To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

By William May

(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports


   Olympic silver medalist
Katsuhiko Nagata could only manage an 11th place in the Pytlasinski international tourney August 10-12 in Wroclaw, Poland as the entire Japanese national team struggled in its tune-up for the world championships in September. Nagata, who won the silver medal at 69 kg at last year's Sydney Olympics, was the only Japanese wrestler to get through the elimination groups unbeaten.

   The former Tokyo police officer, however, lost in the first round of the championship tourney 3-0 to Ukraine's Rustam Adzi, an eighth-place finisher in Sydney, and had to settle for 11th place out of 35 entries at 69 kg.

Mitsuo Tomitani of the Japan Self Defense Forces posted a 2-1 record in the elimination group competition at 58 kg for Japan's best finish of the tourney, taking seventh out of 20 entries.

   After the competition, the Japanese team joined the Hungarian team for a 12-hour bus ride back to Budapest, where the two teams and France worked out together in a joint training camp.


   Japan suffered through a disappointing showing at the junior world championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on August 9-13 as only three wrestlers were able to advance beyond their elimination groups.

Seishito Shimizu (54 kg) and Tsuyoshi Sugawara (58 kg), both of Nippon Sports Science University, and Waseda University's Kazuyuki Nagashima (76kg) advanced to the quarterfinals after finishing on top of their respective elimination groups, but each went out in the first round of the championship tourney.

   In the greco-roman competition, Japanese wrestlers could only manage three wins in the elimination groups as the entire squad made an early exit.


   Defending champion
Saori Yoshida won her fourth straight age-group world title at the female junior world championships in Martigny, Switzerland on August 17-19 as three Japanese wrestlers claimed crowns and the team took second place overall. Yoshida of Chukyo Women's University in Nagoya won all four of her bouts at 58 kg to claim her second junior world championship to go along with the world titles she won in 1998 and 1999 at the cadet world championships.

Chiharu Icho of Toyo University won her second straight championship at 50 kg while Momoko Sera of Fukuoka University won the 43 kg title. Toyo's Airi Funatsu and Mimi Sugawara of Kokushikan University were bronze medalists for Japan at 46 kg and 68 kg respectively, but defending champion Ayako Shoda, also a senior world champion in 1999, failed to advance beyond her elimination group at 63 kg.


    Five-time world champion
Christine Nordhagen and the Canadian women's team arrive in Japan on August 15 for two weeks of training with the Chukyo Women's University club in Nagoya and the Japanese national team. The Canadian's held their first workout with the CWU club on August 16 and then went to the national team training camp in Tokamachi, Niigata Prefecture on August 21.

Nordhagen has won four world championship titles at 68 kg, but in 1999, lost to Kyoko Hamaguchi in a bid to win the crown at 75 kg in a battle of the world's top two "heavyweights" in women's wrestling. Nordhagen, however, gained revenge for her loss to Hamaguchi the year before by winning the 75-kg crown last year.

    The Canadian ace will be wrestling at 68 kg in this year's world championships in New York and for this reason, the two gladiators --
Nordhagen and Hamaguchi -- were looking forward to renewing their rivalry in camp.

    Meanwhile at camp, a special three-way wrestle-off was held to determine Japan's entry at 68 kg.
Mimi Sugawara, a bronze medalist in this year's Asian championships, prevailed on technical points after all three competitors finished with a win and a loss each. Sugawara won over Norie Saito but lost to Erii Sakamoto.

Sugawara is the daughter of 1976 Montreal Olympic bronze medalist at 68 kg Yasaburo Sugawara.


    Saitama high school teacher
Kazumasa Ito and Hachinohe Industrial University professor Yasuo Katsumura won titles in their respective divisions at the veterans world championships in Martigny, Switzerland on August 17-19.

    Ito took the gold medal at 63 kg for competitors in the 51-55 age group while
Katsumura won in the same weight category for wrestlers 56 years old and older.

Masaaki Hatta finished with the silver medal at 58 kg for the group over 56 years old and Osamu "Animal" Watanabe was second in the same age group at 63 kg. Watanabe was the world champion in 1962 and 1963 and claimed one ofJapan's five gold medals in wrestling at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the veterans' meet, however, Watanabe injured his leg in the semifinals and defaulted to Katsumura in the final.