BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (June 3) -- For some moments in the 59kg final, Solomiia VYNNYK (UKR) thought she could overcome the Yuliia TKACH (UKR) challenge. Both Ukrainians had met in Round 2 of the Nelson bracket and Tkach pinned Vynnyk. As the two faced each other in the final, Vynnyk managed to race to a 6-0 lead. It looked like she would upset Tkach with ease and win the competition.
But Tkach is a willy veteran. She worked her way back in the final and managed to switch gears to score points with ease. She ultimately won the gold medal by a 9-6 scoreline.
Later, Tkach said that it was a deliberate attempt to go slow in the final before mounting a comeback to beat Vynnyk.
"I already wrestled Solomiia earlier today and I won via fall," Tkach said. "But in our second match, I started a little bit at ease and gave up points, then I realized it was time to score and I turned my turbo button on and won."
Tkach winning the gold brings further proof that the former world champion is still one of the best in the world. But with Paris Olympics just over a year away, she will have to move to an Olympic weight class.
"I will definitely go up at 62kg," she said. "Olympic Games is a gift from God."
Tkach has wrestled at the 2008 Beijing Games, 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games but failed to win a medal at any of the Olympics. But Paris gives her a new hope.
"I wrestled at three Olympics but never made a medal. For sure, I would love to have one, but it’s all about God’s will."
And she is leaving no stone unturned for it as the Ukraine team will fly to Japan for a training camp and then participate in the Budapest Ranking Series event. Tkach also said that one should believe in oneself till the end.
"It’s important to believe in yourself till the very end," she said. "As Oksana LIVACH won against the Chinese wrestler in the last two seconds, that was an amazing win."
Meng FAN (CHN) celebrates after beating Oksana LIVACH (UKR). (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
At 50kg, Livach was trailing against Zigi FENG (CHN) but she rallied to beat her 5-4 to reach the final against Meng FAN (CHN). Livach would be cursing her luck as she ended up losing the final in the last 10 seconds against Fan.
Fan was trailing 4-2 with only 10 seconds remaining when she brought Livach down and got the match-winning two points.
While Fan won gold, Feng won bronze and the second bronze was also won by a Chinese wrestler Chun LEI (CHN). This marks the second time that all three Chinese wrestlers are on the podium in 50kg at a Ranking Series event.
Khulan BATKHUYAG (MGL) defeated fellow Mongolian Otgonjargal GANBAATAR (MGL) in the 53kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
At 53kg, three Mongolians -- Khulan BATKHUYAG (MGL), Otgonjargal GANBAATAR (MGL) and Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL) -- reached the semifinals. World silver medalist Batkhuyag faced Lucia YEPEZ (ECU) and won via fall. The second semifinal also saw a similar result as Ganbaatar pinned Olympic bronze medalist Bat Ochir.
In the final, Batkhuyag gave no chance to Ganbaatar and won 8-0 in the gold medal bout. The Asian silver medalist from 2022 defended any attempts from Ganbaatar as well and countered them with takedowns of her own to blank her and win the final.
Kazakhstan won two gold medals in women's wrestling as Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ) won the 55kg gold while Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) won the gold at 72kg.
Sedneva won her career's fifth Ranking Series medal and third gold as she came out on top against world bronze medalist Karla GODINEZ (CAN) 3-1 in the final.
In a Nelson brack, Sedneva faced compatriot Zulfiya YAKHYAROVA (KAZ) and won 6-1, pinned Melda DERNEKCI (TUR) next round and followed that with another pin to win against Mariia VYNNYK (UKR) despite trailing 4-0 in the semifinals.
Bakbergenova was one of the three wrestlers at 72kg but the world silver medalist was a level above the other two. In her first two bouts, she defeated Dalma CANEVA (ITA) 6-0 and then defeated REETIKA (IND) 4-0 in Round 3 to win the gold medal.
Since Reetika defeated Caneva 7-0, the Indian won a silver medal at 72kg.
India also won a gold medal as MANISHA (IND) made her way through a tough Nelson bracket with four dominating wins to win the 65kg weight class.
She began with a 15-4 win against Irina KAZYULINA (KAZ) before adding an 11-0 victory over another Kazakhstan wrestler Gaukhar MUKATAY (KAZ). She won via technical superiority over Purevsuren ULZIISAIKHAN (MGL), 10-0 before clinching the gold by beating Yuliia LESKOVETS (UKR) 6-2 in Round 5.
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