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Kristie Marano wins her record eighth World Championships medal after collecting a bronze medal



GUANGZHOU, China - Never mind the fact that Kristie Marano had not competed at the World Championships in three years.

When Marano competes on the biggest stage in women's freestyle wrestling there is one constant.

She brings home a medal.

The remarkable career of Marano added another memorable chapter Sunday afternoon when she captured her eighth World medal, winning a bronze medal at the World Championships late Sunday afternoon at the Tianhe Sports Center.

Marano beat Canada's Ohenewa Akuffo 1-1, 4-0 in her bronze-medal match at 72 kg/158.5 pounds.

"This is good - it is always good to come to the World Championships and win a medal," Marano said. "It's not the ideal medal. But it is still third in the World."

"I would definitely rather work for my medal. I had a bunch of hard matches. It makes it feel better to know I had to go out there and work hard."

Two-time World Champion Marano (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) rebounded from a quarterfinal loss to five-time World Champion Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan to win three straight matches Sunday afternoon and earn a bronze medal.

The American women finished with two medals after Patricia Miranda (New Haven, Conn./Sunkist Kids) won a bronze medal for the U.S. on Saturday. The U.S. finished in a tie for seventh in the team standings with 22 points. Japan ran away with the title with 67 points after crowning five champions in seven weight classes.

The United States completed the World Championships with nine overall medals (four in men's freestyle, three in Greco-Roman and two in women's freestyle) in the seven-day tournament. The U.S. won two World gold medals. Bill Zadick provided the U.S. with its first World Champion in men's freestyle since 1999 while Joe Warren gave the U.S. its first Greco-Roman World title since 2002.

Marano is now a perfect 8-for-8 in earning medals when she qualifies for the World Championships. She's won three more World medals than any other American woman in history. Tricia Saunders is next in line with five World medals.

Marano won World gold medals in 2000 and 2003, won World silver medals from 1996-99 and won bronze in 2002 and 2006.

Marano made a triumphant return to the World Championships this year after coming up just short of making the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team and 2005 World Team. Marano bumped up to 158.5 this year after competing at 147.5, in part to start gearing up for the Olympics. There are only four Olympic weights, including 105.5, 121, 138.75 and 158.5.

"This is a step forward," Marano said. "I have a lot of work to do. Luckily, it was still a good year for me. I'm going to try to get to as many overseas tournaments as I can. I hope to grow from this. I also hope to grow into 72 kg. It is a step up from the smaller girls. It is not overpowering. But they have the strength to capitalize on your mistakes."

"This was pretty successful, but also disappointing. You will always be disappointed if you set your goals high and don't reach them. But I can't complain."

USA National Coach Terry Steiner credited Marano's performance.

"Kristie showed true Kristie," Steiner said. "Her character always comes through. She's one of the best competitors I have been around. It was time to focus. She did not have a good match when she lost. She clawed her way back in and beat a girl she hadn't beaten before. It was a year we knew she had to move up in weight, because this will be her Olympic weight class. She has a long way to go in filling the weight. One thing about Kristie is when she is on the mat, she gives every ounce of energy that she has. I am proud of her and how she competed."

Katie Downing (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) fell 1-0, 1-0 to Masira Admiraal of the Netherlands in the second round at 67 kg/147.5 pounds. Downing, a 2005 World bronze medalist, was eliminated when Admiraal lost in the quarterfinals.

Sara McMann (Iowa City, Iowa/Sunkist Kids) fell 1-0, 2-1 to Poland's Monika Rogien in the quarterfinals at 63 kg/138.75 pounds. McMann, who won World-level medals the past three years, was eliminated when Rogien lost in the semifinals.

"We have some changing to do," Steiner said. "In situations like this, it is easy to point fingers and blame. The first thing I have to do is look in the mirror and make some changes myself. From there, we also will look at changes in the program. There is a reason that we went from 2003, when we won seven medals, to now when we have to scrap to get two medals. It starts with the leadership down. I have to make changes. That is where it starts."

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