Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!
Already a subscriber? Log In
Japan is the premier nation in the world when it comes to women's wrestling, dominating as a team and piling up medals year after year.
But at the 2019 world championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, they appear vulnerable for the first time in a decade. This article will be continually updated throughout the week as we follow the quest to dethrone Japan.
In addition to the individual glory that comes from being a world champion, each nation is pushing to win a team title as well. For the first time in what seems like forever, there is a sense that Japan can be caught and the United States may be able to knock them off. America's only title in women's wrestling came in 1999. Additionally in 2003, Japan and Team USA tied at 62, but Japan had more golds and claimed the crown.
Since the first world championships to feature women's wrestling in 1987, Japan has finished at the top of the heap 22 times. The last time they did not win was in 2012 (a non-Olympic worlds), and the last time they did not win in a year that was not the Olympics was 2010.
The argument for Japan being unusually weak this year is due to the way their Trials worked, with medalists at Olympic weights guaranteeing their spot to compete in Tokyo next year. That became apparent on day one, as they dropped two matches and are guaranteed to miss out on a medal at 50kg, where they have won gold the past two years.
Team Scores After Day 6
Despite only qualifying one weight for the Olympics, Russia will finish second, though they cant overtake Japan. Amazingly, Japan finishes with only one champ. The United States finishes in fourth, their worst team finish since 2011, when they were also fourth.
None of the the top three teams put someone in the semifinals at 62kg or 68kg today, but Japan has both in the repechage. All that can happen tomorrow is they expand their lead and/or China overtakes Russia for second.
50kg: Yuki Irie - 8th Place (6 Pts)
53kg: Mayu Mukaida - Silver (20 Pts)
55kg: Nanami Irie - Silver (20 pts)
57kg: Risako Kawai - Gold (25 Pts)
59kg: Yuzuka Inagaki - Eighth (6 Pts)
62kg: Yukako Kawai
Repechage vs Alejandra Romero Bonilla (MEX)
65kg: Naomi Ruike - DNP (0 Pts)
68kg: Sara Dosho
Repechage vs NZL/NGR
72kg: Masako Furuichi - Bronze (15 Pts)
76kg: Hiroe Minagawa - Silver (20 Pts)
50kg: Ekaterina Poleshchuk - Bronze (15 Pts)
53kg: Stalvira ORSHUSH - DNP (0 Pts)
55kg: Olga Khoroshavtseva - Bronze (15 Pts)
57kg: Marina Simonyan - Seventh (8 Pts)
59kg: Liubov Ovcharova - Siver (20 Pts)
62kg: Mariia Kuznetsova - Eliminated (0 Pts)
65kg: Inna Trazhukova - Gold (25 Pts)
68kg: Khanum Velieva - Eliminated (0 Pts)
72kg: Natalia Vorobeva - Gold (25 pts)
76kg: Ekaterina BUKINA - Eliminated (0 Pts)
50kg: Yanan Sun - Fifth (10 Pts)
53kg: Qianyu Pang - Bronze (15 Pts)
55kg: Mengyu Xie - Tenth (2 Pts)
57kg: Ningning Rong - Silver (20 Pts)
59kg: Xingru Pei - Bronze (15 Pts)
62kg: Xiaojuan Luo
Repechage vs Kriszta Incze (ROU)
65kg: Xiaoqian Wang - Bronze (15 Pts)
68kg: Feng Zhou
72kg: Paliha Paliha - Bronze (15 Pts)
76kg: Qian Zhou - Fifth (10 Pts)
50kg: Whitney Conder - DNP (0 Pts)
53kg: Sarah Hildebrandt - 9th (4 Pts)
55kg: Jacarra Winchester - Gold (25 Pts)
57kg: Jenna Burkert - DNP (0 Pts)
59kg: Alli Ragan - DNP (0 Pts)
62kg: Kayla Miracle
11-0 over Nabira Esenbaeva (UZB)
15-4 over Lais Nunes de Oliveira (BRA)
6-6 loss to Jong Sim Rim (PRK)
65kg: Forrest Molinari - Fifth (10 Pts)
68kg: Tamyra Mensah-Stock
Gold vs Jenny Frannsson (SWE)
72kg: Victoria Francis - Fifth (10 Pts)
76kg: Adeline Gray - Gold (25 Pts)
Team Scores After Day 5
It seemed like Japan was taking control of the team race, but the evening session went very well for Russia, as they won all three medal matches and both semifinals, pulling within six points of Japan. Although Inagaki lost at 59kg and Ruike fell at 65kg, Minagawa was a surprise semifinalist at 76kg and qualifies them for the Olympics at this weight. America is now battling it out for third with China and Ukraine.
