World Championships preview in women’s freestyle wrestling at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

Date of competition: Thursday, September 19

There are two women wrestlers who have won three Olympic gold medals, both from the powerhouse Japanese team. The athlete who has received much of the attention is 10-time World champion and 3-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida at 55 kg/121 lbs. However, right alongside Yoshida, with an impressive record of seven World titles and three Olympic golds, has been the talented Kaori Icho.

Like Yoshida, she has won every World Championships and Olympics she has entered. She did skip three World events that Yoshida went to during their amazing run. But just like Yoshida, she is entered at the 2013 World Championships and may be looking for a run at a fourth Olympic gold this Olympic cycle.

Beating Icho is not an easy task. The last major event where she didn’t win a medal was the 2007 Asian Championships where she was eighth. She has a strong style of wrestling, with both impressive offensive skills and a world-class defense. The world continues to try to find a way to solve the puzzle and beat her.

Working on that challenge is 2012 World Champion Elena Pirozhkova of the United States, who won that title without Icho in the field. Pirozhkova did wrestle Icho in the finals of the 2010 World Championships in Moscow, where she got the silver medal and some other occasions. Pirozhkova was disappointed when she missed the medals at the 2012 Olympics, and continues in her quest to become an Olympic champion. 

The 2012 Olympic silver medalist was China’s Rui Xue Jing, who has competed in only one major event since, winning a bronze medal at the 2013 Asian Championships up at 67 kg. China’s roster lists Xi Luozhuoma, who won the 2013 Asian Championships at 63 kg, took a bronze medal at the 2012 World Championships and won a 2011 World gold medal up at 67 kg.

2012 Olympic bronze medalist Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia has continued to compete, winning golds this year at the World University Games, the World Cup and the Mongolian Open. She was a World champion in 2012 at 59 kg, and is one of the top contenders for the gold this year. 

Russia won the other 2012 Olympic medal at this weight with Lyubov Volossova, who has not competed since. Russia’s top competitor expected to compete is Inna Trazhukova, who won the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden, took bronzes at the Ivan Yarygin Memorial in Russia and the Poland Open this fall.

The 2012 World silver medalist was Yusein Taybe of Bulgaria, who has won two silver medals in events this year in Romania and Poland. 2013 World bronze medalist Justin Bouchard of Canada, who also won a World bronze in 2009, returns for another shot at a World medal. Bouchard won Pan American gold this season.

Anastasija Grigorjeva of Latvia won the European Championships and is a top contender for World gold this year. She was ninth at the 2012 Olympics and boasts gold medals at the Ivan Yarygin in Russia and the Medved in Belarus this year.

Other contenders coming out the European Championships this year are silver medalist Monika Michalik of Poland and bronze medalists Ganna Vasilenko of Ukraine and Hanna Belyaeva of Azerbaijan.

Jackeline Rentaria of Columbia won two Olympic bronze medals at 55 kg, but has moved up to 63 kg this year, where she was third in the Pan American Championships. She has won five medals at international events at her new weight this season.

This weight class traditionally has a lot of depth and talent. This pool of contenders still have not found a way to beat Kaori Icho of Japan. We can expect some tremendous competition throughout the event here, and some possible young newcomers. However, until somebody beats Icho when it counts, this weight is expected to be hers again.

1. Kaori Icho (Japan); 2. Elena Pirozhkova (USA); 3. Battsetseg Sornzobold (Mongolia); 4. Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia); 5. Jackeline Rentaria Castillo (Columbia); 6. Anastassia Huchok (Belarus); 7. Zhuoma Xiluo (China); 8. Justine Bouchard (Canada); 9. Hanna Belyaeva (Azerbaijan); 10. Henna Johansson (Sweden); 11. ElifJale Yesilirmak (Turkey); 12. Monika Michalik (Poland); 13. Inna Trazhukova (Russia); 14. Maria Lyulkova (Russia); 15. Danielle Lappage (Canada)


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)

2011 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Marianna Satsin (Hungary);  Bronze - Rui Xue Jing (China); Bronze - Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongola); 5th - Elena Pirozhkova (United States); 5th - Ran-Mi Kim (North Korea); 7th - Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine); 8th - Stephanie Maierhofer (Austiria); 9th - Audrey Prieto (France); 10th - Michaela Spoustova (Czech Republic).

2010 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold – Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver – Elena Pirozhkova (USA); Bronze – Hanna Johansson (Sweden); Bronze – Lubov Volosova (Russia); 5th – Marianna Sastin (Hungary); 5th – Katerina Lopez (Cuba); 7th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 8th – Sandra Roa (Colombia); 9th - Yvonne Englich (Germany); 10th – Simona Corbani (Italy)

2009 World Championships
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Mio Nishimaki (Japan); Silver - Lubov Volosova (Russia); Bronze - Elena Shalygina (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Justine Bouchard (Canada); 5th - Olesja Zamula (Azerbaijan); 5th - Monika Michalik (Poland); 7th - Elena Pirozkhova (USA); 8th - Elina Vaseva (Bulgaria); 9th - Martina Zyklova (Czech Republic); 10th - Yuliya Ostapchuk (Ukraine)

2008 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 
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 
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 
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)

2004 Olympic Games
63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Gold - Kaori Icho (Japan); Silver - Sara McMann (United States); Bronze - Lise Golliot-Legrand (France); 4th - Stavroula Zygouri (Greece); 5th - Viola Yanik (Canada); 6th - Olga Khilko (Belarus); 7th -Stephanie Gross (Germany); 8th- Alena Kartachova (Russia); 9th - Lili Meng (China); 10th - Sara Eriksson (Sweden)