Stadnik Ends Decade-Long Gold Drought with Victory at 50kg; Pak Pulverizes Mukaida

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept.18)--- Since winning her last world title in 2009, Mariya STADNIK (AZE) had two children and piled up a number of global silver medals.

What never changed was her style of wrestling nor her determination to win, and that propelled her back to the top of the victory podium at the World Championships and end a decade of discontent. 

Stadnik captured the women’s 50kg title with a comprehensive 13-0 technical fall over Alina VUC (ROU) in the final as the first four women’s titles were decided in the night session on Day 5.

“Today is an anniversary,” the 31-year-old Stadnik joked. “It was 10 years ago I won a gold medal.”

Stadnik, who could not break through against a succession of Japanese wrestlers who dominated the lowest weight class, said not facing a Japanese in her run to the title did not diminish from her success.

“It doesn’t matter which opponent I face because I came here to win the gold medal,” Stadnik said. “But if you compete with strong wrestlers, you become stronger.” 

Since her victory at the 2009 worlds in Herning, Denmark, Stadnik won silver medals in 2011, 2015 and 2018 and a bronze in 2014, as well as a silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics. 

“Not so many things have changed in my wrestling,” she said. “Maybe some things changed mentally. Ten years ago, I was younger and I wrestled with emotion and a burning heart. Now, I’m older, and I use my head more.”

Asian champion Yuki IRIE (JPN) was knocked out in the quarterfinals the previous day by SUN Yanan (CHN), who then lost to Stadnik in the semifinals. Coincidentally, Irie’s loss marked the first time Japan did not make the final in the lightest weight class since 2009. 

In the final, Stadnik stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the first period. In the second period, a takedown, stepout and caution made it 9-0, then ended the proceedings with a 4-point tackle with :09 left on the clock.

PAK Yong Mi (PRK) grabbed her second victory of the year over two-time world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN). In the finals, Pak defeated Mukaida, 12-1. (Gabor Martin)

The surprise of the finals came at 53kg, not so much for the result as for how one-sided it was.

PAK Yong Mi (PRK) repeated her victory over two-time world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) from the final at this year’s Asian Championships, but in much more dominating fashion as she rolled to a 12-1 technical fall.

“I didn’t care about who is [the opponent],” said Pak, who became the DPR Korea’s first female world champion. “I believe, I trust myself, my strength, my stamina, my agility, everything. This got me the gold medal.”

At the Asian Championships in Xi’an, China, in April, Pak used a last-second takedown to stun Mukaida for the gold. This time, she pulled away with a second-period flurry.

Mukaida took a 1-0 lead after gaining a point with Pak on the activity clock in the first period. But in the second period, Pak scored two takedowns on go-behinds off Mukaida’s tackle attempts. 

After the second takedown, Pak secured an arm-and-body lock, and ripped off four rolls to end the match at 4:31. 

 “Actually, that was not my strategy,” Pak said of her takedown counters. “It was natural. In general terms, my coach trained me a lot about this situation. That’s why automatically I did this technique. I prepared for every situation.”

The 27-year-old Pak credited her success to her coach.

“Everyone knows that [to grow a] beautiful flower, there is somebody who is responsible for the flowering. That’s my coach. My coach taught me best so I could win the gold medal in this event.”

The Nur-Sultan worlds are also serving as the first qualifying tournament for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with the top six finishers in each of the Olympic weight classes clinching berths for their country.

Pak indicated that she expects similar results at the Olympics hosted by the Asian neighbor

“I will never be satisfied with my success today,” she said. “I will try to do my best and live up to the expectations of my coaches, my family members and my fatherland.” 

Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) picked up a 4-1 win over European champion Alina MAKHYNIA (UKR) in the 72kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

The other golds on offer Wednesday, in non-Olympic weight classes, went to Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) at 72kg and Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) at 55kg. 

