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

Jason Bryant USA Wrestling

It’s common knowledge, but it bears repeating.

Japan is really good in women’s freestyle wrestling. Really good.

The country’s dominance has centered around many great athletes, but for the last decade, Japanese wrestling and the world has been essentially owned by Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida.

Icho looks to join Yoshida in becoming the first three-time women’s Olympic wrestling champions in history. Standing in her way, scores of oft-beaten opponents looking for revenge and a chance to prevent history from happening on their watch.

Like Yoshida, Icho’s won every World or Olympic championship since 2002, but Yoshida’s got one more title, the 2008 World Championship held after the Olympics. Japan still won that spot, but it wasn’t Icho.

American Elena Pirozhkova finished second at the 2010 World Championships to Icho and feels she’s closed the gap on her Japanese nemesis. The two met in the semifinals of the 2011 Worlds as well.

Pirozhkova makes her first Olympic team after being born in Russia and growing up in Massachusetts. She bested World bronze medalist Adeline Gray to make the U.S. team and has a wealth of international experience.

For Pirozhkova to be a threat at the gold, she’ll have to wrestle consistently throughout and not get behind early.

Over half of the field of expected participants has a world medal in hand, including last year’s silver medalist, Marianna Sastin of Hungary. Sastin was a bronze medalist in 2009 and competed at the 2008 Olympics. She moved up from 59 kg in 2007 and has met with modest international success since.

China is also a question mark in regards two who they will send to London. Rui Xue Jing finished with a bronze in 2011, but won the World Championship in 2007 up at 67 kg. One thing China has is depth, again, not surprisingly. Since 2004, the Chinese have wrestled eight different women at the World Championships or Olympics at the weight class, with three of them winning medals.

Russian Lyubov Volossova was the 2009 World silver medalist, but had to qualify through the European championships. Volossova has four senior-level world medals and is a threat.

Canada’s Martine Dugrenier makes her second Olympic appearance. She fell to American Randi Miller in the bronze medal match in 2008. Dugrenier has six world medals, three gold and three silver. All her medals have come at 67kg, however.

Henna Johansson of Sweden is also a previous world medalist, taking bronze at the weight in 2010 in Moscow. Poland’s Monika Michalik finished third in the World back in 2006.

While not yet a World medalist, Cuban Katherine Vidiaux Lopez has shown flashes of brilliance. If her technique has improved and she’s able to maintain leads instead of lose them late, she easily has the ability to reach the medal stand.

Expected Participants
63 kg/138.75 lbs.- Women's Freestyle
1st at 2011 World Championships – Kaori Icho (Japan)
2nd at 2011 World Championships –Marianna Sastin (Hungary)
3rd at 2011 World Championships – Rui Xue Jing (China)
3rd at 2011 World Championships – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia)
5th at 2011 World Championships – Elena Pirozhkova (United States)
5th at 2011 World Championships – Ran-Mi Kim (North Korea)
2012 European Olympic qualifier champion – Yulia Ostapchuk (Ukraine)
2012 European Olympic qualifier runner-up – Lyubov Volossova (Russia)
2012 Asian Olympic qualifier champion – Elena Shalygina (Kazakhstan)
2012 Asian Olympic qualifier runner-up – Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan)
2012 Pan American Olympic qualifier champion – Martine Dugrenier (Canada)
2012 Pan American Olympic qualifier runner-up – Katherine Vidiaux Lopez (Cuba)
2012 Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier champion – Jacira Francisco Mendonca (Guinea-Bissau)
2012 Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier runner-up – Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria)
Olympic Qualifier #1 champion – Hanna Johansson (Sweden)
Olympic Qualifier #1 runner-up – Elif Jale Yesilirmak (Turkey)
Olympic Qualifier #2 champion – Monika Michalik (Poland)
Olympic Qualifier #2 runner-up – Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia)

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)
Untitled Document
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