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Olympic Games preview at 68 kg in women’s freestyle: No. 1 seed and 2019 World champ Mensah Stock to face tough field

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Tamyra Mensah Stock in the 2019 Final X.

Draw: August 1
Dates of competition: Monday, August 2 and Tuesday, August 3

U.S. representative: Tamyra Mensah Stock (Colorado Springs, Colo./Titan Mercury WC/USOPTC)

Coming into the Tokyo Olympics, 2019 World champion and 2018 World bronze medalist Tamyra Mensah Stock comes in with great momentum and confidence. Mensah Stock has earned the No. 1 seed for the Olympics. In 2021, after the pandemic shutdown, Mensah Stock has won all of her international events, with titles at the Pan American Championships, the Matteo Pellicone in Italy and the Henri Deglane in France. She has an explosive offense, excellent position and will be considered the favorite to win the gold medal.

Mensah Stock knows that she must be at her best because of the quality of her opponents. The two other Senior World champions from the past Olympic quad are in the field, 2018 World champion Alla Cherkosova of Ukraine and 2017 World champion Sara Dosho of Japan, plus a two-time World champion in Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia. None of these other past World champions have earned a seed for the Olympics, so they could meet anybody at any time based upon the blind draw.

Cherkasova has won two World medals, a 2010 World bronze to go with her 2018 World gold. She placed fifth at the 2019 World Championships which qualified the weight for Tokyo for Ukraine. A 2019 European champion, Cherkasova has mixed results in 2021, falling short of a medal in international events in Poland and Ukraine. A 2008 Junior World bronze medalist and 2016 Olympian, she has the experience to make an impact.

Dosho won the 2016 Olympic gold medal in Rio, then followed up with her 2017 World title in Paris. She won a medal every year of the 2013-2016 quad, with a silver at the 2014 Worlds and bronze medals at the 2013 and 2015 Worlds. Dosho qualified Japan for the Tokyo Olympics with a fifth place at the 2019 Worlds. She did not compete in an international tournament in either 2020 or 2021.

Soronzonbold won a World bronze medal in 2019 to punch her ticket for Tokyo. She won her World gold medals in 2010 and 2015 and also boasts a 2013 World silver medal and a 2012 Olympic bronze medal. Soronzonbold was unable to medal in the two Ranking Tournaments she entered in 2021, the Poland Open and the Matteo Pellicone in Italy. She has been wrestling at the Senior level since 2009, 12 years of high-level experience.

So, who did earn seeds besides Mensah Stock? Coming in with the No. 2 seed is tough Nigerian star Blessing Oborududu, who qualified for Tokyo through the African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier. Now a three-time Olympian, she has won 10 African Championships gold medals and a Commonwealth Games title. She is coming off a silver medal at the 2021 Poland Open. Oborududu seems to give everyone a tough match.

Taking the No. 3 seed is talented Koumba Larroque of France, who earned her Olympic berth with a win at the 2021 European Olympic Qualifier. She seems to have been around a long time, although she is only 23 years old. Larroque won a 2018 World silver medal and 2017 World bronze medal. She had a wildly successful age-group career, winning a World gold every year from 2015-2018. (Cadet in 2015, Junior in 2016, U23 in 2017 and Junior in 2018).

The No. 4 seed goes to 2019 World bronze medalist Anna Schell of Germany, who scored a win over Dosho in the bronze-medal bout there. One of Schell’s top performances was a silver medal at the 2019 European Championships.

A tough veteran in the draw is two-time World medalist Feng Zhou of China, who also competed in the 2012 Olympic Games. Zhou was second at the 2015 Senior Worlds and third at the 2018 Senior Worlds. She earned her spot in Tokyo with a victory in the 2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier.

2018 World silver medalist Danielle Lappage of Canada is another tough challenger. Lappage was injured in the 2016 Olympic Games and unable to continue, and will be looking to make a run at the 2020 Olympics. She boasts a 2010 Junior World title. Her ticket to Tokyo came with a win at the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier.

A late addition to the field was 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus of Poland who is 38 years old and has the longest resume in the field. This will be her third Olympic Games. Wiesczczek-Kordus was eighth at the 2019 World Championships, and at this point of her career, has to be considered a longshot.

Elis Manolova of Azerbaijan won a 2019 World bronze medal at 65 kg, a non-Olympic weight. She didn’t get into the Olympic field until the last qualifier, taking a silver at the World Olympic Games Qualifier. Manolova was a 2019 European champion at 65 kg and claimed a U23 World silver medal in 2018.

2018 U23 World champion and 2017 Junior World silver medalist Yudaris Sanchez Rodriguez of Cuba. A 2018 Pan American champion, Sanchez was second at the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier to earn her trip to the Olympics.

Khanum Velieva of Russia, a rising 22-year-old star, was a 2020 European champion and earned her spot at the Olympics by getting a silver medal the 2021 European Olympic Qualifier. She has a great age-group pedigree, with 2014 and 2016 Cadet World titles, plus 2017 and 2018 Junior World titles.

