Although COVID-19 prevented much of the major national and international wrestling events in 2020, 2021 has been rich in female wrestling at the highest level. Besides having both the Olympics and the World Championships in the same year, wrestling fans were treated to incredible competitions by age level and exciting national events. Here are 21 of the highlights of women’s freestyle from 2021:
Mensah Stock wins second Olympic women’s freestyle gold in United States
Five years after Helen Maroulis shattered the glass ceiling by becoming the first US Olympic women’s wrestling champion, Tamyra Mensah Stock won her own gold medal in Tokyo. Her feat was made even more impressive by her dominance – her path to gold included a technical superiority victory over the reigning Olympic champion and wins of 10-0, 10-4 and 4-1.
Blades and Welker in the Olympic Trials final
When Kennedy Blades and 18-year-old Kylie Welker both qualified for the Olympic Trials and Last Chance Qualifiers in Fort Worth, Texas, most wrestling fans weren’t quite expecting them. compete for a place on the team. Blades and Welker both shocked the nation as they pushed their way through 68-kilogram and 76-kilogram slices, respectively, only falling to the eventual Olympic finalists in their last bouts.
Iowa Adds Women’s Wrestling, Hires Chun
With Iowa’s wrestling heritage and its current status as a powerhouse, it seemed fitting that the Hawkeyes would become the first Power 5 school to add women’s wrestling. The university followed up on the exciting news with the hiring of a fantastic head coach: World champion and Olympic medalist Clarissa Chun. The school will start participating in the 2023-2024 season.
Japanese women win four Olympic titles
Japan’s long-standing dominance in women’s wrestling was evident in the Olympics, and the talented women did not disappoint their hometown fans. The Japanese have won two-thirds of the women’s wrestling titles, with gold medals in the four lightest weight classes.
Susaki dominates her way to an Olympic title
Japanese lightweight Yui Susaki’s performance in Tokyo must go down in history as perhaps the most dominant Olympic race of all time. The two-time world champion won technicians in the first period over each of her very seasoned opponents, not giving up any points in the process.
Rotter-Focken ends career with Olympic victory over Gray
Aline Rotter-Focken from Germany announced ahead of the Games that the Olympics would be her last competition, and she ended her career with a huge statement. She arguably snagged the biggest upset of the year when she knocked down huge favorite Adeline Gray with a 7-3 controlled victory.
Gray redeems himself after falling in Tokyo and wins No.6 world title
Few expected Adeline Gray to return from the Olympics with more than a gold medal, making her loss to Germany’s Rotter Focken a huge surprise. However, Gray reminded the world how talented she is with a dominant performance in Oslo, pinning her way to her sixth world title.
Olympic champions Maroulis and Kawai meet in razor-sharp fight
It was one of the most anticipated matches of the Tokyo Games: 2016 Olympic champions Helen Maroulis and Risako Kawai faced off in the 57kg semi-final. In a battle of world-class positioning and two-way passivity points, Kawai escaped 2-1 victory; wrestling fans should look forward to a rematch between these two greats in the years to come.
Helen overcomes adversity, wins another Olympic medal + world title
When Helen Maroulis suffered a series of intense concussions in 2018, many – including Maroulis herself – thought her wrestling career might be over. However, the American legend fought back and added to his legacy this year, securing an Olympic bronze medal and winning his third world title in a dominant fashion.
Oborodudu becomes first African woman to compete in Olympic finals
In recent years, the Nigerian women’s wrestling program has shown remarkable growth, and Blessing Oborodudu’s impressive Olympic Finals run consolidated this improvement. After the bottom half of the 68-kilogram slice collapsed with surprising upheaval, Oborodudu rose to the top and gave Mensah Stock his closest match to the tournament before winning silver.
Yukako Kawai defeats Tynybekova in the fourth game of the series
Wrestling fans were treated to the fourth rendition of a clash between two of today’s greatest athletes in women’s wrestling: Aisuluu Tynybekova from Kyrgyzstan and Yukako Kawai from Japan. Although Tynybekova led the series 2-1 ahead of the Olympics, Yukako Kawai tied the score with a 4-3 victory to claim an Olympic gold alongside her sister, Risako.