Vorobeva, a London 2o12 Olympic champion and Rio 2016 silver medalist who returned to the mat this winter after a long layoff, was untroubled in chalking up a 4-1 win over European champion Alina MAKHYNIA (UKR).

“It wasn’t an easy match, but you can see I protected my lead to the end,” said Vorobeva, who took 2 1/2 years off as she give birth to her first child in July 2018.

Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) improved on her fifth-place finish from a year ago by winning the 55kg gold medal. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

Winchester trailed 3-1 in the second period against former junior world champion Nanami IRIE (JPN) when she scored a takedown with 1:24 left and held on for a 5-3 victory.

In the bronze-medal matches, Sun came away empty-handed she gave up a 4-point headlock throw to Ekaterina POLESHCHUK (RUS) with :40 left, and that made the difference in criteria when the bout ended 9-9. 

Valentina ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ) denied Oksana LIVACH (UKR) a second straight world bronze when she won by fall in 3:27.

Asians swept the bronzes at both 53kg and 72kg. 

In the former, Vinesh PHOGAT (IND) defeated Maria PREVOLARAKI (GRE) by fall at 5:14 and PANG Qianyu (CHN) added to her 2018 bronze when Roksana ZASINA (POL) defaulted due to injury. 

At 72kg, Masako FURUICHI (JPN) edged Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) 2-0 and Paliha PALIHA (CHN), the Asian champion at 76kg, also cut it close in defeating Victoria FRANCIS (USA) 2-1

The third-place matches 55kg had mixed reults, with Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) rolling to a 13-0 technical fall of Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ) and Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL) rallying late for a 12-9 win over Bediha GUN (TUR).

Adeline GRAY (USA) will try to win her fifth world title on Thursday night when she takes on two-time world bronze medalist Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN) in the 76kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

Gray gains place in 76kg final; Kawai-Rong showdown set at 57kg
In semifinals in four weight classes held earlier in the session, four-time world champion Adeline GRAY (USA) scored a pair of 2-point exposures late in the second period and held on for a 5-2 victory over former world champ Aline ROTTER FOCKEN (GER) at 76kg.

“Fokken is a world champion so she’s been here before,” Gray said. “We both were playing a strategy game of wanted to take enough risk. It became a chess match until she took a risk and I was able to capitalize on it.”

In the final, Gray will face Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN), a two-time bronze medalist who assured herself a higher place on the podium with a comprehensive 7-0 victory over Epp MAEE (EST).

The two met at the Women’s World Cup in March 2018 in Japan, with Gray coming up a 6-1 win. 

For Gray, having clinched the Olympic spot the previous day relieves some of the pressure, and allows her to have the luxury of wrestling for herself. 

“There was this wave of relief when you get to the semifinal matches,” Gray said. “These matches are now for us. It’s like, we did our job for our country, we’re qualified for the Olympics--which is so important, there’s fewer qualifiers this year, fewer spots, so it’s vital…And this put me in the finals of our Olympic trials. So I won a lot of matches today.”

Two-time world and Olympic champion Risako KAWAI (JPN) will square off with reigning world champion RONG Ningning (CHN) in the 57kg gold-medal bout. (Kadir Caliskan)

The 57kg final will be a showdown between 2018 world champions as Rio 2016 gold medalist Risako KAWAI (JPN) will face RONG Ningning (CHN) after both won their semifinals by 6-1 scores.

Kawai, who won her second world title last year at 59kg before dropping down to the Olympic weight this year, managed to get through the defenses of the lanky Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR).

Having given up a stepout in the first period, Kawai scored a takedown early in the second period while on the activity clock, then pulled away with a takedown and tilt.

“In the 57kg class, the Nigerian athlete has a unique style, and a physique that you don’t see in Japan,” Kawai said.

Rong, unbeaten this year with victories at the Klippan Lady, Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov and Asian tournaments, was never in danger in ousting Jowita WRZESIEN (POL).

