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|2006 World Championships preview at 67 kg/147.5 lbs. in women’s freestyle wrestling|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
Meng Lili of China won the World gold medal last year, defeating Canada's Martine Dugrenier in the championship match. Meng was a World champion in 2001 at 63 kg and placed ninth at the Olympic Games in 2004. She has not competed at any major events during the 2006 season, which makes the Chinese entry this year a bit of a question.
Rui Xue Jing of China, the World silver medalist at 63 kg last year, won the World Cup and the Canada Cup up at 67 kg this year. Su Huihua of China was the Asian champion this year at this division.
Dugrenier made her name on the world level last year, with a strong performance in Budapest at her first Senior World meet. She was a bronze medalist at the World University Championships this year, a weight class which was won by Naranchimeg Gelegjamts of Mongolia. Dugrenier also dropped down to 63 kg for the Canada Cup this summer and took a silver medal.
Winning World bronze medals last year were Elene Perepelkina of Russia and Katie Downing of the United States, both who continue to win medals at international events this year. Perepelkina won the European Championships title this year, and placed second at the World Cup. Russia could also decide to enter Natalia Kuksina, who placed second at the FILA Golden Grand Prix in the finals.
Downing returns to the World Championships for the second time, and seems to have gained confidence since breaking through at this division. For a number of years, she was beaten out for the U.S. teams by two-time World champion Kristie Marano, who Downing defeated in the 2005 World Team Trials. Now Marano competes up at 72 kg. Downing's loss last year at the World meet was to North American rival Dugrenier, and she is anxious for another chance at going for the World title.
This is the only weight class where Japan has not been very strong in recent seasons. One option for Japan is Eri Sakamoto, who was seventh in the World last year. The FILA Golden Grand Prix champion this year at this division was Hiroe Suzuki of Japan. The Junior World champion this year was Japanese, Yoshiko Inoue. Another talent is Mami Shinkai, who was second at the World University Championships. It would still be a major achievement if Japan were able to win a medal at this weight class, which has been the weak link in its very strong lineup.
Kristina Odrina of Latvia placed second at the European Championships this year, her first medal at the continental level in her career. Winning European bronze medals were Irina Tsyrkevich of Belarus and Agnieszka Wieszczek of Poland. For both of them, this was also their best performances at this weight class. Wieszczek won a World University silver medal at 72 kg in 2004, and has only dropped down to this weight class this season.
Ashlea McManus of Great Britain had a surprising performance at the 2005 World Championships, placing fifth in the standings. She was ninth in the European Championships this year. Mongolia's Naranchimeg Gelegjamts was also fifth at the World meet last year, but came in fifth at the Asian Championships this year.
Also placing in the top 10 at the World meet last year were Rita Soos of Hungary, Stavrola Zygouri of Greece, and Masira Admiraal of the Netherlands. Zygouri placed fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games, competing down at 63 kg.
A veteran who is always capable of making an impact is Lisa Golliot-Legrand, who was eighth at the European Championships this year. Legrand won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games, competing at 63 kg, and won World gold medals way back in 1995 and 1997. At 30 years old, she may be past her prime, but she remains a difficult opponent because of her experience and saavy.
2002 World champion Katarina Burmistrova of Ukraine placed 15th at the World meet last year, yet was a 2005 European champion at this division. She has not wrestled since the World meet in Hungary last year. Ukraine was represented by Valeria Zlatova at the European Championships this year, who pl;aced seventh in the standings.
The 67 kg division has shown a considerable amount of turnover and change over recent seasons. With the defending champion Meng Lili being from China, which is hosting the World meet this year, she enters as a favorite to defend on her home mats. However, there are a number of others with the ability to battle for the gold here, and the results in this division are never easy to predict.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2005 World Championships results
67 kg/147.5 lbs. - Gold - Meng Lili (China); Silver - Martine Dugrenier (Canada); Bronze - Elene Perepelkina (Russia); Bronze - Katie Downing (USA); 5th - Naranchimeg Gelegjamts (Mongolia); 5th - Ashlea McManus (Great Britain); 7th - Eri Sakamoto (Japan); 8th - Rita Soos (Hungary); 9th - Stavrola Zygouri (Greece); 10th - Masira Admiraal (Netherlands)
2004 - Olympic Year - No World Championships at this non-Olympic weight
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)