Updated: Saturday, 21st September 2019 @ 6:10am

Manchester wrestler Olga Butkevych banishes Olympic misery to claim first-ever World Championships medal

Manchester wrestler Olga Butkevych banishes Olympic misery to claim first-ever World Championships medal

By Matt Davies

Manchester-based wrestler Olga Butkevych has become the first British woman to win a medal at the World Championships.

The Ukrainian-born wrestler bounced back from the disappointment of the London 2012 Olympics by claiming bronze, defeating Japan’s Kyoko Shimada 5-2.

Butkevych competed for Team GB in the summer before finishing in a lowly 11th place.

British Wrestling Chairman Malcolm Morley told BBC Sport post-Olympics: “Olga’s performance in the games was somewhat disappointing but she did her best under difficult and not always ideal circumstances.”

Following the Olympics, the sport had come in for criticism over the funding that it had received, and led to a major shake-up in the coaching system.

Performance director Shaun Morley – the son of Chairman Malcolm Morley – resigned, and coach Nikolai Kornieiev failed to have his contract renewed.

As Great Britain’s sole representative at the Games, Butkevych lost in the first round to Ecuador’s Lissette Alexandra Antes Castillo, finishing 11th out of 19 in the overall standings.

Butkevychs’ victory in Edmonton, Canada this week, makes up for her Olympic struggles and helps to partially justify the quantity of money provided for wrestling in Great Britain.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Shaun Morley said: “This is a fantastic achievement and should not be under estimated.

“She was in a really tough half of the draw. Had she been in the other half, I’d say she might even have gone all the way to the gold medal match.”

UK Sport is set to meet in December to discuss the sports that failed to meet performance targets, with a cut to funding for wrestling in the run up to Rio 2016 likely.

 

A UK Sport spokesperson said: “Ahead of our investment decisions for the Rio cycle, which will be made in December, Olympic and Paralympic sports, including British Wrestling, will present their case for investment.

 

“Performance results over the past four years will form part of this, however our investment decisions, and our continued support of sports through the Rio cycle, will also be based on the extent to which the sports can demonstrate a clear vision of the core components of their programme, such as the athletes, their system and their ability to sustain or improve performance in the future.”

 

Butkevychs’ bronze medal is the second of her career while competing for Great Britain, after she won bronze at the European Championships in Dortmund (Germany) in 2011.

Finishing third at the World Championships finally allows Butkevych to achieve one of her targets set prior to the Olympics, when she stated: “I want to give back something. You gave me the chance to wrestle, I want to give you a medal and show you it was worth it.”

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