After a disappointing seventh-place finish in the 2016 Rio Games, three-time World Champion Adeline Gray took 2017 off, rested and repaired her body and came back to win her fourth world title in dominating style at the United World Wrestling World Championships at the Papp Laszlo Budapest Sportarena in Budapest (HUN).
Gray stomped her first two opponents in the 76 kg class with a 10-0 technical fall and a pin in 4:49, then survived a significant challenge from Canada’s Erica Wiebe in the semifinals, winning 3-1. She then faced reigning World Champion Yasemin Adar (TUR) and after going down, 1-0, scored 13 consecutive points and won by a 13-1 final.
“Man, the talent in this bracket is insane, and I came out on top,” enthused Gray when it was all over. “We had Olympic and World champions. The technique and the quality there has just been so awesome. Talk about woman power. The heavyweight division of the world is stacked. It’s a good day.”
Gray became the second American woman to win four World Championships, previously in 2012, 2014 and 2015 (and bronzes in 2011 and 2013). She joins John Smith, Tricia Saunders and Jordan Burroughs in that club, and she and Burroughs are both still active.
Gray’s win was the highlight of the U.S. women’s performance, which had several other highlights:
∙ Sarah Hildebrandt took the silver medal in the 53 kg division, winning her first three bouts by 5-1, 15-9 and 11-0 scores, but was thoroughly handled by Japan’s Haruna Okumo in the final, 11-0.
“I had a game plan and she shut it down pretty well and I couldn’t adjust,” said Hildebrandt. “The very best in the world can adjust in the moment. She shut my game plan down. I stuck with it and didn’t make any adjustments during the match. We’ve wrestled before. We trained together. We both knew each other. She knew what I was coming for.”
∙ Tamyra Mensah won the bronze medal at 68 kg, with a 7-4 win over Canada’s Olivia Di Bacco. Mensah lost a tight, 2-1 battle against France’s Koumba Larroque in the semis, but rebounded to earn her first senior World Championships medal.
∙ Mallory Velte won the bronze at 62 kg in a tight, 2-1 match against Brazil’s Lais Nunes de Oliveira. Both of Velte’s points were scored as the result of shot-clock trials and she defended perfectly.
“I have wrestled her in practice” said Velte. “I knew it was going to be a grinder. She is hard to score on. I feel like a million bucks right now. There are a lot of changes I made, but there were a lot of things that stayed the same.”
The U.S. also had fifth-place finishes from Jacarra Winchester at 55 kg and Forrest Molinari at 65 kg, both losing in the bronze-medal matches.
The biggest shock of the tournament was the first-round loss by 2016 Olympic and 2015-17 World Champion Helen Maroulis at 57 kg. She was unscored on during last year’s Worlds (and in 2015) en route to the gold medal, but was in a tough, 2-2 match with Alyona Kolesnik (AZE), but was turned and pinned at 3:46 and finished 21st.
She told FloWrestling afterwards, “I maybe should have waited the year to come back” after her concussion in a tournament in India last January. But she’s hardly done, posting on Twitter, “Hindsight is always 20/20 but no regrets. I learned so much from this year and this journey. Hope is an anchor for the soul. I’m believing and when the time is right will work for better things in the future.”
As usual, Japan won the team title – it’s fifth in a row and 22 of 29 all-time! – with China second and the U.S. third, down one place from 2017. Depth was once again the difference: Japan scored in eight of the 10 classes – with four wins, a silver and two bronzes – and rolled up 156 points. China also scored in nine classes for 119 points and the U.S. had points in seven weights for 103.
In terms of defending champions, only Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili was able to repeat as World Champion in the men’s Freestyle competition. In the women’s competition, three Japanese stars repeated as World Champions this time: Risako Kawai at 59 kg, after winning at 60 kg last year; Yui Sasaki at 50 kg (48 kg in 2017) and Haruna Okuno won at 53 kg (55 kg last year).
The remaining schedule includes just the men’s Greco-Roman division, which will conclude on Sunday.