By making the final and assuring herself of a medal, Kawai clinched a place on Japan’s team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, ending Kaori ICHO’s bid for a fifth straight Olympic gold in the weight class. ]

In the other finals, Luibov OVCHAROVA (RUS) will face Linda MORAIS (CAN) at 59kg, while Iryna KOLIADENKO (UKR) and Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) will clash for the 65kg gold.

On Thursday, the day session will see the qualification rounds in the final two women’s weight classes, 62kg and 68kg, and the start of freestyle at 57kg and 65kg. All four divisions are on the Olympic program.

Day 5 Results

Women’s Wrestling 

50kg (29 entries)
Gold – Mariya STADNIK (AZE) df. Alina VUC (ROU) by TF, 13-0, 5:51 
Bronze – Valentina ISLAMOVA BRIK (KAZ) df. Oksana LIVACH (UKR) by Fall, 3:27 (5-0)
Bronze – Ekaterina POLESHCHUK (RUS) df. SUN Yanan (CHN), 9-9

53kg (30 entries)
Gold – PAK Yong Mi (PRK) df. Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) by TF, 12-1, 4:29 
Bronze –Vinesh PHOGAT (IND) df. Maria PREVOLARAKI (GRE) by Fall, 5:14 (4-1)
Bronze – PANG Qianyu (CHN) df. Roksana ZASINA (POL) by Inj. Def. 

55kg (18 entries)
Gold – Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) df. Nanami IRIE (JPN), 5-3 
Bronze –Olga KHOROSHAVTSEVA (RUS) df. Marina SEDNEVA (KAZ) by TF, 13-0, 2:22
Bronze – Bolortuya BAT OCHIR (MGL) df. Bediha GUN (TUR), 12-9

57kg (31 entries)
Semifinal – RONG Ningning (CHN) df. Jowita WRZESIEN (POL), 6-1 
Semifinal – Risako KAWAI (JPN) df. Odunayo ADEKUOROYE (NGR), 6-1 

59kg (18 entries)
Semifinal – Luibov OVCHAROVA (RUS) df. Pooja DHANDA (IND) by TF, 10-0, 2:36 
Semifinal – Linda MORAIS (CAN) df. Shoovdor BAATARJAV (MGL), 3-1  

65kg (17 entries)
Semifinal – Iryna KOLIADENKO (UKR) df. Forrest MOLINARI (USA), 6-5 
Semifinal – Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) df. Elis MANOLOVA (AZE), 6-1 

72kg (12 entries)
Gold – Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS) df. Alina MAKHYNIA (UKR), 4-0
Bronze –Masako FURUICHI (JPN) df. Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ), 2-0
Bronze – Paliha PALIHA (CHN) df. Victoria FRANCIS (USA), 2-1

76kg (31 entries)
Semifinal – Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN) df. Epp MAEE (EST), 7-0 
Semifinal – Adeline GRAY (USA) df. Aline ROTTER FOCKEN (GER), 5-2 


Sadulaev Still Reigns Supreme at 97kg with Win over Sharifov; Yazdani Regains 86kg Crown

By Ken Marantz

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (Sept. 22) --- Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) wasn’t surprised that his opponent in the final wasn’t the one everyone expected. He just went out and showed again he could dominate whoever stood between him and another gold medal.

Sadulaev captured his second straight world title and fourth overall with a rock-solid 4-o victory over Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE) in the freestyle 97kg final to bring the curtain down on the Nur-Sultan World Championships.

The victory establishes Sadulaev as the one to beat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where he will look to add to the 86kg gold he won at Rio 2016.

This year’s World Championships served as the first qualifier for Tokyo 2020, with the top six finishers in each of the Olympic weight classes securing berths for their country.

The pretournament hype at 97kg revolved around a potential rematch between Sadulaev and Kyle SNYDER (USA) of the 2018 final in Budapest, which the Russian won to avenge a loss to the American the previous year in Paris.

