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Wrestling preview: Japan pins hope on women wrestlers to win more Olympic golds
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16:13, August 16, 2008

Japan was pinning the hope on its women wrestlers to win more golds in the Beijing Olympic Games as two more women's wrestling crowns will be offered on Sunday in the China Agricultural University Gymnasium (CAG).

For six straight years, Kaori Icho has won all but one gold medals in the 63kg freestyle, including the Athens Games in 2004. As a model of consistency, she almost made others to only compete for the silver in her speciality.

And her only loss during the period was in the 2007 Asian Championships where she finished eighth and Chinese Xu Haiyan became the eventual winner.

Other contenders include Yelena Shalygina of Kazakhstan who lost to Icho in the final of the 2007 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Silver medalist in the 2006 World Championships, host wrestler Xu Haiyan also harbored the chance to win a medal. Xu defeated Shalygina in the 2006 Doha Asiad and won the 2007 Asian Championships.

American Sara McMann, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist, didn't make her trip to Beijing as she was defeated by Randi Miller in the domestic trial. Miller is competing for her first world-level event.

Lise Legrand of France, bronze medalist in Athens, also has her chance to win a second Olympic medal in Beijing after placing fifth at the 2007 World Championships. She placed third in 67kg class at the European Championships this year.

In the women's 72kg category, Kyoko Hamguchi of Japan and Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria are the best hopefuls to meet in the final.

Zlateva won the last two world championships, beating Hamaguchi in the final in 2006. She continued her impressive performance into 2008 by winning the 2008 European Championships.

Five-time world champion Hamguchi suffered a surprising defeat in the Athens Games where she was defeated by Chinese Wang Xu in the semifinal and finished with a bronze medal.

She even slipped to ninth in the 2007 world championships, before winning the 2008 Asian title, a sign that she is coming back.

For the Beijing Games, defending champion Wang Xu, 23, was dropped during the Chinese team selection and was replaced by younger Wang Jiao.

Her 1.77-meter height made Wang Jiao the tallest women wrestler in the Beijing Olympics. Last year, Wang Jiao won both titles at the Good Luck Beijing and the World Junior Championships.

Source: Xinhua

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