WORLD CHAMPION! American Elena Pirozhkova strikes gold at Women's World Championships
Elena Pirozhkova stands atop the podium after winning a World title on Saturday.
SHERWOOD PARK, Canada – American Elena Pirozhkova was not going to be denied.
Forced to a third period by 2011 Junior World champion Taybe Yusein of Bulgaria, Pirozhkova delivered with a clutch takedown to capture a gold medal at the FILA Women’s World Championships.
Pirozhkova, second in the 2010 Worlds, won the first period 2-1 before Yusein stormed back to win the second period 5-2 on Saturday night at Millennium Place.
Pirozhkova then countered a leg attack and spun behind Yusein for the eventual winning takedown with just under a minute left in the decisive third period at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. Pirozhkova won the third period 1-0 to earn her first World title.
"I came in here really focused," Pirozhkova said. "I really got after it and wrestled aggressively. I scrapped and I fought and I got it done. This was my chance to win a World title and I had to make sure I got it."
The 25-year-old Pirozhkova (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) came back strong in this event after she dropped her first match at the 2012 Olympics.
"It's been a long time coming for Elena," U.S. Coach Terry Steiner said. "She has bought into this program wholeheartedly. She put it all together today. She went out to get that gold medal and she really came through for us."
Pirozhkova wins a World title two days after teammate Adeline Gray captured a World title in Canada. This marks just the second time the U.S. has crowned multiple women's gold medalists at a World Championships. The U.S. also crowned two champions in 1999 when Americans Tricia Saunders and Sandra Bacher won titles.
Pirozhkova becomes the seventh U.S. wrestler to win a World title in women’s freestyle. The U.S. now has 11 World individual titles overall in women’s freestyle.
The U.S. finished with four medals in this tournament, the most in a World Championships for an American team since it won four medals at the 2005 Worlds.
American Helen Maroulis captured a silver medal on Friday night while teammate Alyssa Lampe won a World bronze medal on Thursday.
The three U.S. finalists are the most at a World Championships for an American team since it placed five wrestlers in the finals at the 2003 Worlds in New York City.
China won the team title with 54 points. Japan was second with 43 points and the U.S. was third with 40.
2008 World champion Clarissa Chun (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) fell one win short of the medal round at 48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Amanzhol-Bakatyuk rallied to beat Chun 2-3, 1-1, 3-1 in the repechage wrestlebacks. Chun led 1-0 late in the second period before her opponent rallied to win the period.
Chun dropped her first bout to Vanessa Kaladzynskaya of Belarus, who shot in for a double-leg takedown late in the third period to pull out a 5-4, 1-6, 4-3 win.
Chun received a chance to wrestle back when Kaladzynskaya advanced to the finals. Kaladzynskaya, 19, who placed eighth in the 2012 Olympics, went on to win a World title on Saturday.
Chun won an Olympic bronze medal last month in London.
FILA WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Sherwood Park, Canada
48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Gold – Vanessa Kaladzynskaya (Belarus)
Silver – Eri Tosaka (Japan)
Bronze – Xiaomei Li (China)
Bronze – Jaqueline Schellin (Germany)
5th – Tatyana Amanzhol-Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan)
5th – Patimat Bagomedova (Azerbaijan)
7th – Estera Dobre (Romania)
8th – Anna Lukasik (Poland)
9th – Clarissa Chun (USA)
10th – Davaasuren Bayarmagnai (Mongolia)
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)
48 kg/105.5 lbs.
Vanessa Kaladzynskaya (Belarus) dec. Eri Tosaka (Japan), 0-2, 1-0, 2-2
63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Elena Pirozhkova (USA) dec. Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria), 2-1, 2-5, 1-0
48 kg/105.5 lbs. – Clarissa Chun, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) – 9th
LOSS Vanessa Kaladzynskaya (Belarus), 4-5, 6-1, 3-4
LOSS Tatyana Amanzhol-Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan), 3-2, 1-1, 1-3
63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC) – GOLD MEDAL
WIN Min-Wen Hou (Chinese Taipei), fall 0:33
WIN Kayoko Kudo (Japan), 2-0, fall 0:50
WIN Luozhuoma Xi (China), 1-0, 4-0
WIN Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria), 2-1, 2-5, 1-0