Ozaki earns Women’s Wrestler of the Year honors

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 28) -- United World Wrestling has announced Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) as the Women’s Wrestler of the Year. 

At the mere age of 19 years, Ozaki joined a rare list of wrestlers with all four world titles.

This year was undoubtedly Ozaki’s year as she won U20, U23 and senior world golds this season.

Ozaki won a bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships but stormed back with a gold-medal-winning performance in 2022 in Belgrade. On her way to the gold, she defeated defending world champion Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) and silver medalist Kayla MIRACLE (USA).

Domestically, Ozaki needed to defeat Olympic champion Yukako KAWAI (JPN) to make the world team. She did that in May 2022 and then remained undefeated on the season until suffering a season-ending loss by Sakura MOTOKI in the final at the All-Japan Championships on December 25.

In April, she won her first Asian Championships title by beating Tynybekova, added the U20 world title in August, and completed the set by winning the U23 world gold in October. She won the U17 world title in 2019 in Sofia.

The year-ending rankings were also a reflection of her dominance as she finished on the top at 62kg with 55000 ranking points, out-placing other veterans of the sport.


Sharshenbekov secures UWW’s Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year award

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (December 30) -- Zholoman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ) has secured United World Wrestling’s 2022 Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year award.

Sharshenbekov reached the World Championships finals two times prior to his appearance in the 2022 finals, but this year, he broke the final barrier and won the gold medal in Belgrade.

Wrestling at 60kg, the Kyrgyzstan star defeated Edmond NAZARYAN (BUL), 11-2, in two minutes and 30 seconds to seal a memorable world title.

Had it not been for compatriot Akzhol MAKHMUDOV (KGZ) at 77kg 48 hours before, Sharshenbekov would have been the first-ever male world champion for his country. Despite that, Sharshenbekov announced himself as a serious contender for the Paris Olympics.

The World Championships was not the only highlight of the year for Sharshenbekov.

He also won the Asian Championships in April over Mehdi MOHSEN NEJAD (IRI) to set the pace for the season.

The two championships gold medals and a bronze medal at the Bolat Turlykhanov Cup Ranking Series, collectively, awarded Sharshenbekov 55000 ranking points, making him the top-ranked wrestler at the end of the year.