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2005 World Championships preview at 59 kg/130 lbs. in women’s freestyle wrestling

Gary Abbott USA Wrestling

This is a non-Olympic weight class, which did not get an international final exam last year. Most of the athletes from this division went either down to 55 kg or up to 63 kg last season, in an attempt to win an Olympic medal or a berth in the Olympic Games. Exactly what the field will look like this year is really a big question mark, as there is no guarantee that the athletes who were among the best in 2003 will even be competing in 2005.

The last World Champion in the division was Japan's star Seiko Yamamoto in 2003, who won four World titles during her career but has not been wrestling recently. Japan has been represented by a few athletes this season, with Ayoki Shoda winning the World Cup and the World University Games, Kei Yamana winning the Junior World Championships, and Hatsumi Nakanishi placing seventh at the Asian Championships. These newcomers will have to prove themselves, but will be expected to do well as members of the world's strongest women's wrestling team.

The silver medal at the 2003 World Championships in New York went to Russia's Natalya Ivashko, and the bronze was won by American Sally Roberts. It is certain that of these athletes, Roberts will be there, after claiming the U.S. World Team Trials by beating 2004 Olympian Tela O'Donnell in the finals. Roberts has wrestled well under the new rules, and has high hopes for the gold medal this time around.

Victoria Zagainova competed for Russia at the European Championships this year and placed fifth and also was the team member at the Women's World Cup. The first World champion at this new weight division was 2002 gold medalist Alena Cartashova of Russia, one of the athletes who changed weight last year seeking Olympic glory. Cartashova would be a medal favorite if she wrestles for Russia in Budapest.

Claiming the European title this year was Sweden's Ida-Theres Karlsson, who moved up from 55 kg where she is a past World medalist. Sweden had a strong entry here in the past, with Lotta Anderson placing second at the 2002 World Championships. Helena Allandi has also competed at major events for Sweden at this division.

Audrey Prieto of France has established herself as a strong contender, winning the silver medal at the European Championships and competing well at the World Cup event. Yulia Ratkevich of Belarus has also become a strong challenger, winning the Junior World silver medal and a bronze medal at the European Championships. The other European bronze medalist this year was veteran Diletta Giampiccolo of Italy, who dropped down to 55 kg last year for the Olympics, but has a strong history of success up at this division in the past.

Canada could be represented by two-time World placewinner Emily Richardson, who has the experience to be a medal hopeful. Canada's Breanne Graham was one of the bronze medalists at the World University Games.

The Asian champion this year was Hee-Young Kim of Korea. Alka Tomar of India placed second, and the bronze medalists were Xin-Ling Moa of China and Dorj Narmandakh of Mongolia. Jaqueline Renteria of Colombia won the Pan American Championships beating Ana Gonzalez of Venezuela in the finals.

Host Hungary should have a strong entry, especially if Marianna Sastin enters. Sastin was fourth at the 2003 World Championships and seventh at the European Championships this year. Placing fifth at the 2003 World Championships was Oksana Shalikova of Ukraine, who was also second at the 2005 World Cup.

The rest of this field could be a mix of newcomers, and some athletes with previous experience. Wrestlers to watch include Desislava Lyubenova of Bulgaria, Natalia Ivanova of Tajikistan, Justyna Barziak of Poland, Myriam Selloum of France and many others.

If you wanted to pick one weight class, in both the men and women's tournaments, that might be considered wide open and unpredictable, it would be the 59 kg division in women's wrestling. All bets are off here, and it would not be surprising if a new young athlete jumped into this field and won the whole thing. The U.S. has high hopes with Sally Roberts, but there are many athletes like Roberts with the ability to win it all this year.


2003 World Championships results
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Seiko Yamamoto (Japan) dec. Natalia Ivashko (Russia), 4-0; Bronze - Sally Roberts (United States) pin Marianna Sastin (Hungary), 5:36; 5th - Oksana Shalikova (Ukraine); 6th - Seba Jimenez Valderrama (Spain); 7th - Emily Richardson (Canada); 8th - Natalia Ivanova (Tajikistan); 9th - Stefanie Stueber (Germany); 10th - Helena Allandi (Sweden)

2002 World Championships results
59 kg/130 lbs. - 1st - Alena Cartashova (Russia) dec. Lotta Andersson (Sweden), 4-0, ot, 7:07; 3rd - Mabel Fonseca (Puerto Rico) dec. Sandrine Seve (France), 3-1, ot, 7:21; 5th - Christina Oertli (Germany); 6th - Ramirez Mendoza (Mexico); 7th - Rena Iwama (Japan); 8th - Emily Richardson (Canada); 9th - Agoro Papavassiliou (Greece); 10th - Oxana Shalikova (Ukraine)
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