ALBERTA

Record-setting day for Japan's Saori Yoshida at women's wrestling worlds

09/28/2012 10:43 EDT | Updated 11/28/2012 05:12 EST
SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. - All eyes turned to Japan's Saori Yoshida at the women's wrestling world championships Friday.

Yoshida, coming off a third Olympic gold medal, ran her string of consecutive international championship wins to 13 by pinning Helen Maroulis of the U.S. in the second round of the 55-kilogram gold-medal match to capture her 10th senior world title.

Yoshida also ran her string of consecutive international championship wins to 13, surpassing the record of 12 held by former Greco-Roman wrestler Alexander Karelin of Russia.

"I am very happy that I could surpass the record," the 29-year-old Yoshida said through an interpreter. "I'm very, very pleased. It is difficult to express. I'm very happy.

"I started wrestling at three years old, but it definitely feels worthwhile to have spent my life doing (this). It is very rewarding."

Canada's best chance at a medal on the second day of the three-day competition came in the same 55-kilogram class, with Brittanee Laverdure of Williams Lake, B.C., advancing through to one of the bronze-medal matches.

But Laverdure got behind early and lost out on a podium position to Greece's Maria Prevolaraki.

"It's always nice to finish off a tournament with a medal so when you have that chance to come away with one its disappointing," Laverdure said. "I just let her get the body position in me. I knew she was a defensive wrestler and I played into that game too much."

Meanwhile, Leah Callahan of Saint John, N.B., who represented Canada at the London Olympics, was scheduled to compete in the 72-kilogram division but failed to make weight and was forced to withdraw.

"Tough experience, but trusting in the journey of it all," Callahan posted on Twitter.

"It's disappointing," Canadian senior women's national coach Leigh Vierling said. "I don't want to say it is OK, but it's not the end of the world either. The hard part is she had a huge buildup going into the Olympics and took a break off the mat afterwards.

"She was prepared to wrestle here and it didn't happen. It's frustrating for me and I'm sure just as frustrating for her."

Callahan's spot was taken by Victoria's Stacie Anaka, who lost her opening match to Germany's Maria Selmaier.

Canada had a successful opening day to the event Thursday with medals in two of the three divisions.

Jessica MacDonald of Windsor, Ont., who lost out to two-time Olympic medallist Carol Huynh at the Olympic Trials earlier this year, bounced back in a big way in her latest opportunity, defeating Yunan San of China to win gold in the 51-kilogram weight category.

Canada also came away with a silver medal in the 67-kilogram class as 19-year-old Dorothy Yeats of Montreal lost out in the final to Adeline Gray of the U.S.

Yeats was coming off a gold medal performance at the junior women's worlds three weeks ago.

The only other Canadian competitor on the first day was Hamilton's Michelle Fazzari, who lost her preliminary match at 59 kilograms to an opponent from Mongolia.

The world championships usually include the men's events, but only the women compete in Olympic years because four of the seven weight classes contested at worlds are included at the Games.

This is the first time Canada has played host to the event and only the second time it has been held in North America, the other being in New York in 2003.

The world championships wrap up on Saturday with the 48-kilogram and 63-kilogram divisions.

Notes: Other recent host cities for the worlds have included Istanbul, Moscow, Tokyo and Budapest. ... Sherwood Park beat out bids from China and France to host the event.

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