Day 2 Morning Session Updates
Right away, Japan picks up 10 team points from Masako Furuichi as she makes the bronze medal match at 72g.
Burkert opens up with an 8-0 win over the Czech Republic. Risako Kawai gets a 38 second tech over a two-time world champ from Mongolia.
It looked like Nigeria was going to help the US majorly at 76kg, but Hiroe Minagawa staged a seven point comeback to beat Blessing Joy Onbeyuchi.
Massive, massive hit to any hopes of a team title for USA as Lysak of Ukraine does what she always did in Cadets and Juniors: double overs for 4, pinning Alli Ragan in the first round.
The team score is out of reach now, as Hildebrandt loses to India and fails to make the medal match. Around the same time, Russia pinned Jenna Burkert.
Adeline Gray teched Kazakhstan in the round of 16, and the host nation is falling behind in the team race. Forrest Molinari gets a pin and gives Team USA two in the quarters.
Japan put three in the quarters, and went 2-1. Naomi Ruike was eliminated, so they won't score any points at 65kg. Pooja Dhanda (IND) beat Yuzuka Inagaki on a late 4 with a cutback. With Russia hot on their heels, they'll need Dhanda to beat Ovcharova for more than just repechage hopes.
Ovcharova pinned her way into the semis and Inna Trazhukova also made the semis, helping Russia greatly in the non-Olympic weights. They'll need Epp Mae (EST) to beat Minagawa at 76kg to pull Ekaterina Bukina back in. At 57kg, Simonyan should be pulled back in by Ningning Rong making the finals.
As mentioned above, USA took major hits to their projected scores when returning silver Sarah Hildebrandt failed to make the bronze medal match, and two-time silver Alli Ragan was pinned by Ukraine in the first round. Forrest Molinari will need to avenge a loss from last year's U23 quarters to Ukraine and Adeline Gray will see past world champ Aline Rotter Focken of Germany in the semis.
Team Scores After Day 4
Here are the results for China, Kazakhstan, Japan, and the United States from that first session, as well as if their wrestler has been eliminated and who their semifinal opponent will be.
Sun Yanan might be one of the most exciting women's wrestlers we've ever seen. She used a head pinch for 4 and suplex for 5 to carry her to an insane 13-12 win over Japan's rep, which helps USA massively and also guarantees China a spot in the Olympics at 50kg. She has an even taller task against eight-time world/Olympic medalist Mariya Stadnik. Up a weight, Qianyu Pang ensured China was the only country to earn both quotas for Tokyo.
50kg: Sun Yanan
5-2 over Son Hyang KIM (PRK)
13-12 over Yuki IRIE (JPN)
6-4 loss to Mariya STADNIK (AZE)
53kg: Qianyu Pang
10-0 over Nina HEMMER (GER)
FALL 3:27 over Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR)
12-2 loss to Yong Mi PAK (PRK)
55kg: Mengyu Xie
7-4 loss to Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS)
72kg: Paliha Paliha
4-1 over Oyunsuren BANZRAGCH (MGL)
FALL 3:52 over Seoyeon JEONG (KOR)
7-0 loss to Alina STADNIK MAKHYNIA (UKR)
Fantastic opening session for the host nation, but they are definitely the underdog at the two non-Olympic weights. Islamova Brik qualified her country for Tokyo, but she is about a 50/50 split with world silver Vuc of Romania.
