Pirozhkova comes up short after Murderer’s Row competition at World Championships

Updated: September 12, 2014

Just getting to the 163-pound gold medal match in women’s freestyle on Friday was big for Elena Pirozhkova even though the American had already proven she could win a World championship.

To reach the championship bout in this year’s Worlds, hosted by United World Wrestling (formerly FILA), Pirozhkova — who was ranked No. 3 — had to beat four other women in her side of the bracket who were also ranked in the Top 10.

Unfortunately, the native of Massachusetts — who emigrated with her family from Russia when she was three — had little gas left when it came to her gold-medal meeting with No. 5 Yulia Tkach of Ukraine and lost 4-2 in the final championship match of the women’s freestyle tournament held on Day 5 of the World Championships.

“I gave it all I had in this tournament,” Pirozhkova told TheMat.com. “A lot of what we’ve been working on in practice is working for me. There were some positives that came out of this. I just didn’t come out with the final result I wanted in the finals.”

Elena Pirozhkova (right) lost to Ukraine's Yulia Tkach but left Uzbekistan as a four-time World medalist. (Bob Mayeri image)

Elena Pirozhkova (right) lost to Ukraine’s Yulia Tkach but left Uzbekistan as a four-time World medalist. (Bob Mayeri image)

Tkach, who lost to Pirozhkova, 8-2, at the Golden Grand Prix in Azerbaijan this past July, scored the match’s first takedown on a single 53 seconds into the match. Priozhkova struggled to penetrate Tkach’s defense but got a good opportunity to score when the Ukrainian was placed in a passivity shot clock with 1:30 left. Even though the American would have earned one point for not allowing a takedown, she attacked Tkach’s left leg but could not hold on, which allowed Tkach to counter the move for a 4-0 lead with 1:13 left.

Pirozhkova finally scored a takedown on an inside trip with 35 seconds left and nearly put Tkach on her back … but finally had to accept her second silver-medal finish and fourth all-time World medal. In addition to winning a World championship in 2012, Pirozhkova claimed a silver medal in 2010 and a bronze medal in 2013.

“I’m heartbroken for Elena,” U.S. National Team coach Terry Steiner told TheMat.com. “She had a very tough draw and wrestled great to get to the finals. She gave great effort all day today and had a good tournament. This one stings, but she can build from this going into next year and into the Olympic year.”

Before the championship match, Pirozhkova won four matches by a combined 16-9 margin.

In her first match, the American avenged a 2012 Olympics loss to No. 1-ranked Anastasia Grigorjeva of Latvia, 5-4. In round two, Pirozhkova scored a takedown with five seconds left to beat No. 7 Battsetseg Soronzonbold of Mongolia, 6-4. In the quarterfinals, she defeated No. 9 Danielle Lappage of Canada, 2-1, before blanking No. 10 Monika Michalik of Poland, 3-0.

Overall, the United States finished with three medals — after Adeline Gray won a gold medal and Helen Maroulis claimed a bronze — and third in the team race (with 41 points) behind Japan (55) and Russia (48).



2014 World Championships
Sept. 8-14
Gymnastics Palace, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Medal Matches of Women’s freestyle

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold Medal — Yulia Tkach (Ukraine) dec. Elena Pirozhkova (USA), 4-2

Bronze Medal — Valeriia Lazinskaya (Russia) pinned Henna Johansson (Sweden), 5:18

Anastasia Grigorjeva (Latvia) dec. Monika Michalik (Poland), 5-1
U.S. Results in Women’s freestyle on Sept. 12

63 kg/138.75 lbs. – Elena Pirozhkova, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC)
Defeated Anastasia Grigorjeva (Latvia), 5-4
Defeated Battsetseg Soronzonbold (Mongolia), 6-4
Defeated Danielle Lappage (Canada), 2-1
Defeated Monika Michalik (Poland), 3-0
Lost to Yulia Tkach (Ukraine), 4-2, in gold-medal match