NBC’s Olympic Channel has coverage scheduled daily of the UWW Worlds; summaries so far:
UWW World Championships
Budapest (HUN) ~ 20-28 October 2018
(Full results here)
-57 kg:1. Zavur Uguev (RUS); 2. Nurislam Sanayev (KAZ); 3. Suleman Atli (TUR) and Yuki Takahashi (JPN). Third: Atli d. Tom Gilman (USA), 5-4; Takahashi d. Reineri Andreu Ortega (CUB), 5-4. Final: Uguev d. Sanayev, 4-3.
-61 kg: 1. Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (CUB); 2. Gadzhimurad Rashidov (RUS); 3. Tuvshintulga Tumenbileg (MGL) and Joe Colon (USA). Final: Rodriguez d. Rashidov, 6-5; Third: Tumenbileg d. Beka Lomtadze (GEO), 6-3; Colon d. Mohammadbagher Esmaeil Yakhkeshi (IRI), 13-2.
-65 kg: 1. Takuto Otoguro (JPN); 2. Bajrang Bajrang (IND); 3. Alejandro Valdes Tobier (CUB) and Akhmed Chakaev (RUS). Third: Valdes Tobier d. Seung-Chul Lee (KOR), 10-0; Chakaev d. George Bucur (ROU), 9-4. Final: Otoguro d. Bajrang, 16-9.
-70 kg: 1. Magomedrasul Gazimegomedov (RUS); 2. Adam Batirov (BRN); 3. Zurabi Iakobishvili (GEO) and Franklin Maren Castillo (CUB). Third: Iakobishvili d. Byambadorj Bat Erdene (MGL), 10-0; Maren Castillo d, Andriy Kvyatkovskyy (UKR), 11-1. Final: Gazimagomedov d. Batirov, 7-6.
-74 kg: 1. Zaurbek Sidakov (RUS); 2. Avtandil Kentchadze (GEO); 3. Jordan Burroughs (USA) and Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (UZB). Final: Sidakov d. Kentchadze, 2-2 (criteria); Third: Burroughs d. Chamizo, 4-4 (criteria); Abdurakhmonov d. Soner Demirtas (TUR), 3-2.
-79 kg: 1. Kyle Dake (USA); 2. Jabrayil Hasanov (AZE); 3. Ali Shabanau (BLR) and Akhmed Gadzhimagomedov (RUS). Third: Shananu d. Ezzatollah Akbarizarinkolaei (IRI), 8-8 (criteria); Gadzhimagomedov d. Davit Khutsishvili (GEO), 10-0. Final: Dake d. Hasanov, 2-0.
-86 kg: 1. David Taylor (USA); 2. Fatih Erdin (TUR); 3. Hassan Aliazam Yazdanicharati (IRI) and Taimuraz Friev Naskidaeva (ESP). Final: Taylor d. Erdin, 12-2; Third: Yazdanicharati d. Dauren Kurugliev (RUS), 11-5; Friev Naskidaeva (ESP) d. Gwanuk Kim (KOR), 7-2.
-92 kg: 1. J’Den Cox (USA); 2. Ivan Yankouski (BLR); 3. Ali Karimimachiani (IRI) and Atsushi Matsumoto (JPN). Third: Karimimachiani d. Dato Marsagishvili (GEO), 12-1; Matsumoto d. Tortogtokh Luvsandorj (MGL), 6-5. Final: Cox d. Yankouski, 4-1.
-97 kg: 1. Abdulrashid Sadulaev (RUS); 2. Kyle Snyder (USA); 3. Elizbar Odikadze (GEO) and Abraham Contedo Ruano (ITA). Third: Odikadze d. Magomed Ibragimov (UZB); Conyedo Ruano d. Pavlo Oliinyk (HUN), 2-2 (criteria), Final: Sadulaev d. Snyder by pin, 1:11..
-125 kg: 1. Geno Petriashvili (GEO); 2. Zhiwei Deng (CHN); 3. Parviz Khodavirdi Hadibasmanj (IRI) and Nick Gwiazdowski (USA). Final: Petriashvili d. Zhiwei Deng (CHN), 6-0; Third: Hadibasmanj (IRI) d. Anzor Ruslanovitch Khizriev (RUS), 11-2; Gwiazdowski (USA) d. Sumit Sumit (IND), 7-2.
