Kayla Miracle (left), Tamyra Mensah-Stock (center), and Adeline Gray (Photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Over the next six days, we will bring you weight class previews for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Each preview will include three Olympic weights. They will highlight notable past achievements of the competitors in each weight, the American entry, and what to look for during the competition. Today we'll move on to the final three women's freestyle weights (62, 68, and 76 kg).
If you missed our earlier previews, they are below.
Women's Part One (50, 53, 57kg)
Greco-Roman Part One (60, 67, 77kg)
Greco-Roman Part Two (87, 97, 130kg)
62 kg Women's Freestyle
Aminat Adeniyi (Nigeria) - 2016 Olympian, 3x African Champion
Marwa Amri (Tunisia) - 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2017 World Silver Medalist, 11x African Champion
Khurelkhuugiin Bolortuyaa (Mongolia) - 2021 Asian Silver Medalist
Anastasija Grigorjeva (Latvia) - 2x World Medalist, 2x Olympian, 4x European Champion
Kriszta Incze (Romania) - 2019 European Silver Medalist
Henna Johansson (Sweden) - 2x World Medalist, 2x Olympian, 2012 European Champion
Yukako Kawai (Japan) - 2x World Medalist, 2020 Asian Champion
Iryna Koliadenko (Ukraine) - 2019 World Silver Medalist, 2x U23 World Bronze Medalist, 2021 European Champion
Jia Long (China) -
Sonam Malik (India) - 2x Cadet World Champion
Lais Nunes de Oliveira (Brazil) - 2016 Olympian, 2x Pan-American Champion
Lyubov Ovcharova (Russia) - 2019 World Silver Medalist, 2x Junior World Champion, 2017 European Champion
Marianna Sastin (Hungary) - 2013 World Champion, 3x World Medalist, 3x Olympian, 2x European Silver Medalist
Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan) - 2019 World Champion, 2x World Medalist, 2x Olympian, 4x Asian Champion
Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria) - 2018 World Champion, 6x World Medalist, 2x European Champion
The American Entry
Kayla Miracle - While Kayla Miracle has plenty of experience on the age-group level, she is still the youngest member of the American women's team and is making only her second Senior world/Olympic team. The five others have at least three on their resumes. Miracle grew up a star at each stage, winning world medals at the Cadet, Junior, and U23 World level, along with four national titles for Campbellsville. The next box to check is the Senior level.
Miracle made her first Senior world team in 2019, but came up short of a medal and finished eighth at worlds. That placement did not qualify the US for the 2020 Olympics, so Miracle was forced to head to the 2020 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. In Ottawa, Miracle demolished the field, including two-time Olympic medalist Jackeline Renteria-Castillo (Colombia). The wins allowed Miracle to receive a bye to the finals of the Olympic Trials in April. There she was met with a tough challenge from another young phenom, Macey Kilty. The pair split the first two bouts and went to a third contest for the Olympic berth. Unfortunately, Kilty went down with an injury and couldn't continue, which gave Miracle the spot.
Miracle has competed once since the Olympic Trials, where she was victorious at the Pan-American Championships. That tournament contained one opponent from the 2020 Olympic field, Lais Nunes de Oliveira (Brazil). Miracle has the goods to compete with, and beat, anyone at this weight; she just needs to put it all together on the mat.
Number of Senior World/Olympic Champions: 3 (Sastin, Tynybekova, Yusein)
Number of Senior World/Olympic Medalists: 9 (Amri, Grigorjeva, Johansson, Kawai, Koliadenko, Ovcharova, Sastin, Tynybekova, Yusein)
This bracket might be the most wide-open of any of the six women's weights. Any number of women could win here on their best days. Top-seeded Aisuluu Tynybekova became the first woman from Kyrgyzstan to wrestle in the Olympics in 2012; now, she's attempting to win their first gold medal in women's wrestling. She comes in on a roll after winning world's in 2019 and the Individual World Cup in 2020. This weight should see some movement with seeds as Yulia Tkach (Ukraine) originally earned the third seed; however, she is not Ukraine's entry. That distinction belongs to 2019 World silver medalist Iryna Koliadenko. She will not be seeded, nor will another silver medalist from 2019, Lyubov Ovcharova. They are some of the top unseeded threats, but there are plenty throughout this weight.
68 kg Women's Freestyle
Soronzonboldyn Battsetseg (Mongolia) - 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2x World Champion, 4x World Medalist, 2017 Asian Champion
Alla Cherkasova (Ukraine) - 2018 World Champion, 2x World Medalist, 2019 European Champion
Sara Dosho (Japan) - 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2017 World Champion, 4x World Medalist, 4x Asian Champion
Mimi Hristova (Bulgaria) - 2016 Olympian, 2020 European Champion
Danielle Lappage (Canada) - 2018 World Silver Medalist, 2016 Olympian
Koumba Larroque (France) - 2x World Medalist, 2017 U23 World Champion, 2021 European Champion
Elis Manolova (Azerbaijan) - 2019 World Bronze Medalist, 2018 U23 World Silver Medalist, 2019 European Champion
Enas Mostafa (Egypt) - 2x African Champion
Blessing Oborududu (Nigeria) - 2x Olympian, 10x African Champion
Yudaris Sanchez Rodriguez (Cuba) - 2018 U23 World Champion, 2x Pan-American Champion
Anna Schell (Germany) - 2019 World Bronze Medalist, 2019 European Silver Medalist
Khanum Velieva (Russia) - 2018 U23 World Bronze Medalist, 2020 European Champion
Agnieszka Wieszczek-Kordus (Poland) - 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2x Olympian, 4x European Bronze Medalist
Feng Zhou (China) - 2015 World Silver Medalist, 2016 Olympian, 2012 Junior World Champion, 2x Asian Champion
Meerim Zhumanazarova (Kyrgyzstan) - 2019 World Silver Medalist, 2x Asian Bronze Medalist
The American Entry
Tamyra Mensah-Stock - One of the two American women to hold the number one seed at their respective weight is Tamyra Mensah-Stock. Though she was an Olympic Trials winner in 2016, this will be Mensah-Stock's first time competing in the Games. The weight was not qualified before the 2016 Trials and she wasn't able to do so afterward. Since then, Mensah-Stock is a completely different wrestler. She claimed world bronze in 2018 and followed it up with a dominating run to a world title the following year.
