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OLYMPIC NEWS SERVICE: Women’s freestyle preview for 55 kg, 72 kg
YOSHIDA (JPN) aims for third successive gold medal in women's 55kg freestyle wrestling
London, 8 August - Saori YOSHIDA (JPN) will begin her quest for a third gold medal at the Olympics when she faces Kelsey CAMPBELL (USA) on Thursday in the women's freestyle 55kg 1/8 finals.
YOSHIDA, who was the Olympic champion in Athens and Beijing, also has nine world championship titles and will be seeking to equal the record for world-level championships (12) held by then three-time Olympic Greco-Roman gold medal winnner Alexander KARELIN (RUS).
Tonya Lynn VERBEEK (CAN) will be seeking her third Olympic Games medal. She took the silver medal in Athens 2004 and a bronze medal in Beijing 2008. VERBEEK, who turns 35 the day after the close of the Olympic Games, has not won in eight meetings with YOSHIDA, but took her the distance in last year's world championship final.
Valeria ZHOLOBOVA (RUS) finished second and third in the junior world championships in 2010 and 2011 behind young Japanese wrestlers, but she claimed the biggest prize of her career, thus far, with a win over YOSHIDA in the 2011 World Cup meet. The only title of her career was the European cadet championship in 2009.
Yulia RATKEVICH (AZE) was the world champion at 59kg in 2009 and runner-up to YOSHIDA in 2010. The former wrestler from Belarus, however, slipped to seventh at last year's world championships after a loss to VERBEEK in the quarterfinals and another loss in repechage.
Jackeline RENTERIA CASTILLO (COL) won Colombia's first Olympic Games medal in wrestling (bronze) in Beijing. She has won a series of tournaments in Europe this spring and summer (Austria, Poland, Spain) and appears ready for another run at an Olympic Games medal.
HAN Kum Ok (PRK) became the DPR Korea's first world finalist in women's wrestling in 2009 at 51kg. She and teammate CHOE Un Gyong (PRK) are the DPR Korea's first entries in women's wrestling at an Olympic Games.
Three world champions from 2009 are competing at 55kg: YOSHIDA, Sofia MATTSSON (SWE, the 51kg world champion) and Yulia RATKEVICH (AZE, the 59kg world champion).
Geeta GEETA (IND) is India's first entry in women's wrestling at an Olympic Games.
ZLATEVA HRISTOVA (BUL) draws to prelims in women's 72kg bracket
LONDON, 8 August - Five-time world champion Stanka Zlateva HRISTOVA (BUL) kicks off her bid for an Olympic Games gold medal from the preliminary group when action in the 72kg weight category gets under way at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
HRISTOVA, better known to wrestling fans as Stanka ZLATEVA, was the silver medallist at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and the 29-year-old veteran wants to make her third Olympic Games the charm.
ZLATEVA opens with world bronze medallist Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR) with her way obstructed by a number of tough opponents. In the semifinals, she could meet former world No.2 and Athens Olympian Burmaa OCHIRBAT (MGL).
In the upper half of the bracket, Athens silver medallist Guzel MANYUROVA (KAZ) is ready to make another run to the finals if she can get by two-time Olympic Games medal winner Kyoko HAMAGUCHI (JPN) and defending Olympic Games champion WANG Jiao (CHN). However, three-time junior world champ Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) could have something to say in the quarterfinals.
Stanka Zlateva HRISTOVA (BUL) is a five-time world champion and is back at the Olympic Games to secure the gold medal that got away at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. HRISTOVA, known to fans of women's wrestling as Stanka ZLATEVA, is wrestling in third Olympic Games and after finishing 12th in Athens. She nearly completed a "worst to first" in Beijing but had to settle for the silver medal. ZLATEVA has also won the European championships five times, but slipped to third in 2011 and tumbled to 18th in March.
Guzel MANYUROVA (KAZ) was silver medallist for Russia at the Athens 2004 Olympics Games, where women's wrestling made its debut on the Olympic Programme. With some young talent coming up in Russia, MANYUROVA made the move to Kazakhstan and has won at the Asian championships the last three years. MANYUROVA finished fifth in the world championships but won the Poland Open crown.
WANG Jiao (CHN) pinned ZLATEVA in the gold medal final in Beijing but has had few notable results since then. WANG lost to Guzel MANYUROVA (KAZ) in the finals of the 2011 Asia championships and managed only an 11th in the world championships after being pinned in a 30-point free-for-all with Ali Sue BERNARD (USA).
Ali Sue BERNARD (USA) was fifth in Beijing and a bronze medallist in the world meet last year.
Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) was three times the junior world champion (2009-2011) and the bronze medallist at the European championships in March. She steps in for Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS), who was runner-up to ZLATEVA in the world championships.
Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR) was a bronze medallist at the 2011 world championships and runner-up in the European championships.
Kyoko HAMAGUCHI (JPN) won bronze medals in Athens and Beijing and has been a five-time world champion. She has also won more world-level medals (10) in women's wrestling than any other wrestler. But, at 34, fans in Japan are wondering if she has enough left in the tank to win one more.