Mensah-Stock team wins first captain’s cup
While the fight has been plagued by COVID-related woes for much of 2020, one of the fruits of those hurdles has been the inaugural Captain’s Cup event: a double-meet tournament with teams led by the best American freestylers. The event was won by the dynamic group of athletes from Tamyra Mensah-Stock, including Amy Fearnside, Alisha Howk, Abby Nette, Xochitl Motta-Petis and Dymond Guilford, as well as coach Afsoon Johnston. The high level wrestling was accompanied by a deep sense of camaraderie and team spirit on the part of each of the women participating in the event.
Americans pursue junior title with dominant junior world championships
The next generation of American women has emerged dominant on the world stage with two team titles and seven individual champions in Budapest for the cadet world championships and in Ufa for the juniors. This incredible performance was evidenced by the impressive sweep of the top weights at the World Juniors, where Amit Elor, Kennedy Blades and Kylie Welker struggled to fight their way to the world titles without losing a point.
Shilson and Elor double their world titles; Welker makes three world teams
Amit Elor and Emily Shilson have been widely recognized as freaks in recent years, but the world title pairs each won this year – Amit in Cadets and Juniors, Emily in Juniors and Under 23 – have frozen this out. perception. Kylie Welker has had an equally impressive year, winning a junior world title, U23 world bronze and part of the 72 kilo senior world squad.
Yepez, Anshu and Ringaci make history
Several women have marked the history of their country this year with remarkable performances at the World Championships. Lucia Yepez Guzman became the first Ecuadorian woman to win a world title by reaching 53 kilograms (compared to her Olympic weight class of 50) and winning the Under-23 in Belgrade. Indian Olympian Anshu also became the first woman from her country to advance to the world final. Irina Ringaci won the first senior women’s world title in the growing Moldovan women’s wrestling program when she added to her gold medal in Ufa with a strong performance in Norway.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic finalists drop in Oslo
68 kilos turned out to be one of the craziest weight classes of the year, and Oslo was no exception. Olympic finalist Blessing Oborodudu lost in a savage game against Russia’s Khanum Velieva and was not selected for the draft after Velieva failed to advance to the final. In an even more shocking upheaval, Olympic champion Tamyra Mensah Stock was pinned down by Japan’s Rin Miyaji without being announced in just 21 seconds after the young Japanese got a cradle and cornered the American, much to the world’s surprise.
Teenager Fujinami wins world title
Akari Fujinami needed parental permission just to compete in the world championships, but she has shown poise and wrestling talent far beyond her age. The high school student has made her way to a world title at 53 kilos and recently added another Japanese national title to her rapidly growing resume. The world will no doubt be aware of an impending clash against defending Olympic champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan.
Japanese backups win tag team title in Oslo
Ahead of the World Championships, it looked like the well-decorated US women’s team would have a chance to defeat perennial favorites Japan for their first tag team title in decades. However, the young Japanese showed up – winning medals at nine of 10 weights – and proved why the country is revered as such a power.
Kyrgyzstan women’s program emerges as a higher power
Kyrgyz wrestling superstars Aisuluu Tynybekova and Meerim Zhumanzarova have made their country’s history this year by becoming the first woman in any sport to win an Olympic medal for their country, winning silver at 62 kilograms and respectively bronze at 68 kilograms. They followed that with world titles in Oslo, and fellow Olympian Aiperi Medet Kyzy added a U23 world title to cap off a groundbreaking year. The victories of these women have helped to improve the conditions of all sporting women in Kyrgyzstan.
Ukraine enters potential powerhouse with strong Olympic performances and Under-23s
Ukrainian women’s wrestling has shown how bright its future is with strong performances at age level and Olympic competition this year. With seven European junior champions, two Olympic medalists and five World Under-23 finalists, Ukraine will definitely be a program to watch heading into 2022.
Japan, China, United States, Mongolia and Russia qualify for Olympic six weights
As 2021 revealed new countries that could become potential powerhouses, the five core women’s wrestling nations have continued to deliver strong results. Japan dominated the international stage, but the United States have proven that they continue to gain ground with spectacular results in senior and age levels. The team race between these two countries will certainly be a point of interest in the years to come.