Sofia Mattsson at the 2016 Olympics (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
As of today, we under 50 days from the start of wrestling at the Olympic Games. Over the next 50 days, we'll bring you one profile per day of a decorated international contender. Make sure you get to know the wrestlers that Team USA will compete against in Tokyo.
6/19/21 - Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)
6/18/21 - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
6/17/21 - Takuro Otoguro (Japan)
6/16/21 - Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)
6/15/21 - Koumba Larroque (France)
6/14/21 - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
6/13/21 - Ningning Rong (China)
6/12/21 - Bajrang Punia (India)
6/11/21 - Frank Staebler (Germany)
6/10/21 - Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)
One of the mainstays of the Senior Women's freestyle scene over the past three decades has been Swedish star, Sofia Mattsson. During her last trip to the Olympics, Mattsson came away with a bronze medal. Over the course of her 15-year Senior-level career, Mattsson has amassed an impressive amount of accolades. She was a world champion in 2009 and has a total of six world medals. Mattsson also has had the misfortune of competing alongside some of the biggest legends in the sport. Her limited results in 2021 indicate that the Swede may be able to threaten for a gold medal and become the highest placing Swedish woman at the Olympics. Here's a synopsis of the 31-year-old's long international career.
Key Wins: Ekaterina Poleshcuk (2019 Poland Open; Bronze), Sumiya Erdenechimeg (2019 Poland Open; Round of 16), Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (2021 Last Chance Qualifier; Finals, 2019 City of Sassari), Vitkoria Vaulina (2019 City of Sassari), Maria Prevolaraki (2019 European Championships; Round of 16), Jacarra Winchester (2021 Henri DeGlane; Finals, 2018 Poland Open, Bronze), Marina Sedneva (2018 Grand Prix of Spain; Finals), Xuechun Zhong (2016 Olympics; Bronze), Odunayo Adekuoroye (2016 Olympics; Round of 16), Irina Kurachkina (2016 European Championship; Final),
Key Losses: Olga Khoroshavtseva (2020 European Championships; Semifinals), Tsugumi Sakurai (2020 Klippan Lady Open; Finals), Vinesh Phogat (2019 World Championships; Qualification), 2019 Poland Open; Quarterfinals), Vanesa Kaladzinskaya (2019 European Championships; Quarterfinals), Diana Weicker (2019 Grand Prix of Germany; Finals), Myong Suk Jung (2018 World Championships; Repechage), Mayu Mukaida (2018 World Championships; Quarterfinals), Roksana Zasina (2019 Nikola Petrov; Quarterfinals, 2018 Poland Open; Semifinals), Helen Maroulis (2016 Olympics; Semifinals)
The Age Group Years (2004-06)
From the moment Sofia Mattson hit the international circuit, she was a medal threat. Mattsson immediately was a force in Europe as she was victorious at the Nordic Junior Championships in January of 2004, at just 14-years-old. Later that year, she captured gold at the European Cadet Championships. It was more of the same in 2015 as Mattsson won both events again.
Mattsson came up during a time where there were no Cadet World Championships, so in 2006 while still Cadet-eligible (at 16), she entered the Junior World Championships. This was after winning Nordic Juniors and European Cadets for a third-consecutive year. Age was no factor as Mattsson collected her first Junior World gold medal in Guatemala City, downing Natalya Pulkovska (Ukraine) for her title.
The Early Senior Level-Years (2007-08)
2007 marked the first year that Mattsson competed internationally on the Senior-level and despite being 17 for most of the year, she never entered tournaments at her own age group after this year. Her first event was the Dave Schultz Memorial and Mattsson ended up in third place in a bracket that saw American Stephanie Murata and Canadian legend Carol Huynh above her. Over the next two months, Mattsson collected bronze medals at the Klippan Lady Open and the European Championships. At the continental meet, Mattsson made headlines by refusing to accept the antiquated "Miss Europe" award. It was given to the "prettiest wrestler." She did not believe the award was an acceptable part of the sport.
Later that year, Mattsson would claim gold in her first Senior-level competition, the Nikola Petrov Tournament. Just a few weeks after that, Mattsson won her second consecutive Junior World title. She prevailed in a weight class that included American Alyssa Lampe (who would get bronze). 2007 also marked Mattsson's first appearance at the Senior World Championships. Though she did not medal, Mattsson finished in a respectable seventh place and tallied three wins.
Mattsson continued her ascend on the Senior level in 2008. She opened the year by winning Sweden's prestigious, Klippan Lady Open. It's an event that she would end up winning two more times during her distinguished career. She also moved up a step on the European podium by grabbing a silver medal at 51 kg. 2008 also marked the first of four appearances at the Olympic Games for Mattsson. Most reading this probably rooted against Mattsson in her Olympic debut as she was paired off against American Clarissa Chun in her opening bout. Chun took the match in two straight periods, 2-1 and 4-1. When the American lost in the semis, Mattsson was eliminated.
