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|2009 World Championships preview at 51 kg/112.25 lbs. in women’s freestyle wrestling|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
The superstar in this division has retired, as Japan's Hitomi Sakamoto had a triumphant departure by winning the 2008 World title in Tokyo in front of her home fans. She finished up with five World titles, including the last four at this division. Somebody new will take over this weight in Herning this year. Japan has listed Yuri Kai as its entry. Kai was a 2007 World Cup champion for Japan and placed second at the FILA Golden Grand Prix finals this year.
Of all the weight classes in the women's field, this one may be the most wide open. The World silver medalist in 2008 was Maryna Markevich of Belarus and the World bronze medalists were Vanessa Boubyemm of France and Yulia Blahinya of Ukraine. None of these athletes are on the preliminary entry list, although neither Belarus or France have an entry listed.
Blahinya was third at the 2009 European Championships and the 2009 Golden Grand Prix finals. According to the roster, Ukraine will be sending Oleksandra Kohut, who was second in pre-World tuneup Poland Open this season and placed fifth at both the 2005 and 2006 World Championships. Kohut is a former Junior World champion.
The 2009 European Champion was Ekatarina Krasnova of Russia, one of three entries in Russia's preliminary list. Also possibilities are veteran Natalia Smirnova and Marina Vilmova, who was fifth at the 2008 World Championships.
Emese Szabo of Hungary was the European silver medalist this year, and the other bronze medals went to Francine DePaula of Italy. Szabo is on the preliminary entry list. Also expected to compete is Jessica Bondy of Canada, who was fifth at the 2008 World Championships and was third at the Poland Open.
Tatyana Bakatyuk of Kazakhstan won the Asian Championships and the FILA Golden Grand Prix this year, and was fifth in the World Championships in 2007. Another athlete having a good season is Sweden's Sofia Mattsson, who won the 2009 Poland Open and was third at the Golden Grand Prix finals.
The U.S. entry is Jessica Medina, who defeated Olympic silver medalist and three-time World medalist Patricia Miranda to make the American team. Medina has competed on the World level at the age-group level in the past, and may surprise some athletes who have not faced her before.
Babita Kumari of India was second at the 2007 Junior World Championships and ninth at the 2007 Senior World Championships China's entry is Di Hong, who is untested by is expected to be talented. Others to watch include Alexandra Englehardt of Germany, Natalia Budu of Moldova, Dilek Atakol of Turkey and Davaasukh Otgonsetseg of Mongolia.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2008 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold - Hitomi Sakamoto (Japan); Silver - Maryna Markevich (Belarus); Bronze - Vanessa Boubryemm (France); Bronze - Yuliya Blahinya (Ukraine); 5th - Jessica Bondy (Canada); 5th - Marina Vilmova (Russia); 7th - Natalia Budu (Moldova); 8th - Helen Maroulis (USA); 9th - Aguis Rivas (Venezuela); 10th - Dilek Atakol (Turkey)
2007 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold - Hitomi Sakamoto (Japan); Silver - Xuecheng Ren (China); Bronze - Erica Sharp (Canada); Bronze - Anne Catherine Deluntsch (France); 5th - Alexandra Engelhardt (Germany); 5th - Tatyana Bakatyuk (Kazakhstan); 7th - Zamira Rakhmanova (Russia); 8th - Aleksandra Kohut (Ukraine); 9th - Babita Kumari (India); 10th - Georgiana-Mihaela Radoi (Romania)
2006 World Championships
51 kg./112.25 lbs. - Gold - Hitomi Sakamoto (Japan); Silver - Lindsay Belisle (Canada); Bronze - Patricia Miranda (United States); Bronze - Alena Adashinskaya (Russia); 5th - Okeksandra Kohut (Ukraine); 5th - Brigitte Wagner (Germany); 7th - Park Yeon Jim (Korea); 8th - Dina Mirzaeva (Uzbekistan); 9th - Liao Dong Hua (China); 10th - Maria del Mar Serrano (Spain)
2005 World Championships
51 kg/112.25 lbs. - Gold - Hitomi Sakamoto (Japan); Silver - Vanessa Boubryemm (France); Bronze - Tsogtbaz Enkhjargal (Mongolia); Bronze - Juling Wen (China); 5th - Aleksandra Kohut (Ukraine); 5th - Erica Sharp (Canada); 7th - Stephanie Murata (USA); 8th - Dinara Mirzaeva (Uzbekistan); 9th - Natalya Smirnova (Russia); 10th - Nurzat Shaylobaeva (Kyrgyzstan)