Asked if he regretted not facing Snyder this time, Sadulaev replied, “No, because the most important final is still waiting for us, the Olympic Games.”

Sharifov, a former Olympic champion in his own right, spoiled the party in Nur-Sultan by beating Snyder in the semifinals.

Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) shutout fellow Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 4-0, in the 97kg finals. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

“In our weight category, there are so many wrestlers with many titles,” Sadulaev said. “Even in the final, I met with an Olympic champion. His technique is very good. I wasn’t surprised that Sharifov reached the final because all wrestlers have equal chances.”

In the final---a battle between natives of the wrestling hotbed of Dagestan, a Russian republic situated on the Caspian Sea---Sadulaev gained a point with Sharifov on the activity clock, then added a single-leg takedown just before the first period ended.

In the second period, a stepout for Sadulaev was the lone point as the powerful Russian kept his Azeri opponent at bay.

Sadulaev said he never imagined himself winning the title before stepping on the mat. 

“I never think like that,” he said. “I know situations when sportsman becomes a champion in their mind, then they don’t have good result.”

Sadulaev said this gold will be special because of the warm reception he received in the former Soviet republic from the crowd at Barys Arena.

“I will keep this championship in my memory for a long time because the organization was of the highest degree and I was surprised that I have so many fans in Kazakhstan,” he said. 

“Even when I met with the Kazakh wrestler, I saw that many Kazakh people supported me.”

Sadulaev’s victory topped off a dominant tournament by Russia, which ran away with the team title with 190 points after medaling in all but one weight class  (125kg) and coming away with five of the 10 golds. 

Host Kazakhstan had no champions, but enough wrestlers in the medal matches to finish second with 103 points, while the United States edged Iran by 1 point for third place with 94 after each added a gold and a bronze on the final day. 

Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) won his second world title after Deepak PUNIA (IND) was forced to withdraw from the gold-medal match due to injury (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Iran’s title on Sunday came without a match, although Deepak PUNIA (IND) would have been hard-pressed to prevent Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) in the 86kg final from regaining the world title he won in 2017 after finishing third last year.

Yazdani was declared the winner when Punia defaulted due to a left ankle injury suffered in his opening match. While Yazdani would have preferred having to work for the victory, it capped a dominant run through the field in which he won three matches by fall or technical fall. 

“The level of this competition is high,” Yazdani said. “But I trained very hard and I was given the opportunity and the chance to win.”Yazdani, the Rio 2016 gold medalist at 74kg, minced no words in stating his determination to earn a second Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

“After a few days rest, I will start to become more prepared and get the best medal in the Olympics,” he said. “This medal was to raise the flag of my country and I want to raise the flag at the next Olympics and make the Iranian people happy.”  

Kyle DAKE (USA) defeated Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE) for the second year in a row in the 79kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

In the non-Olympic weight of 79kg, Kyle DAKE (USA) repeated his victory from the Budapest 2018 final over Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), this time coming away with a 4-1 victory for his second world title.

“I did a lot better job this time,” said Dake, who won 2-0 a year ago. “I moved my feet, which has been a really big focus of mine this past eight months. I’m glad to see it’s coming together.”

Dake went on the offensive from the outset and picked up a pair of stepout points in the first period. He padded the lead in the second period with a single-leg takedown before Hasanov, with his back to wall, finally began launching attacks.

“There were some positions where he got in on my leg at the end, and he would never shoot if it was 0-0,” Dake said. 

“I knew I could not leave it in the hands of the refs. I couldn’t leave it up to cautions, I needed to go out and execute. I got the first pushout, second pushout, takedown and that was the difference.”

In the final minute, Hasanov’s efforts only resulted in a pair of stepouts as Dake forced stalemates from the Azeri’s takedown attempts to come up golden. 

“I was hoping they would have let those scrambles go a little bit longer,” Dake said. “I feel I was ready to score a couple of times, but it is what it is.” 

