Odonchumeg Badrakh (Mongolia) 2008 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Mio Nishimaki (Japan); Silver - Lubov Volosova (Russia); Bronze - Audrey Prieto Bokhashvilla (France); Bronze - Lili Meng (China); 5th - Olesja Zamula (Azerbaijan); 5th - Hanna Belyaeva (Belarus); 7th - Justine Bouchard (Canada); 8th - Olga Butkevich (Great Britain); 9th - Irina Netreba (Ukraine); 10th - Alaina Berube (USA)2007 World Championships results
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Elena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Sara McMann (United States); Bronze - Monkia Michalik - Rogien (Poland); 5th - Lise Golliot - Legrand (France); 5th - Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 7th - Olesja Zamula (Azerbaijan); 8th - Haiyan Xu (China); 9th - Nikola Hartmann-Duenser (Austria); 10th - Badrakh Odonchimeg (Mongolia)2006 World Championships results
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Xu Hai Yan (China); Bronze - Monika Rogien (Poland); Bronze - Helena Allandi (Sweden); 5th - Yoselin Rojas (Venezuela); 5th - Lyubov Volosov (Russia); 7th - Karine Shadoyan (Armenia); 8th - Agoro Papavassiliou (Greece); 9th - Mihaela Sadoveanu (Romania); 10th - Volha Khilko (Belarus)2005 World Championships results
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Rui Xue Jing (China); Bronze - Sara McMann (USA); Bronze - Olga Khilko (Ukraine); 5th - Anna Polovneva (Russia); 5th - Katarzyna Juszezak (Italy); 7th - Michaela Krizkova (Czech Republic); 8th - Tara Hedican (Canada); 9th - Monika Szerencse (Hungary); 10th - Helena Allandi (Sweden)