Unbeaten Yefremova repeats as U17 world champ; Japan steals WW title
Friday, July 29, 2022 - 18:16 By Vinay Siwach
ROME, Italy (July 29) -- Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR) came into the U17 World Championships in Rome as an unbeaten wrestler internationally. The young star has already notched up two U15 and U17 European titles, and one U17 world title. On Friday, she became a two-time U17 world champion and remained undefeated over six tournaments internationally.
When she made her way to the 53kg final against Sakura ONISHI (JPN), it seemed that her record was in danger. But the returning world champion proved too clutch for Onishi and won the 53kg gold 3-1.
Incidentally, Onishi has only lost thrice in her entire career, the latest being to Akari FUJINAMI (JPN) at the Inter-High School Championships. She has now suffered her fourth loss as Yefremova used a near-perfect defensive strategy to beat Onishi.
Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR) extended her unbeaten record to 24 bouts over six tournaments. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
It was the passivity points that made Onishi lose her cool against Yefremova who let Onishi take the 1-0 lead after being called passive in the first period.
But in the second period, Onishi was called passive and Yefremova took the 1-1 criteria lead. Now, Onishi tried hard to get the all-important stepout and almost did it but Yefremova lifted her leg from one-on-two and scored exposure on Onishi with 10 seconds left.
The unbeaten run which now extends to 24 bouts, including the U17 Worlds in Rome, over three years saw Yefremova give up only 11 points while scoring 229 points.
While the 53kg weight class internationally is one of most stacked led by world champion Fujinami, it will be interesting to see how Yefremova fairs when she makes her international debut.
Her gold also propelled Ukraine to the third spot in the team ranking with 112 points, overtaking the USA, the defending champions, which finished fourth with 107 points.
Japan had missed the U17 World Championships in 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak and it only won two titles in Rome but it still managed to win the team title with 180 points, 31 more than India which finished second for a second consecutive year.
MUSKAN (IND) defeated Mona EZAKA (JPN) to win the 40kg gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
India wins 3 golds
Out of the remaining four golds, India won three taking its overall count to five as MUSKAN (IND), SAVITA (IND) and HARSHITA (IND) won the 40kg, 61kg and 69kg gold medals on Friday.
In a rematch of the U17 Asian finals from Bishkek, Muskan wrestled Mona EZAKA (JPN) in the gold medal bout. While Ezaka was able to stretch the bout more than she did in Bishkek, the result, unfortunately, was the same.
Muskan took a 4-0 lead with two counters and then added a go behind to make it 6-0. Ezaka tried grabbing Muskan's legs but the Indian had a solid defense and ultimately found the fall with 1:11 remaining on the clock.
SAVITA (IND) celebrates after winning the 61kg gold medal in Rome. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Savita was as quick as Muskan, beating Valerie HAMILTON (USA), 12-0, in the final. A cradle to start the bout, Savita went for the pin like in her semifinal against Suzu SASAKI (JPN).
Hamilton, however, survived the fall but could never find a way to score points on Savita who ultimately scored the win and claimed the 61kg gold.
Harshita added a third gold by beating Chisato YOSHIDA (JPN) in the 69kg final. Going by her semifinal, it always seemed to be a tough ask for Yoshida to repeat a late takedown in the final against the Indian.
The Indian got hold of Yoshida's leg early in the bout and led 2-0. But she went defensive from there and was put on the activity clock in the second period. Trailing 2-1, Yoshida tried a headlock in the final two seconds but the referee called it clean and even the time ran out. The decision stood despite Japan's challenge. The lost challenge added one more point to Harshita's score.
This was the second year Harshita was at the U17 Worlds. She had finished fifth in Budapest last year.
This was India's best-ever show at the U17 World Championships overtaking the previous year's result. In Budapest, India won three gold medals to finish second.
Koko MATSUDA (JPN) became the U17 world champion at 53kg. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Japan won gold on the final day as Koko MATSUDA (JPN) swept the field at 46kg. She outscored her opponents 27-0 including a 13-0 win over Gabriella GOMEZ (USA).
Wrestling in typical Japanese style, Matsuda was too quick for Gomez and got her leg attacks to score the takedowns. She led 8-0 at the break.
In the second period, Gomez tried a body lock but Matsuda was quick to turn it into an arm throw and get the win. The USA challenged the call but it was four instead of the original two and Matsuda won 13-0.
Jaxen FORREST (USA) produced a final-second takedown to beat Vaibhav PATIL (IND) in the 55kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
USA dominate freestyle
The USA dominated the first day of freestyle, sending four wrestlers to the finals. Five weight classes were in action on Saturday and the USA has finalists in 48kg, 55kg, 65kg and 110kg. India and the USA were the only countries to enter four wrestlers in the semifinals with two head-to-head bouts.
At 55kg, Jaxen FORREST (USA) wrestled U17 Asian champion Vaibhav PATIL (IND) and both wrestlers were not ready to give it up. They exchanged three takedowns each before a low single from Patil almost gave him the winning takedown. But Forrest's knees did not touch the mat. He in turn scored a takedown and won 9-7. Forrest will wrestle Asian silver medalist Daryn ASKERBEK (KAZ) who defeated Jannis REBHOLZ (GER) 5-3.
