Nigeria's Odunayo Adekuoroye

African Games gold medalist Odunayo Adekuoroye has been seeded number three in the women’s 57kg of freestyle for the 2019 United World Wrestling (UWW)-organised World Championship holding in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan from 14 September to 22, 2019.

The 2017 World Championship silver medallist is the only Nigerian seeded in the tournament and she had to upstage reigning European champion Bulgaria’s Bilyana Dudova who will miss the World Championships over health issues.

Despite sharing same points (62) with the Bulgarian, Adekuoroye will be competing at the tournament as number three seed.

China’s Rong Ningning is the top seed and she maintained her grasp on the weight’s No.1 ranking. This season, the Chinese star has been undefeated and she also claimed titles at the Asian Championships, Klippan Lady Open and the Dan Kolov.

Norway’s Grace Bullen who finished in fifth place at last year’s World Championships comes into Nur-Sultan as the second seed. She is the only wrestler to defeat top-seeded Rong since the Chinese wrestler won her Budapest world title. Bullen, who lost to Rong in the Budapest world semifinals, 12-2, exacted her revenge on her Chinese rival in the U-23 world finals. She scored a late four-point throw in the closing seconds of the finals and reached the top of the world podium for the first time in her career.

According to UWW, in 2017, Adekuoroye, also known as the “Dancing Queen,” joined Marwa Amri of Tunisia as the first women from the continent of Africa to reach a gold-medal bout at the World Championships. She fell in the 2017 world finals and finished in ninth place at the 2018 World Championships.

The Nigerian got back to her winning ways since that ninth-place finish last season. This year, Adekuoroye won her fifth African title and a gold medal at the Yasar Dogu. She also capped off the Dan Kolov with a bronze medal — only dropping her semifinals match to Rong, 6-4.

Also, UWW has confirmed Nigeria and 99 other countries that will compete for honours at the World Championship with the top six in each weight category securing their places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

Adekuoroye, Blessing Oborududu (68), Aminat Adeniyi (57kg), Blessing Onyebuchi (76kg) and Mercy Genesis (50kg) have been confirmed as Nigeria’s female representatives while John Emmanuel (74kg) is the only male Nigerian wrestler heading to Kazakhstan.

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