By Gary Anderson

Triple Olympic champion Kaori Icho is one of four Japanese wrestlers to top the female world rankings list ©United World WrestlingFour female Japanese wrestlers top to their respective categories in the 2014 United World Wrestling rankings after impressive performances at this year's World Championships and Asian Games.

The sport's world governing body has released the end-of-year rankings for the eight female categories and Japan leads the way in half of them.

Eri Tosaka and Saori Yoshida ended their 2014 campaigns in style in Incheon by adding Asian Games gold to their world titles.

Tosaka overcame China's Sun Yanan in the 48 kilogram final to take gold in Incheon to follow up retaining her title at the World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, last month.

Yanan ends the year at number two in the world followed by Poland's Iwona Matkowska, who lost out to Tosaka in the World Championship decider.

Yoshida secured her 12th consecutive world crown in Tashkent and the three-time Olympic gold medallist followed that up by demonstrating her total dominance of the 53kg class by winning Asian Games gold with victory over Mongolia's Sündeviin Byambatseren in the final.

Sweden's Sofia Mattsson sits second on the overall rankings after going down to Yoshida in the World Championship final, while a bronze in Incheon helped Zhong Xuechun end the year as the third best wrestler in the division.

Olympic and world champion Saori Yoshida remains one of the biggest stars in female wrestling after winning a 12th world title this year ©Getty ImagesOlympic and world champion Saori Yoshida remains one of the biggest stars in female wrestling after winning a 12th world title this year ©Getty Images

Three-time Olympic champion Kaori Icho tops the 58kg division after picking up world title number nine in Tashkent with a 10-0 technical fall win over Valeria Koblova.

The Russian finishes the year behind Icho on the rankings followed by former European champion Anastassia Huchok of Belarus who secured bronze in the Uzbek capital.

Reigning Universiade champion Chiho Hamada also inflicted defeat on a Russian opponent in the 55kg World Championship decider to pick up her first world title at senior level and top the rankings.

Her vanquished opponent Irina Ologonova lies second on the end of year list while American Helen Maroulis' bronze medal victory over Katarzyna Krawczyk of Poland helped her to third.

Maroulis' compatriot Adeline Gray is the top-ranked wrestler in the heaviest 75kg division.

Gray defeated Brazilian Aline Ferreira to win her second world title last month, a result that helped Ferreira to third on the overall rankings list.

Asian Games gold medallist Zhou Feng ends the year as the second-best ranked athlete after an impressive win over Kazakhstan's Guzel Manyurova in Incheon.

Germany's Aline Focken became the first world champion from her country in 12 years when she powered to victory over Sara Dosho in the 69kg category.

Her run to victory in Tashkent included a semi-final win over reigning Olympic champion Natalia Vorobieva of Russia who sits third on the world rankings list behind Dosho.

German Aline Focken (red) tops the 69kg category after winning World Championship in Tashkent ©AFP/Getty ImagesGerman Aline Focken (red) tops the 69kg category after winning World Championship in Tashkent ©AFP/Getty Images

Tserenchimed Sukhee of Mongolia and Ukrainian Yulia Tkach top the 60kg and 63kg rankings respectively after also becoming first-time world champions last month.

Sukhee became Mongolia's second-ever world champion in female wrestling by defeating Yulia Ratkevich of Azerbaijan impressively.

Ratkevich's run in Tashkent leaves her second on the rankings list ahead of Bulgarian Taybe Yusein who picked up World Championship bronze.

Meanwhile, Tkach returned from a year out on maternity leave to secure her maiden world title with a win over 2012 world champion Elena Pirozhkova of the United States who also follows her in the end of year standings.

Latvian Anastasija Grigorjeva is ranked a third-best in the world in the division.

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