The Prime Years (2009-2016)
After the 2008 Olympics, Mattsson moved up to 51 kg, which proved to be a smart decision. It didn't appear to pay dividends right away, though, as Mattsson was tenth at the European Championships and failed to make the finals at the Grand Prix of Germany, the Austrian Ladies Open, and the Golden Grand Prix. She could have been getting accustomed to the new weight, though. Whatever the case, Mattsson was in peak performance at the 2009 World Championships. She knocked off two-time Asian Champion Yuri Kai (Japan) in the semifinals, which locked up her first Senior world medal. Not to be content, Mattsson finished the job by shutting out North Korea's Kum-ok Han 3-0, 4-0 for her world championship. Han was also a silver medalist in Asia. Though Mattsson has had a remarkable career, this remains her only world title.
Mattsson would be a top contender at most events she entered for the next seven years. She'd prove this by winning a European title, the Austrian Ladies Open, and the Golden Grand Prix to start the 2010 campaign. The European gold medal would be the first of four (and counting?) at the event. Right off the back in the 2010 World Championships, Mattsson was paired with the Japanese entrant, Yu Horiuchi, also a two-time Junior World Champion. The two engaged in a defensive struggle, won by Horiuchi, 0-1, 1-0, 2-0. Mattsson was able to rebound and pinned each of her two repechage opponents to earn the bronze medal.
2011 saw more weight changes as Mattsson moved up to 55 kg for the first two tournaments of the year, then 59 kg for the World Championships. The new weight was seemingly not an issue at World's as Mattsson pinned her first two opponents before meeting another Japanese foe in the semis. This time it was the 2011 Asian Champion, Takako Saito. Mattsson managed to slip by, 1-0, 2-0 for her second berth in a world final. World Championship number two did not materialize as Mattsson was edged by Ukraine's Hanna Vasylenko 2-2, 2-1.
For 2012, Mattsson moved back to 55 kg full-time, which is a weight she'd maintain for the next three years. After winning the Nikola Petrov and the Golden Grand Prix, she was second at the European's, which clinched a spot in the Olympic Games. In London, Mattsson racked up a pair of wins which put her in the quarterfinals, opposite Valeria Zholobova of Russia. Mattsson fell in an incredibly close series of bouts. She took the first period 1-1, then lost the final two on criteria. The Swedish star was eliminated when Zholobova fell to the legendary Saori Yoshida (Japan) in the semis.
Coming away from London without a medal did not seem to phase Mattsson as she put together perhaps her finest year of her career in 2013. Mattsson won a total of seven tournaments, including her second European Championship. For that title, she downed Maria Prevolaraki (Greece), who has emerged as a serious medal threat in 2021. Prevolaraki won the Individual World Cup in 2020 and took another silver at the 2021 continental meet.
At the World Championships, Mattsson was in a particularly loaded weight class. In the quarterfinals, she won a 7-6 shootout over young Helen Maroulis. After defeating Emese Barka (Hungary), she had another shot at Yoshida. As most others over the past decade-plus, Mattsson was on the wrong end of a bout against the three-time Olympic gold medalist. She'd have to settle for a second world silver medal.
2014 was pretty similar to 2013. Mattsson grabbed European gold for a third time, won a total of four tournaments, and lost only once prior to the World Championships. Mattsson may have been at her best as she made her way to the finals without surrendering a point in her four matches. One of which was a fall over American Whitney Conder. Unfortunately for Mattsson, waiting in the finals again was Yoshida. Like 2013, she was not able to mount any offense and fell 6-0.
History repeated itself in 2015 as the Swede had an excellent year with three titles and only one loss before the World Championships. Though she gave up a point or two along the way, Mattsson pinned her way to the finals, for yet another date with Yoshida. This time Mattsson was able to keep Yoshida in check, but it wasn't enough to get a win. She fell 2-1.
The silver medal at the 2015 World Championships locked up a place in Rio for the 2016 Olympics. There Mattsson won a pair of bouts which set up another match against Maroulis in the semifinals. This was a much better version of the American and Maroulis pinned the Swede after jumping out to an 8-0 lead. To win Olympic bronze, Mattsson needed to get by two-time Asian champion, Xuechun Zhong (China). Once again, Mattsson was dominant and won by fall after leading 6-0.
Contender Status (2017-Present)
Mattsson only competed once in early 2017 as she was pregnant with her first child. The pregnancy and her rehabilitation afterward kept Mattsson out of action until mid-2018. In a stunning turn of events, Mattson was victorious at her first tournament since at the Grand Prix of Spain. After a bronze at the Poland Open, she was ready for the 2018 World Championships. Mattsson picked up wins in her first two bouts, which put her in the quarters opposite Mayu Mukaida (Japan). Although she lost 6-4, Mattsson was the only opponent that was closer than seven points against Mukaida. She wasn't able to medal, though, as Mattsson fell by a point in her first repechage bout against Jong Myong-suk (North Korea).
Mattsson jumped back into competition with both feet in 2019, entering seven competitions before the World Championships. In one of those tournaments, Mattsson won her sixth Nordic title and her second European Games championships. She had a rough draw at the World Championships and was beaten soundly by Vinesh Phogat (India), 13-0.
Before the world shut down in 2020, Mattsson won a silver medal at the Klippan Lady Open and bronze at the European Championships.
Now in 2021, Mattsson is showing signs of turning back the clock. She captured a title at the Henri DeGlane and then entered the European OG Qualifier. In three matches, Mattsson put together a pair of 10-0 techs and a fall. Her appearance in the finals clinched a fourth Olympic bid.