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2005 World Championships preview at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle
As a non-Olympic weight class, this group of athletes did not compete last year at this division. Many moved up in weight, while others dropped down to try out for the Olympics. This year, there will be some veterans returning to action, as well as some newcomers trying to make a mark.
The last World champion at 67 kg was two-time World champion Kristie Marano of the United States, who won the World title in her home state of New York. Marano was beaten in the 2005 U.S. World Team Trials by World Cup champion Katie Downing, who will be at her first World Championships. Downing, a Junior World medalist earlier in her career, has vast experience and has finally gotten her chance to make a mark. She has had a tremendous year on international tours. Downing has gained the confidence of knowing that she finally beat her nemesis and international star Marano twice in a row in the Trials in Ames, Iowa in June.
The other medalists from the 2003 World Championships were silver medal Ewelina Pruszko of Poland and bronze medalist Svetlana Martinenko of Russia. Both of these athletes changed weights last year, with Martinenko moving up to heavyweight, and Pruszko dropping down to 63 kg. Certainly, by returning to their best weight class, both will be among the medal hopefuls. Pruszko was also fourth at the 2002 World Championships, where she lost the bronze-medal match to American star Marano.
The World Champion at this division in 2002 was Katarina Burmistrova of Ukraine, and the silver medalist was France's Lise LeGrand-Golliot, who won an Olympic bronze in 2004 at 63 kg. Burmistrova won the European title and LeGrand-Golliot was a bronze medalist at this year's European tournament, both competing at their normal weights at 67 kg. LeGrande-Golliot has won two World gold medals, making her again a threat to win the World title once again.
Jing Rui Xue of China claimed a gold medal at the 2005 Asian Championships, with Eri Sakamoto of Japan winning the silver medal. The other Japanese athlete at this division in recent years has been Norie Sato, who was fifth in the 2003 World meet. This has been Japan's weakest weight class over the past few seasons, and it would not be surprising to see a new face in the lineup. Japan boasts an outstanding young star, Junior World champion and University World Games champion Mami Shinkai.
China is also expected to continue to improve as it prepares for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and could be grooming some young athletes during this four-year Olympic cycle. China's entry at the 2004 Olympics was Wang Jiao, who placed seventh.
The European Championships also featured silver medalist Elena Perpelkina of Russia and bronze medalist Teresa Mendez of Spain. Perpelkina could be the future of the Russian team at this division. Another possible Russian entry is Anna Shamova, who was was second in the 2000 World Championships and third in the 1999 World Championships. Mendez has yet to perform well on the World level, and is considered an unknown quantity, and Spain is not one of the world's recognized wrestling powers.
Shannon Samler of Canada was fourth at the 2003 World Championships, but has not been a factor on the world scene ever since. Canada will be represented by talented Martine Dugrunier, who was a University World champion in 2004 and won the Canadian Nationals the last two years. She has won some tough battles with American Downing, and is expected to be a medal contender her first year at the World meet.
Stavroula Zygouri of Greece was sixth at the 2003 World meet, and dropped down to 63 kg for the Athens Games, taking a strong fourth place in the tournament. If she moves back up to this division, she could be a force.
Other athletes with past success at this division includes Martina Zyklova of the Czech Republic, Annika Oertli of Germany, Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria and Xiomara Guavara of Venezuela.
It would not be a surprise if this division featured a number of new athletes from the major wrestling nations. This could be a wide open contest, where athletes such as Downing and Dugrunier and many others who have waited their turn step up and establish themselves.
RECENT WORLD RESULTS
2003 World Championships results
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Kristie Marano (United States) dec. Ewelina Pruszko (Poland), 7-1; Bronze - Svetlana Martynenko (Russia) dec. Shannon Samler (Canada), 4-3, ot, 8:07; 5th - Nori Saito (Japan); 6th - Stavroula Zygouri (Greece); 7th - Wang Jiao (China); 8th - Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine); 9th - Martina Zyklova (Czech Republic); 10th - Jodeen Macgregor (New Zealand)
2002 World Championships
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - 1st - Katarina Burmistrova (Ukraine) dec Lise Legrand (France), 3-2, ot, 6:48; 3rd - Kristie Marano (USA) dec. Ewelina Pruszko (Poland), 6-1; 5th - Aikaterini Siavou (Greece); 6th - Annika Oertli (Germany); 7th - Norie Saito (Japan); 8th - Stanka Zlateva (Bulgaria); 9th - Elena Perepelkina (Russia); 10th - Xiomara Guavara (Venezuela)
2001 World Championships results
68 kg/149.75 lbs. - Gold - Christine Nordhagen-Vierling (Canada) dec. Toccara Montgomery (USA), 4-1; Bronze - Anita Schatzle (Germany) won by tech. fall over Sveta Yarashevich (Russia), 11-1; 5th - Katerina Burmistrova (Ukraine); 6th - Yanli Yang (China); 7th - Zlateve Stanka (Bulgaria); 8th - Unda Maider (Spain); 9th - Monika Kowalska (Poland); 10th - Jana Panova (Kyrghzstan)