World Championships preview in women’s freestyle wrestling at 72 kg/158.5 lbs.

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

Date of competition: Friday, September 20

Among the big stars of women’s wrestling worldwide is 2012 Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia, who won the gold medal at the London Games with an inspiring and emotional victory in the finals. Although she didn’t choose to compete in the World Championships just a few weeks later, Vorobieva has continued to wrestling and to win, claiming the European Championships and adding international titles in events held in Sweden, Russia, Spain and Greece. It’s fair to say that she is a favorite heading into Budapest.

2012 Olympic silver medalist Stanka Zlateva, the dominant force at this weight class for years, has not competed at a major event since the Olympic Games. Zlateva won five World titles, two Olympic silver medals and another World bronze medal, during an amazing streak of consistency and excellence. She isn’t listed on the Bulgarian roster, with Viktoria Bobeva, who was fifth at the 2013 Junior Worlds, the preliminary entry. It seem a bit strange not having this powerful and impressive wrestler in the field this year.

The reigning World champion after her gold medal in 2012 in Canada is Jenny Fransson of Sweden. She will be in Budapest, seeking to make it two in a row. It was her first Senior World medal after a number of years, with her best previous effort being fifth in 2010. Her season this year has included titles at international events in Sweden and Italy.

This weight class will have two returning World champions, as the 2012 World champion at 67 kg is also entered here, Adeline Gray of the United States. Gray made the move up in weight this season, and is looking strong after missing part of the season. She was also a World bronze medalist in 2011.

Spain’s Maider Unda had her best performance ever when she won an Olympic bronze medal at this weight in London. She was fifth at the 2008 Olympic Games and won a bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships. She has continued wrestling, taking a silver medal at this year’s European Championships.

The other 2013 Olympic bronze medalist, Gouzel Manyurova of Kazakhstan, is also continuing on. She won a silver at the 2012 World Championships in Canada a few weeks after the Olympics, and recently added a silver medal at the Poland Open, a top tune-up event prior to the Worlds this year. She is a true veteran at this division, winning the first Olympic silver medal at this weight when she wrestled for Russia at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Another wrestler coming off a strong 2012 season is Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus, who was third at the 2012 World Championships and fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games. She has been busy this season, taking third at the European Championships, one of six international events where she won a medal during the year so far.

Japan brings 2013 Asian champion Hiroe Suzuki to the Worlds, who also won titles at the New York AC International and the World Cup this year. In her only previous World meet last year, she lost in her first bout.

Mongolia has some good options at this weight. Odonbhimeg Badrakh was second at the Asian Championships and third in the World Cup this year and has won medals in international meets in Poland, Mongolia and Russia. Burmaa Ochirbat, a 2009 World silver medalist, has also been winning medals at a lot of big events this year held in Spain, Mongolia, Russia and Bulgaria.

The 2013 Pan American champion is Cuba’s Lisset Hecheverria, who also won the Pan American Games in 2011. She has yet to compete at a World Championships and is on the Cuban roster, so it will be interesting to see her abilities at this level.

Claiming a bronze at the 2013 European Championships was veteran Katerina Burmistrova of Ukraine. Way back in 2002, she was a World champion at 67 kg, adding a World bronze in 2008 at that weight. This is her third year up at 72 kg. The Ukrainian preliminary roster has a different entry, Maryna Mospan, who has limited international experience.

There are some other talented veterans who may compete this year and have medal capabilities. Agnieszka Wiedzczek-Kordus of Poland, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, was fifth at the European Championships this year. Svetlana Saenko of Moldova has won medals in events in Romania, Germay, Belarus and Ukraine this season. She made her name competing for Ukraine, placing fourth in the 2004 Olympic Games, and placing 10th in the 2012 Olympics for Moldova.

Overall, this weight class has substantial talent and depth, with Olympic champion Vorobieva of Russia seeking her first World gold medal. With a pair of 2012 World champions in Jenny Fransson of Sweden and Adeline Gray of the USA also in the draw, and many past World or Olympic medalists in the mix, this could be a very competitive division in Budapest.

 1. Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); 2. Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus); 3. Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 4. Ekaterina Bukina (Russia); 5. Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 6. Maider Unda (Spain); 7. Hiroe Suzuki (Japan); 8. Adeline Gray (USA); 9. Svetlana Saenko (Moldova); 10. Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine); 11. Marina Gastl (Austria); 12. Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus (Poland); 13. Yasemin Adar (Turkey); 14. Brittany Roberts (USA); 15. Andrea Olaya Guiterrez (Colombia)


2012 Olympic Games
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Silver – Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Bronze – Gouzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Madier Unda Gonzales (Spain); 5th – Jiao Wang (China); 5th – Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus); 7th – Laure Ali Annabel (Cameroon); 8th – Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 9th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 10th – Svetlana Saenco (Moldova)

2012 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); Silver – Guzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus); Bronze – Qing Xu (China); 5th - Nataliya Palamarchuk (Azerbaijan); 5th - Yasemin Adar (Turkey); 7th - Ekatina Bukina (Russia); 8th - Maria Selmaier (Germany); 9th - Oksana Vashchuk (Ukraine); 10th - Aline Da Silva (Brazil)

2011 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 pounds - Gold - Stanka Zlateva Hristova (Bulgaria); Silver - Ekaterina Bukina (Russia); Bronze - Ali Bernard (United States); Bronze - Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus) 5th - Laure Ali Annabel (Cameroon); 5th - Gouzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan), 7th - Maja Erslanden (Norway); 8th - Epp Mae (Estonia); 9th- Cynthia Vescan (France); 10th - Aline da Silva Ferreira (Brazil)

2010 World Championships
72 kg/158 lbs. - Gold – Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); Silver – Ohenewa Akuffo (Canada); Bronze –Ekatarina Bukina (Russia); Bronze –Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Maider Unda (Spain); 7th – Dan Li (China); 8th – Stephany Lee (United States); 9th – Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 10th – Maria Muller (Germany)

2009 World Championships
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Xiaoqing Qin (China); Silver - Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); Bronze - Maider Under (Spain); Bronze - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); 5th - Marina Gastl (Austria); 5th - Svitlana Sayenko (Ukraine); 7th - Dina Ivanova (Azerbaijan); 8th - Simge Yilmaz (Turkey); 9th - Anabel Laure Ali (Cameroon); 10th - Ohenewa Akuffo (Canada)

2008 Olympic Games
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold – Jiao Wang (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
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
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)

2004 Olympic Games
72 kg/158.5 lbs. - Gold - Xu Wang (China); Silver - Gouzel Manyurova (Russia); Bronze - Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan); 4th - Svetlana Sayenko (Ukraine); 5th - Christien Nordhagen-Vierling (Canada); 6th - Anita Schaetzle (Germany); 7th- Toccara Montgomery (United States); 8th - Maria Vryoni (Greece); 9th - Marina Gastl (Austria); 10th - Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia)