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

Jason Bryant USA Wrestling

Date of Competition: August 9, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a weight class that wasn’t dominated by the Japanese. That time is now and that weight class, 72 kg/158.5 pounds is dominated by a Bulgarian.

Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria’s been the force in women’s wrestling the last seven years. Since 2006, Zlateva has won five world championships, an Olympic silver medal and another world bronze medal just for good measure.

But Zlateva’s dominance isn’t without a few setbacks. In 2008, Zlateva was a favorite to win the Olympic gold, but fell to China’s Jiao Wang. Zlateva recovered to win the 2008 Worlds in Tokyo. In 2009, she was upset early and finished with a bronze. In her six World and Olympic finals bouts, she’s faced six different opponents, a testament to the balance the weight possesses below Zlateva.

Russian Ekaterina Bukina was the silver medalist at the 2011 World Championships and should be the country’s entry. Wang, who didn’t medal at last year’s worlds, is still a big threat, as are previous finalists Burmaa Ochirbat of Mongolia, and Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan.

Hamaguchi is on the backside of her career, but she did pick up a bronze at the 2010 World Championships after reeling off five previous world championships and two Olympic medals. At 34, this is probably her last shot at Olympic gold.

American Ali Bernard finished third at the 2011 World Championships and beat three world medalists in the tournament, including Wang and Jenny Fransson of Sweden. Bernard, a late replacement for U.S. Olympic Trials champion Stephany Lee, could be a real threat. Even while getting behind in bouts, Bernard’s shown the ability to fight back and break opponents.

Nine medalists since the 2004 Olympic Games are expected to compete, making the field solid from top to bottom.

Gouzel Manyurova of Kazakhkstan was a previous world silver medalist while representing Russia.

Ochirbat, Vasilisa Marzaliuk of Belarus and Spain’s Madier Unda Gonzales are previous medalists looking for a shot at their first gold medal at the World or Olympic level. Canadian Leah Callahan beat out 2010 world silver medalist Ohenewa Akuffo to make the Olympic team and she, too, is a threat. Cameroon’s Laure Ali Annabel was fifth at the 2011 world championships and is her country’s flag bearer for the London Games.

Expected Participants
72 kg/158.5 lbs.- Women's Freestyle

1st at 2011 World Championships – Stanka Zlateva Hristova (Bulgaria)
2nd at 2011 World Championships – Ekaterina Bukina (Russia)
3rd at 2011 World Championships – Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus)
3rd at 2011 World Championships – Ali Bernard (United States)
5th at 2011 World Championships – Laure Ali Annabel (Cameroon)
5th at 2011 World Championships – Gouzel Manyurova (Kazakhstan)
2012 European Olympic qualifier champion – Jenny Fransson (Sweden)
2012 European Olympic qualifier runner-up – Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine)
2012 Asian Olympic qualifier champion – Jiao Wang (China)
2012 Asian Olympic qualifier runner-up – Kyoko Hamaguchi (Japan)
2012 Pan American Olympic qualifier champion – Leah Callahan (Canada)
2012 Pan American Olympic qualifier runner-up –Ana Talia Betancourt (Colombia)
2012 Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier champion – Amarachi Obiajunwa (Nigeria)
2012 Africa/Oceania Olympic qualifier runner-up – Josiane Soloniaina (Madagascar)
Olympic Qualifier #1 champion – Burmaa Ochirbat (Mongola)
Olympic Qualifier #1 runner-up – Svetlana Saenco (Moldova)
Olympic Qualifier #2 champion – Madier Unda Gonzales (Spain)
Olympic Qualifier #2 runner-up – Cynthia Vescan (France)

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)
Untitled Document
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