A look at the venue for the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan (Photo/Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling)
The 2019 Senior Wrestling World Championships start this week in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The competition starts with Greco-Roman, moves to women's wrestling, and ends with freestyle wrestling, and likely Snyderlaev III.
The hype for the World Championships has been plenty discussed. The season saw a number of stars arise and capture the attention of the worldwide wrestling community. In freestyle that was Bajrang Punia, who wrestled in six international events in 2018 and won over a hostile crowd in Dagestan. The victory gave Bajrang a cult following in Russia. His performance 48 hours later against Yianni in NYC also won him fans stateside.
For the women this year has seen considerable improvement from Team USA but headlined by a Team Japan that's been completely overhauled. Yoshida is long retired, but Icho's comeback at 57 kilograms pushed teammate Risako Kawai into a third and decisive wrestle-off. Kawai won and then so did her sister. A fact that was made more remarkable by Yuki Irie who upended two-time defending world champion Yui Susaki to take the 50-kilogram starting spot. She too will be joined by her sister Nanami in Nur-Sultan, who is competing at 55 kilograms. The Japanese team brings back 2016 Olympic champions Sara Dosho at 68 kilograms, but overall has five faces in their lineup this year that weren't there in 2018.
As for Greco-Roman, the story will be who can catch the Russian side. They dominated the field in 2018 en route to winning six of 10 gold medals. Add in a healthy two-time Olympic champion in Roman Vlasov and there is high likelihood that the Russian team could capture at least five gold medals in Nur-Sultan.
The competition starts in just 24 hours, with the first draws starting Friday at 4 p.m. local time. Here is the schedule in ET.
Date Preliminary Rds Gold, Bronze Finals
Saturday, September 14: GR: 55-63-72-82 kilograms
Sunday, September 15: GR: GR: 67-87-97 kilograms // GR: 55-63-72-82 kilograms
Monday, September 16: GR: 60-77-130 kilograms // GR: 67-87-97 kilograms
Tuesday, September 17: WW: 50-53-55-72 kilograms // GR: 60-77-130 kilograms
Wednesday, September 18: WW: 57-59-65-76 kilograms // WW: 50-53-55-72 kilograms
Thursday, September 19: WW: 62-68/FS: 57-65 // WW: 57-59-65-76 kilograms
Friday, September 20: FS: 70-74-92-125 kilograms // FS: 57-65 kilograms /WW: 62-68 kilograms
Saturday, September 21: FS: 61-79-86-97 kilograms // FS: 70-74-92-125 kilograms
Sunday, September 22: FS: 61-79-86-97 kilograms
To your questions …
Q: We need your picks, Timothy.
-- William S.
Foley: See below.
57 kilograms: Zaur Uguev (Russia)
61 kilograms: Yowls Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba)
65 kilograms: Bajrang Punia (India)
70 kilograms: Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)
74 kilograms: Jordan Burroughs (USA)
79 kilograms: Kyle Dake (USA)
86 kilograms: Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran)
92 kilograms: J'den Cox (USA)
97 kilograms: Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia)
130 kilograms: Taha Akgul (Turkey)
50 kilograms: Yanan Sun (China)
53 kilograms: Vinesh Vinesh (India)
55 kilograms: Nanami Irie (Japan)
57 kilograms: Risako Kawai (Japan)
59 kilograms: Xinru Pei (China)
62 kilograms: Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria)
65 kilograms: Forrest Molinari (USA)
68 kilograms: Sara Dosho (Japan)
72 kilograms: Alina Berezhna Stadnik (Ukraine)
76 kilograms: Adeline Gray (USA)
55 kilograms: Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan)
60 kilograms: Victor Ciobanu (Moldova)
63 kilograms: Stepan Maryanyan (Russia)
67 kilograms: Artem Surkov (Russia)
72 kilograms: Balint Korpsi (Hungary)
77 kilograms: Roman Vlasov (Russia)
82 kilograms: Aleksandr Komarov (Russia)
87 kilograms: Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine)
97 kilograms: Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia)
130 kilograms: Riza Kayaalp (Turkey)
For a full guide to the World Championships you can/should scan the 70-page Media and Fan Guide. The guide has several helpful features for fans looking to learn more about the championships, including the tournament schedule, links to prior results, downloadable event photos, graphics, entry lists, seeding, and a glimpse at all the anticipated matchups across the 30 championship weight categories.
There will be some updates over the next few days so look for a new version on the UWW event site.
Q: With so many NCAA All-Americans taking Olympic redshirts, do you think this college wrestling season will be less exciting than previous seasons?
-- Mike C.
Foley: There are many Olympic redshirts this cycle. The increase has as much to do with opportunity for improved training as it does the belief they could actually qualify for the team. That's not to dismiss the opportunity of the Olympics or the talent of the athletes, but some of the names aren't synonymous with an Olympic medal.
To their credit, the training opportunity in an Olympic year is incredible. Team USA camps and the number of like-minded collegiate athletes making the rounds will certainly mean that individual athletes will improve dramatically. In addition, the ability to see international competition should also mean improved an competitive outlook and overseas training camps.
While the lack of the biggest stars might depress the appeal of the NCAA, it will also mean that we have a number of athletes improving out of site. It's a trade-off, but one that most of us can agree is worth the burn.
Q: What do you view as the deepest weight class at the World Championships across all three styles?
-- Mike C.
Foley: The 65-kilogram freestyle category has 51 entries! While not a printable fact, in some discussions with members of the staff and press it was mentioned that 48 might be the most entries ever in a weight category. It's a full half of all nations with athletes entered at the championships.
When you look at the athletes it's even more impressive. Bajrang Punia (India), Takuto Otoguro (Japan), Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia), Gazimuradov Rashidov (Russia), Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan), and third seed Selahattin Kilicsallayan (Turkey). And oh by the way, Zain Retherford (USA).
Greco-Roman at 67 kilograms has 44 entries with a massive number of world and Olympic champions in Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan), Frank Staebler (Germany) Ismael Borrero (Cuba), Hansu Ryu (Korea), and Artem Surkov (Russia).
Women's wrestling is dominated by 57 kilograms which is loaded with the next generation of superstars (plus Olympic champion Risako Kawai) and the top weight, 76 kilograms. The latter has five world and Olympic champions: Adeline Gray (USA), Erica Wiebe (Canada), Aline Focken (Germany), Qiian Zhou (China), and Yasmin Adar (Turkey).
World Championships required viewing
Bajrang: India's next golden grappler
Russia vs. USA
Women's 76 kilograms
Japan women's dominance