That world title reserved a spot in the Olympics for the Americans at 68 kg. Mensah-Stock's continued growth as separated her from the rest of the 68 kg class domestically. She faced upstart high school sensation Kennedy Blades in the Olympic Trials finals and, while starting slow, ended up with wins of 12-4 and 8-1 to clinch her place on the 2020 team.
Since 2019, Mensah-Stock has only suffered one loss during international competition. That came at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone to China's Feng Zhou. She captured a title at that event in 2021, along with the Henri DeGlane and Pan-American Championships. Those helped her obtain the top seed at 68 kgs.
Number of Senior World/Olympic Champions: 4 (Battsetseg, Cherkasova, Dosho, Mensah-Stock)
Number of Senior World/Olympic Medalists: 11 (Battsetseg, Cherkasova, Dosho, Lappage, Larroque, Manolova, Mensah-Stock, Schell, Wieszczek-Kordus, Zhou, Zhumanazarova)
We've already discussed Mensah-Stock, who is the top seed and should be considered the favorite at this weight. There's no shortage of potential bumps in the road as 11 of the 16 entrants at this weight own a world or Olympic medal on the senior level. Interestingly enough, the second seed, Blessing Oborududu, is one of the five remaining who have not medaled. That means, there's a 75% chance that Mensah-Stock will see a returning world medalist in her opening bout. Now looking deeper into the accomplishments of the field and when they occurred, most of Battsetseg and Wieszczek-Kordus' success came around a decade ago, so they may be past their primes, a bit. Though this is a talented field, the gambling lines have Mensah-Stock as the second-best odds (-200 per Barstool) of any woman, across all six weights.
76 kg Women's Freestyle
Yasemin Adar (Turkey) - 2017 World Champion, 2x World Medalist, 4x European Champion
Alla Belinska (Ukraine) - 2021 European Champion
Samar Hamza (Egypt) - 2018 World fifth-place, 2016 Olympian, 4x African Champion
Epp Mae (Estonia) - 2x World Medalist, 2021 European Champion
Vasilisa Marzaliuk (Belarus) - 4x World Medalist, 2x Olympic fifth-place, 2x European Silver Medalist
Aiperi Medet Kyzy (Kyrgyzstan) - 2x Asian Silver Medalist
Hiroe Minigawa (Japan) - 3x World Medalist, 3x Asian Champion
Burmaa Ochirtbat (Mongolia) - 3x World Medalist, 2x Olympian, 2016 Asian Champion
Aline Rotter Focken (Germany) - 2014 World Champion, 4x World Medalist, 3x European Champion
Zaineb Sghaier (Tunisia) - 2020 Africian Champion
Aline de Silva Ferreira (Brazil) - 2014 World Silver Medalist, 2x Pan-American Silver Medalist
Elmira Syzdykova (Kazakhstan) - 2016 Olympic Bronze Medalist, 2021 Asian Champion
Natalya Vorobieva (Russia) - 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2x Olympic Medalist, 2x World Champion, 4x World Medalist, 3x European Champion
Erica Wiebe (Canada) - 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, 2018 World Bronze Medalist
Qian Zhou (China) - 2x World Medalist, 2018 Asian Champion
The American Entry
Adeline Gray - The legendary Adeline Gray had done it all during her long, storied international career, except winning an Olympic gold medal. All signs pointed towards Gray winning in 2016, as she has rolled to world titles in each of the previous two years. Once again, we head into the Games with Adeline coming off gold medals from the 2018 and 2019 World Championships. This will be her 10th world/Olympic team. Gray is already in a category of her own as the only American (man or woman) to own five world titles.
At the Trials, Gray squared off with upstart, high schooler Kylie Welker. Like many before her, Welker didn't pose much of a threat and Gray teched her 10-0 and 11-0.
After winning the Trials, Gray went and won a title at the Pan-American Championships. She brought home her second career gold medal at the event and shut out 2014 World silver medalist Aline de Silva Ferreira of Brazil.
Number of Senior World/Olympic Champions: 5 (Adar, Gray, Rotter Focken, Vorobieva, Wiebe)
Number of Senior World/Olympic Medalists: 12 (Adar, Gray, Mae, Marzaliuk, Minigawa, Ochirtbat, Rotter Focken, de Silva Ferreira, Syzdykova, Vorobieva, Wiebe, Zhou)
The American fanbase hopes that Gray puts the cherry on top of an already Hall of Fame-worthy career and comes away with the gold. There's certainly a strong possibility that it happens. There are plenty of worthy adversaries for her along the way. Vorobieva and Wiebe are past Olympic gold medalists. This bracket will contain more past world medalists than any other women's weight class. Every match at this weight will be world semi's/world finals-worthy. Gray has the top seed, but with the depth of this weight, it really doesn't matter. She's only the other half from Rotter-Focken and Minigawa, but there's still plenty of landmines she could run into. There will be three world/Olympic champions coming in unseeded. Get your popcorn ready!