To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


TOKYO (October 6) – A total of 145 wrestlers from 41 countries are set, as of October 6, for the women’s wrestling world championships to be held in Tokyo over the weekend. Competition in all seven weight categories for women will be held October 11-13 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

Although changes in entries are possible up to the day before competition, a brief overview shows a wide open competition for the championship titles.


48kg – Olympic bronze medal winner Mariya Stadnyk (AZE) comes in as the favorite. Olympic gold medalist Carol Huynh (CAN) has not been entered while reigning world champion and Olympic silver medalist Chiharu Icho (JPN) has been sidelined with injuries.

Japan’s Makiko Sakamoto gets her second shot at the world championships after winning a bronze medal in 2005. Clarissa Chun (USA) is the only member on a young U.S. squad with experience at the Olympics, finishing fifth in Beijing this past summer.


51kg – Five-time world champion Hitomi Sakamoto, who has dominated this non-Olympic weight the last three years, is the class of the category. Sakamoto will face the challenge of a number of Olympic entries moving up from 48kg, including 2005 world runner-up Vanessa Boubryemm (FRA), 2007 European champion Zamira Rakhmanova (RUS) and Tatyana Bakatyuk (KAZ), a fifth-place finisher in Beijing.

Former world champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist at 48kg Irina Melnik (UKR) is listed as an alternate behind junior European champion Yuliya Blahinya.


55kg – Saori Yoshida (JPN) has won the last five world championships along with two Olympic gold medals and does not look like she is ready to stop.

Three-time European champion Natalia Golts (RUS) leads the charge to unseat Yoshida along with fellow Olympics Ana Maria Pavel (ROU) and Sun Dongmei (CHN).


59kg – Ayako Shoda (JPN) won world titles here in 2005 and 2006, but made an unexpected and early exit at last year’s world meet in Baku. Mariann Sastin (HUN) was world runner-up in 2005, was fifth a year later and then moved up to 63kg to finish 16th at the Beijing Olympics. Other Olympians seeking to vie for the world title are Alena Filipova (BLR) and Ludmila Cristea (MDA), both moving up from 55kg.


63kg – Kaori Icho (JPN) has owned this weight category since 2002, winning five world titles and two Olympic gold medals. But, her withdrawal last month with a knee injury leaves the category wide open for many contenders.

Meng Lili (CHN) has won world titles at 62kg and 67kg while Audrey Prieto (FRA) was world champion at 59kg in Baku. Olga Khilko (BLR) won a world bronze medal in 2005 and was European runner-up in April.

Nikola Hartmann (AUT) is a five-time former world champion but has not won since 2000. The 33-year-old has reportedly said that this will be her farewell to competitive wrestling.


67kg – Chinese wrestlers have won this category the last three years, each time defeating Martine Dugrenier (CAN) in the final. Asia bronze medalist Zhang Fengliu (CHN) takes her shot this year with Dugrenier hoping to break through the bamboo ceiling.

Olympians Monika Michalik (POL) and Lise Legrand (FRA) have moved up from 63kg to mount a challenge for a world title along with world bronze medal winner and Euro No. 2 Natalya Kuksina (RUS).

Japanese entry Mami Shinkai (JPN) is Asia champion and pinned Dugrenier to win the world university championships in 2006.


72kg – Stanka Zlateva (BUL) will be seeking her third world title and a sense of atonement after her upset loss in the gold medal final of the Beijing Olympics. Zlateva’s biggest challenger may be five-time former world champion and local favorite Kyoko Hamaguchi (JPN), who has lost her last two meetings with Zlateva.

Three-time Pan American champ Stephany Lee (USA), also a two-time university world champion, will be making her debut at the senior world meet and will be seeking to reclaim the title won by Iris Smith in 2005 for the U.S.