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2007 World Championships preview at 59 kg/130 lbs. in women’s freestyle wrestling

Ayako Shoda of Japan has won the World gold medal at this weight class for the last two years, and has three total World titles, with her first back in 2000. She has not been very active this year, as Japan entered Kai Yamana at both the World Cup and the Asian Championships at this division. She has won a gold medal in almost every major international event she has entered, except for two times at the Junior World Championships many years ago. Japan lists Shoda as its entry again in Baku, and she will be a heavy favorite to retain the title.

Placing second behind Shoda last year at the World Championships is Su Liu Hui of China, who has since dropped down to 55 kg for the 2006 Asian Games and 2007 Asian Championships. However, Su is on the Chinese roster back up at 59 kg for this year, and will be seeking another chance to make the finals this year. China has much talent at this weight, with Yang Sen-Lian winning the Asian Championships this year and Li Song Ni winning the Junior World title.

The 2006 World bronze medalists were Nataliya Sinishin of Ukraine and Alka Tomar of India. Sinishin has established herself as a true medal contender, following her World performance last year by winning a silver medal at the European Championships this past spring down at 55 kg. Tomar has been busy, winning bronze medals at the 2006 Asian Games and the 2007 Commonwealth Championships, but missing the medals at the 2007 Asian Championships.

One of the top challengers will be Marianna Sastin of Hungary, who was a 2005 World bronze medalist and placed fifth at the 2006 World Championships. Sastin was second at the European Championships this year, losing to Ida Theres Karlsson of Sweden in the finals. Karlsson is listed as dropping to 55 kg for the World meet this year.

A talented young athlete in the field is Anna Zwirydowska of Poland, who was third at the European Championships this year and won a Junior World bronze medal in 2006.

Russia lists Larissa Kanaeva as its first choice to compete at this division. Kanaeva was fifth at the 2007 Junior World Championships and was a 2006 Junior World champion. She also competed for Russia at the 2007 World Cup. Russia's entry at the 2007 European Championships was Galina Legenkina, who won a bronze medal there.

The United States will have a new entry at this division, Leigh Jaynes, who defeated 2006 World team member Erin Tomeo in the World Team Trials, then won a Special Wrestle-off over veteran Alaina Berube to secure her position. Last year, Tomeo was seventh in the World, and Jaynes seeks to move up into the medal rounds on her first trip to the World Championships. She already has a few World medals at home, after winning bronzes at the first Beach and Sombo World meets in 2006.

A top challenger if she attends this year is 2005 World bronze medalist Lene Aanes of Norway. Aanes has not competed since claiming that medal. Aanes has won six career World medals, including two silver medals and four bronze medals. Her first World medal came back in 1995.

Ludmilla Cristea of Moldova placed fifth at the World Championships last year. Other placewinners at the World meet in China last year were Stefanie Stuber of Germany, Jackeline Renteria of Colombia and Gudrun Hoie of Norway. Hoie won four World titles, but her last World gold came back in 1998. Renteria won the 2007 Pan Am Games down at 55 kg.

Norj Narmandakh of Mongolia was a 2007 Asian Championships silver medalist. The 2007 African champion was Oyeins Tangi of Nigeria. Canada, always a world power in women's wrestling, sends a new athlete this year to the World meet, Brittany Laverdure, who had considerable experience competing down at 55 kg.

Other athletes with recent success include Audrey Prieto of France , Yuliya Ratkevich of Belarus, Lee So Na of Korea and Olga Komarova and Yulia Ostapchuk of Ukraine.

Once again, Japan has a multiple World champion in the lineup at this weight class, Ayako Shoda. Beating Shoda is the mission of the rest of the field. It will be interesting to see how many of the athletes who competed at this division in the past change weight classes, either down to 55 kg or up to 63 kg, which are Olympic weights. If a number of the top challengers change to an Olympic division, this will open the door for other athletes to possibly break through for medals in Baku.


2006 World Championships results
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Ayako Shoda (Japan); Silver - Su Liu Hui (China); Bronze - Alka Tomar (India); Bronze - Nataliya Sinishin (Ukraine); 5th - Ludmila Cristea (Moldova); 5th - Marianna Sastin (Hungary); 7th - Erin Tomeo (United States); 8th - Stefanie Stuber (Germany); 9th - Jackeline Renteria (Colombia); 10th - Gudrun Hoie (Norway)

2005 World Championships results
59 kg/130 lbs. - Gold - Ayako Shoda (Japan); Silver - Marianna Sastin (Hungary); Bronze - Sally Roberts (USA); Bronze - Lene Aanes (Norway); 5th - Anna Zwirydowska (Poland); 5th - Ida Theres-Karlsson (Sweden); 7th - Yuliya Ratkevich (Belarus); 8th - Michelle Richardson (Canada); 9th - Olena Komarova (Ukraine); 10th - Alka Tomar Singh (India)

2004 - Olympic Year - No World Championships at this non-Olympic weight

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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