The other USA-India semifinal was at 65kg in which Tyler KASAK (USA) pinned ANKIT (IND) after leading 8-3. Ankit had several chances to score but Kasak's defense was outstanding throughout the bout. He used a duck under to secure the fall.
For the gold medal, he will now wrestle U17 European champion Ilyas ISAYEV (AZE) who had a tough semifinal against Goga OTINASHVILI (GEO) but eventually won 9-4.
Christian CASTILLO (USA), red, had to jump over Arshia HADDADI (IRI) to score a final-second takedown in the 48kg quarterfinal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)
Two other USA wrestlers in the final were Christian CASTILLO (USA) and Koy HOPKE (USA) at 48kg and 110kg respectively.
Castillo was up against European silver medalist Rassoul GALBOURAEV (FRA) but his leg lace was enough to win 12-1. He will now have to upset Azerbaijan's young star and European champion Vasif BAGHIROV (AZE).
The Azerbaijan wrestler was made to work hard by Lalit KUMAR (IND) in the semifinal but he never looked out of control, winning the bout 7-4.
Hopke dominated his semifinal against Khikmatullo KURBONOV (UZB), winning 12-2. He will wrestle Levan LAGVILAVA (FRA) for the gold.
Levan LAGVILAVA (FRA) became the first wrestler from France to reach U17 Worlds final. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)
Lagvilava was the surprise of the day as he defeated U17 Asian champion Mohammadreza LOTFI (IRI), 11-9 in the semifinal. The France wrestler struggled with his conditioning but every time it seemed he would give up the takedown, he managed to either score a stepout or takedown.
India did manage to reach one final as Sachin MOR (IND) scrapped past Yehor HOROKH (UKR), 4-0. He will have to beat Reza SOLEIMANIAN (IRI) if he wants to win gold.
GOLD: MUSKAN (IND) df. Mona EZAKA (JPN), via fall (10-0)
BRONZE: Yevheniia DRUZENKO (UKR) df. Yagmur KARABACAK (TUR), 8-2
BRONZE: Diana VOICULESCU (ROU) df. Gulasal ABDUNAZAROVA (UZB), via forfeit
GOLD: Koko MATSUDA (JPN) df. Gabriella GOMEZ (USA), 13-0
BRONZE: Alexandra VOICULESCU (ROU) df. SHRUTI (IND), via inj. def.
BRONZE: Yelyzaveta KULAKIVSKA (UKR) df. Kornelia LASZLO (HUN), 4-2
GOLD: Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR) df. Sakura ONISHI (JPN), 3-1
BRONZE: Sevim AKBAS (TUR) df. Khaliun BYAMBASUREN (MGL), 9-6
BRONZE: Lilya COHEN (FRA) df. Ya CHEN (TPE), via fall
GOLD: SAVITA (IND) df. Valerie HAMILTON (USA), 12-0
BRONZE: Suzu SASAKI (JPN) df. Ana CRETU (MDA), 10-0
BRONZE: Sevinch SULTONOVA (UZB) df. Yen LI (TPE), 2-1
GOLD: HARSHITA (IND) df. Chisato YOSHIDA (JPN), 3-1
BRONZE: Gulnura TASHTANBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Nadiia SOKOLOVSKA (UKR), via fall
BRONZE: Veronika VILK (CRO) df. Nikoleta BARMPA (GRE), 6-3
GOLD: Christian CASTILLO (USA) vs. Vasif BAGHIROV (AZE)
SF 1: Christian CASTILLO (USA) df. Rassoul GALBOURAEV (FRA), 12-1
SF 2: Vasif BAGHIROV (AZE) df. Lalit KUMAR (IND), 7-4
GOLD: Jaxen FORREST (USA) vs Daryn ASKERBEK (KAZ)
SF 1: Jaxen FORREST (USA) df. Vaibhav PATIL (IND), 9-7
SF 2: Daryn ASKERBEK (KAZ) df. Jannis REBHOLZ (GER), 6-3
GOLD: Tyler KASAK (USA) vs. Ilyas ISAYEV (AZE)
SF 1: Tyler KASAK (USA) df. ANKIT (IND), via fall (10-3)
SF 2: Ilyas ISAYEV (AZE) df. Goga OTINASHVILI (GEO), 9-4
GOLD: Reza SOLEIMANIAN (IRI) vs Sachin MOR (IND)
SF 1: Reza SOLEIMANIAN (IRI) df. Muhammadamin ABDULOEV (TJK), 10-0
SF 2: Sachin MOR (IND) df. Yehor HOROKH (UKR), 4-0
GOLD: Koy HOPKE (USA) vs Levan LAGVILAVA (FRA)
SF 1: Koy HOPKE (USA) df. Khikmatullo KURBONOV (UZB), 12-2
SF 2: Levan LAGVILAVA (FRA) df. Mohammadreza LOTFI (IRI), 11-9