Japan's Yoshida wins 16th combined world title
LAS VEGAS (AP) Japan's Saori Yoshida won her 16th world or Olympic freestyle title Wednesday night at the world wrestling championships.
The most decorated athlete in wrestling history, the 32-year-old Yoshida won her 13th title at worlds - to go with three Olympic golds in as many tries - by beating Sweden's Sofia Mattsson 2-1 at 53 kilograms (116.5 pounds).
Yoshida rallied after trailing 1-0 after the first period. She has only lost twice in international events, but that didn't stop her from breaking down after yet another world crown.
''I was very worried because everyone was chasing me,'' Yoshida said through a team translator as dozens of Japanese reporters swarmed around her. ''It was a good one.''
Yoshida's 22-year-old teammate, Erin Tosaka, won her third consecutive world title at 48 kilogram (105.5 pounds) by beating Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaijan 3-2 on a takedown with less than 10 seconds left.
Ukraine's Zhan Beleniuk won the 85-kilogram (187-pound) Greco-Roman title in dominant fashion. He flipped Uzbekistan's Rustam Assakalov to the mat for a four-point throw - a move wrestling officials would love to see more often - and won 6-0.
Natalia Vorobeva pinned Feng Zhou of China to win the 69-kilogram (152-pound) crown.
Though the American team is traditionally far better at men's freestyle than women's and Greco-Roman, the hope was that the home-mat advantage would help the U.S. get a head start on the Rio Olympics.
So far, the worlds have been a borderline disaster for the Americans.
Three days into the six-day meet, the U.S. has qualified for 2016 Olympic spots in just two of nine weights.
Alyssa Lampe, a two-time world medalist, was beaten 10-0 in the 48 kilogram quarterfinals.
Whitney Conder was defeated in her second match at 53 kilograms, and past world champion Elena Pirozhkova, ranked eighth entering the tournament, was beaten in the second round by Sweden's Jenny Fransson at 69 kilograms.
''I just felt great. I've had great training. It's just the little things that kind of got away from me throughout the match,'' Pirozhkova said.
Jordan Holm, the final American Greco-Roman wrestler to compete, scored just a point in his opening-round loss at 85 kilograms.
Thursday should produce better results for the Americans. Top-ranked Helen Maroulis leads the way at 55 kilograms (121 pounds), and Adeline Gray enters the 75-kilogram (158.5-pound) tournament ranked first as well.
Brent Metcalf will open the men's freestyle competition - by far the marquee event in world wrestling - ranked second to Iran's Sayed Ahmad Mohammadi at 65 kilograms (143 pounds). But Metcalf looks as if he'll have to survive a brutal draw simply to reach the final.
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