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Yui Susaki, Haruna Okuno and Yukako Kawai reach weight class finals at world championships


Yui Susaki, Haruna Okuno and Yukako Kawai secured berths in their women’s weight class finals at the World Wrestling Championships on Wednesday.

In her first 50-kg freestyle bout at Papp Laszlo Arena, the 19-year-old Susaki, the 48-kg world champion in 2017, needed just 1 minute, 30 seconds to defeat Romania’s Emilia Alina Vuc in a repeat of last year’s final.

She went on to beat Ritu Phogat of India 11-0 in the quarterfinals and earn a 10-0 technical fall over Oksana Livach of Ukraine in the semifinals, setting up a gold-medal clash against Rio Olympic silver medalist Mariya Stadnik of Azerbaijan.

“It’s going to be a tough match in the final. I’m desperate to take home that gold medal,” Susaki said.

In the 53-kg event, Okuno, the 55-kg champion last year, overcame a left elbow injury she sustained in the quarterfinal to outscore Poland’s Katarzyna Krawczyk 8-1 in the semifinal. Okuno’s final opponent will be American Sarah Ann Hildebrandt.

In the 62-kg class, Kawai came from behind to beat world champion Yuliia Tkach Ostapchuk of Ukraine 4-3 in the semifinals, and will face four-time world medalist Taybe Yusein of Bulgaria in the final.

Also for Japan, Ayana Gempei and Hiroe Minagawa clinched bronze in the women’s 65-kg and 76-kg categories, respectively. Gempei picked up her first senior world medal and Minagawa won by forfeit.