It was the latest major accomplishment for the 28-year-old father of two, who became the first wrestler in U.S. collegiate history to win four titles in four different weight classes, when he did it while at the Ivy League’s Cornell University.

“It’s a testament to the way I live, the way my wife and family support me, my friends, coaches, teammates, sponsors---I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “It’s been a crazy road this past year to say the least, and I’m just really excited I was able to get it done again.

Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) scored a trio of takedowns and defeated Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS), 6-1, in the 61kg finals. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

In the final at 61kg, also a non-Olympic weight, European silver medalist Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) relegated 2018 world U23 champion Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS) to second place by scoring three takedowns in the second period for a 6-1 win.

In the bronze-medal matches, Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) became the first-ever world freestyle medalist from Switzerland when he chalked up three stepouts to defeat Carlos IZQUIERDO (COL) 3-1 at 86kg. 

History was going to be made regardless of the outcome as Colombia also has never had a freestyle medalist. Switzerland had previously won one world bronze each in the other styles---Kurt RUSTERHOLZ (SUI) in Greco-Roman 87kg in 1953, and Inge KRASSER (SUI) at women’s 57kg in 1989. 

Artur NAIFANOV (RUS) won the other bronze at 86kg with a 6-0 victory over Myles AMINE (SMR), the U.S.-born wrestler who clinched the first-ever Olympic berth for tiny San Marino, the birthplace of his grandfather.

At 97kg, Snyder gained some consolation from his semifinal loss to Sharifov when he grinded out a 5-0 win over Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO) at 97kg to add a world bronze to his collection of two golds and a silver. 

Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) captured a bronze medal with an 8-5 win over Alisher YERGALI (KAZ). (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) became the first wrestler to win a world medal while competing for the newly named nation of North Macedonia when he rallied to defeat Alisher YERGALI (KAZ) 8-5.

Host Kazakhstan came up short in its other shot for a medal before the home crowd when Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) edged Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ) 3-2 at 79kg.

Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS) built up an 8-point lead against Rashid KURBANOV (UZB) and held on for a 8-3 victory for the other 79kg bronze.

Asian bronze medalist Rahul AWARE (IND) became the 10th wrestler in Indian history to win a world freestyle medal when he defeated Tyler GRAFF (USA) 11-4 at 61kg.

Aware, nursing a 4-2 lead, scored a takedown with a slick duck under, then padded his lead with a pair of 2-point exposures. 

Two days earlier, Kumar RAVI (IND) became the eighth Indian medalist when he won a bronze at 57kg, and Punia become No. 9 when he was assured of at least a silver by making the 86kg final.

The other 61kg bronze went to Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI), an 8-0 winner over Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB).

Day 9 Results


61kg (25 entries)
Gold – Beka LOMTADZE (GEO) df. Magomedrasul IDRISOV (RUS), 6-1
Bronze – Behnam EHSANPOOR (IRI) df. Abbos RAKHMONOV (UZB), 8-0 
Bronze – Rahul AWARE (IND) df. Tyler GRAFF (USA), 11-4

79kg (23 entries)
Gold – Kyle DAKE (USA) df. Jabrayil HASANOV (AZE), 4-1
Bronze – Gadzhi NABIEV (RUS) df. Rashid KURBANOV (UZB), 8-3
Bronze – Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) df. Galymzhan USSERBAYEV (KAZ), 3-2

86kg (43 entries)
Gold – Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by Inj. Def. 
Bronze – Stefan REICHMUTH (SUI) df. Carlos IZQUIERDO (COL), 3-0 
Bronze – Artur NAIFANOV (RUS) df. Myles AMINE (SMR), 6-0

97kg (26 entries)
Gold – Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS) df. Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 4-0 
Bronze – Kyle SNYDER (USA) df. Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), 5-0 
Bronze – Magomedgadji NUROV (MKD) df. Alisher YERGALI (KAZ), 8-5