To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


SOFIA (Bulgaria) - Kyoko Hamaguchi slumped to the mat.  Her bid to regain the 75-kg world championship crown undone in a 3-1 semifinal loss to European champion Edyta Witkowski of Poland. And then, things got worse.  In the final for third place, Hamaguchi fell to Germany's Nina Englisch in a head-lock and was sent home without a medal.

    In both losses,
Hamaguchi was done in by the clinch rule which was first instituted in 1998.  The former three-time world champion was thrown in both cases and while she avoided being pinned by Witkowska, the points were enough to give the eventual world champion a 4-1 victory.  Against Englisch, the match ended with one sweeping move toss that led to the fall.

    Since the clinch rule for women was instituted last year,
Hamaguchi and her coaches were not overly concerned about the development since she always scored in the first period and then breezed to victory.  Her awkwardness in the clinch in Sofia, however, revealed a lack of strategy and a lack of practice in the situation.

Hamaguchi, who has not lost a match by fall since the 1995 national championships in Japan, was disheartened.  But, after a long talk with her father Heigo "Animal" Hamaguchi, she was itching to get going again.  For an hour, Hamaguchi was doing push-ups and running and was already looking ahead to next year's matches.

    Men's freestyle head coach
Hideaki Tomiyama sympathized with Hamaguchi, who was disappointed with failing to win a world championship for a second straight year. Tomiyama, after all, was the world champion in 1979 and had his hopes for an Olympic gold medal dashed by the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.  In the three years that followed, Tomiyama failed to stand on the top of the medals podium at a world meet. Tomiyama, however, overcame his championship drought with a gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. "The goal is the Olympics. There is no reason to be disappointed and lose interest when one is looking ahead to competing in the Olympics for the first time," Tomiyama said. "I hope (Hamaguchi) will think that 'It's good I lost here,' when its all over."