Team leaders (62 scored): 1.Russia, 178; 2. United States, 150; 3. Georgia, 105; 4. Cuba, 67; 5. Japan, 67; 6. Iran, 65; 7. Mongolia, 57; 8. Turkey, 53; 9. Azerbaijan, 44; 10. Belarus, 41.
-50 kg: 1. Yui Sasaki (JPN); 2. Mariya Stadnik (AZE); 3. Yanan Sun (CHN) and Oksana Livach (UKR). Third: Sun d. Sonhyang Kim (PRK), 10-0; Livach d. Ritu Ritu (IND), 10-5. Final: Sasaki d. Stadnik, 10-0.
-53 kg: 1. Haruna Okuno (JPN); 2. Sarah Hildebrandt (USA); 3. Qianyu Pang (CHN) and Diana Weicker (CAN). Third: Pang d. Katarzyna Krawczyk (POL), 2-1; Weicker d. Zhuldyz Eshimova (KAZ), 3-2. Final: Okuno d. Hildebrandt, 11-0.
-55 kg: 1. Mayu Mikaida (JPN); 2. Zaline Sidakova (BLR); 3. Myong Suk Jong (PRK) and Lianna Montero Herrers (CUB). Third: Jong d. Qi Zhang (CHN), 2-1; Montero Herrera d. Jacarra Winchester (USA), 5-4. Final: Mukaida d. Sidakova, 12-2.
-57 kg: 1. Ningning Rong (CHN); 2. Bilyana Dudova (BUL); 3. Pooja Dhanda (IND) and Emese Barka (HUN). Third: Dhanda d. Grace Bullen (NOR), 10-7; Barka d. Kateryna Zhydachevska (ROU), 6-0. Final: Rong d. Dudova, 3-3 (criteria).
-59 kg: 1. Risako Kawai (JPN); 2. Elif Yesilirmak (TUR); 3. Shoovdor Baatarjav (MGL) and Xingru Pei (CHN). Third: Baatarjav d. Alejandra Romero Bonilla (MEX), 4-2; Pei d. Svetlana Lipatova (RUS), 7-1. Final: Kawai d. Yesilirmak (TUR), 8-0.
-62 kg: 1. Taybe Yusein (BUL); 2. Yukako Kawai (JPN); 3. Mallory Velte (USA) and Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk (UKR). Third: Velte d. Lais Nunes de Oliveira (BRA), 2-1; Tkach Ostapchuk d. Marianna Sastin (HUN), 2-0. Final: Yusein d. Kawai, 6-2.
-65 kg: Petra Olli (FIN); 2. Danielle Lappage (CAN); 3. Iryna Netreba (AZE) and Ayana Gempei (JPN). Third: Netreba d. Forrest Molinari (USA), 1-1 (criteria); Gempei d. Ritu Ritu (IND), 7-3. Final: Olli d. Lappage, 6-5.
-68 kg: 1. Alla Cherkasova (UKR); 2. Koumba Larroque (FRA); 3. Tamyra Mensah (USA) and Feng Zhou (CHN). Third: Mensah d. Olivia Di Bacco (CAN), 7-4; Zhou d. Maryia Mamashuk (BUL), 12-1. Final: Cherkasova d. Larroque, 15-10.
-72 kg: 1. Justina di Stasio (CAN); 2. Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (MGL); 3. Buse Tosun (TUR) and Martina Kuenz (AUT). Third: Tosun d. Juan Wang (CHN), 5-2; Kuenz d. Samar Hamza (EGY), 2-1. Final: Do Stasio d. Ochirbat, 4-2.
-76 kg: 1. Adeline Gray (USA); 2. Yasemin Adar (TUR); 3. Erica Wiebe (CAN) and Hiroe Minagawa Suzuki (JPN). Third: Wiebe d. Epp Mae (EST), 4-0; Minagawa Suzuki d. Zsanett Nemeth (HUN, 0-0 (criteria). Final: Gray d. Adar, 13-1.
Team leaders (36 scored): 1. Japan, 146; 2. China, 119; 3. United States, 103; 4. Canada, 89; 5. Mongolia, 71; 6. Ukraine, 59; 7. Turkey, 55; 8. India, 51; 9. Bulgaria, 47; 10. Azerbaijan, 41.