Enas Ahmed made a great run at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by placing fifth, then disappeared from international wrestling until her return in 2021, taking second at the African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier. She has also won a 2014 Military World silver medal.

2017 and 2019 Junior World silver medalist Meerim Zhumanazarova of Kyrgyzstan joined the Olympic field with a silver medal at the 2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier. Mimi Hristova of Bulgaria won the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Bulgaria. She was also a 2016 Olympian, and has won silver medals at the 2019 European Games and the 2018 European Championships.

68 kg/149.75 lbs.women's freestyle

NO. 1 SEED - 2019 World champion – United States (Tamyra Mensah Stock)

NO. 2 SEED - 2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier champion –Nigeria (Blessing Oborududu)

NO. 3 SEED - 2021 European Olympic Qualifier champion – France (Koumba Larroque)

NO. 4 SEED - 2019 World bronze medalist – Germany (Anna Carmen Schell)

2019 World bronze medalist – Mongolia (Battsetseg Soronzonbold)

2019 World fifth place – Ukraine (Alla Cherkasova)

2019 World fifth place – Japan (Sara Dosho)

2019 World eighth place – Poland (Agnieszka Wieczczek-Kordus)

2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier champion – Canada (Danielle Lappage)

2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Cuba (Yudari Sanchez Rodriguez)

2021 European Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Russia (Khanum Velieva)

2021 African/Oceania Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Egypt (Enas Ahmed)

2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier champion – China (Feng Zhou)

2021 Asian Olympic Qualifier runner-up – Kyrgyzstan (Meerim Zhumanazarova)

2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier champion – Bulgaria (Mimi Hristova)

2021 World Olympic Games Qualifier runner-up – Azerbaijan (Elis Manolova)


2019 World Championships

68 kg/149.75 lbs. – Gold - Tamyra Mensah-Stock (USA); Silver - Anna Jenny Fransson (Sweden); Bronze - Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); Bronze - Anna Carmen Schell (Germany); 5th - Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine); 5th - Sara Dosho (Japan); 7th - Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria) ; 8th - Agnieszka Wieszcek (Poland); 9th - Danielle Lappage (Canada); 10th - Koumba Larroque (France)

2018 World Championships

68 kg/149.75 lbs. - Gold - Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine); Silver - Koumba Larroque (France); Bronze - Feng Zhou (China); Bronze - Tamyra Mensah-Stock (USA); 5th - Maria Mamashuk (Belarus); 5th - Olivia Di Bacco (Canada); 7th - Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia); 8th - Kaur Navjot (India); 9th - Dalma Caneva (Italy); 10th - Viktoria Bobeva (Bulgaria)

2017 World Championships

69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold - Sara Dosho (Japan); Silver - Aline Focken (Germany); Bronze – Koumba Larroque (France) ; Bronze – Yue Han (China) ; 5th - Martina Kuenz (Austria); 5th - Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); 7th - Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 8th - Maryia Mamashuk (Belarus); 9th - Tamyra Mensah (USA); 10th - Anastasia Bratchikova (Russia)

2016 Olympic Games

69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Sara Dosho (Japan); Silver – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Bronze – Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); Bronze – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Enas Ahmed (Egypt); 5th – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); 7th – Buse Tosun (Turkey); 8th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 9th – Aline Focken (Germany); 10th – Gilda Maria De Oliveira (Brazil)

2015 World Championships

69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Silver – Feng Zhou (China); Bronze – Sara Dosho (Japan)

Bronze – Aline Focken (Germany); 5th – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 7th – Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan); 8th – Enas Moustafa (Egypt); 9th – Martina Kuenz (Austria); 10th – Elena Pirozkhova (USA)

2014 World Championships

69 kg/152 lbs. - Gold – Aline Focken (Germany); Silver – Sara Dosho (Japan); Bronze – Natalia Vorobieva (Russia); Bronze – Laura Skujina (Latvia); 5th – Jenny Fransson (Sweden); 5th – Diana Gonzalez (Mexico); 7th – Alina Makhunia (Ukraine); 8th – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); 9th – Leidy Izquierdo (Colombia); 10th – Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus (Poland)

2013 World Championships

67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Alina Stadnik-Makhynia (Ukraine); Silver – Stacie Anaka (Canada); Bronze – Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia); Bronze – Sara Dosho (Japan); 5th – Zhanting Zhou (China); 5th – Aline Focken (Germany); 7th – Laura Skujina (Latvia); 8th – Leidy Izquierdo Mendez (Colombia); 9th – Gozal Zutova (Azerbaijan); 10th – Veronica Carlson (USA)

2012 World Championships

67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold – Adeline Gray (USA); Silver – Dorothy Yeats (Canada); Bronze – Yan Hong (China); Bronze – Yoshiko Inoue (Japan); 5th - Alina Stadnik-Makhynia (Ukraine); 5th - Kaur Navjot (India); 7th - Darya Khamdiyeva (Kazakhstan); 8th - Nadya Sementsova (Azerbaijan); 9th - Irina Bogdanova (Russia); 10th - Ilana Kratysh (Israel)