50kg: Valentina Islamova Brik
11-0 tech over Julie Martine SABATIE (FRA)
12-0 tech over Kseniya STANKEVICH (BLR)
13-2 tech over Evin DEMIRHAN (TUR)
6-6 los to Emilia VUC (ROU)
53kg: Tatyana Amanzhol
7-6 loss to Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR)
55kg: Marina Sedneva
FALL 1:30 over Thi Ly KIEU (VIE)
5-0 over Anna LUKASIAK (POL)
10-0 loss to Nanami IRIE (JPN)
72kg: Zhamila Bakbergenova
11-0 over Beste ALTUG (TUR)
11-0 loss to Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS)
They obviously still have a ton of firepower left but Japan dropping two matches in a session is highly unusual. There's a possibility they don't get pulled back into repechage at either 50kg or 72kg, which is counteracted by them being heavy favorites at both 53kg and 55kg. Mukaida, who dropped down a weight for the Olympics, is one win away from guaranteeing her spot in the Games next year and has already qualified the weight.
50kg: Yuki Irie
10-0 over Yusneylys GUZMAN LOPEZ (CUB)
5-0 over Iwona MATKOWSKA (POL)
13-12 loss to Yanan SUN (CHN)
53kg: Mayu Mukaida
6-1 over Yuliia BLAHINYA (UKR)
7-0 over Vinesh PHOGAT (IND)
12-1 over Sarah Hildebrandt (JPN)
4-0 over Maria PREVOLARAKI (GRE)
55kg: Nanami Irie
10-0 over Jade PARSONS (CAN)
7-4 over Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS)
10-0 over Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ)
72kg: Masako Furuichi
6-4 loss to Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS)
A tough day for America. We knew Conder's draw would be brutal, and she's out. We knew Sarah's quarter would be crucial, and she got teched. Victoria had the 2013 world champ, and she got headlocked. But Jacarra looked fantastic, teching both of her opponents and now gets Turkey to make her first world final.
50kg: Whitney Conder
6-0 loss to Son Hyang KIM (PRK)
53kg: Sarah Hildebrandt
10-0 over Thi Dao BUI (VIE)
12-1 loss to Mayu Mukaida (JPN)
55kg: Jacarra Winchester
10-0 over Madina NADIROVA (KGZ)
13-2 over Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL)
Semi vs Bediha GUN (TUR)
72kg: Victoria Francis
FALL 2:29 over Dejah SLATER (CAN)
4-0 loss to Alina STADNIK MAKHYNIA (UKR)
- Mariya Stadnik (AZE) beat Yanan Sun (CHN), which means Yuki Irie is out, and Japan could only get as many as 8 points at 50g.
- Alina Vuc (ROU) mounted a big second-period comeback to topple Valentina Islamova Brik (KAZ)
- Trailing by two at the break, Yong Mi Pak (PRK) finishes a single right into a lace to tech Qianyu Pang and make the 53kg finals.
- Mukaida gets two first period takedowns to beat Greece 4-0. Gives Japan their first finalist and pulls Sarah Hildebrandt back in.
- Hildebandt will have the winner of Yuliia Blahinya (UKR) and Vinesh Phogat (IND) tomorrow in repechage. Vinesh pinned Hildebrandt at the Kolov earlier this year.
- Nanami Irie (JPN) completely dominates Sedneva of Kazakhstan and gives Japan their second finalist and the team lead.
- After falling short of bronze last year, Jacarra wins 6-4 in a match where she outshot Turkey by about 5-1. That gives the USA 20 points to end the first day.
- Kazakhstan goes 0-3 in the semis, as the former world and Olympic champ Natalia Vorobeva (RUS) punctuated her win with a gnarly chin whip for 4 to finish off the tech.
- Ukraine beat China in the semis, so China got no points that round. Additionally, Victoria Francis is pulled back in. She will face China for bronze tomorrow.