To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


   HALKIDA, Greece (November 2) - Asian Games gold medalists Saori Yoshida and Kyoko Hamaguchi stormed into the quarterfinals of the women's world championships with a pair of pins over reigning European champions.

 Yoshida whipped Ukraine's Tatyana Lazareva onto her back for a fall at 1:17 at Tassos Kabouris Stadium and then came back with a 10-1 win over Minerva Montero of Spain to book her berth in the quarterfinals at 55 kg.

 Hamaguchi, meanwhile, chipped away against Russia's continental champion Svetlana Martinenko and built up a 9-0 lead before applying the final squeeze at 4:07 in their 72-kg preliminary bout. Hamaguchi, a former three-time world champion who has failed to reach the finals of the world meet the last two years, secured her place in the quarters with a 5-1 victory over Maider Unda of Spain.

 Japanese wrestlers breezed through the first day of the two-day championships, winning 12 of 14 matches in the preliminary rounds and advancing to the quarterfinals in five of the seven weight categories.

 Asian Games silver medalist Kaori Icho notched two falls at 63 kg, needing the second pin to overcome a three-point deficit against American Sara McMann.
"I was getting worried (after falling behind), so when I had the chance for the pin I thought this might be my only chance,'' the 18-year-old Icho said after pinning McMann at 2:48 of their pool preliminary.

 Kaori's older sister Chiharu Icho also had a tough match against an American opponent, dropping world silver medalist Stephanie Murata to her back in the final 20 matches of their 51-kg bout for a 4-1 victory.

 The elder Icho advanced to the championship bracket with a win by injury default over Marta Wojtanowska of Poland after a tight waist grip proved to be too painful for the 1999 European champion.

 Rena Iwama, a world silver medalist in 2000, earned Japan's fifth spot in the quarters by defeating Lauren Lamb of the United States 4-0 at 59 kg and then slapping a pin on Dashjanchiv Bottsetseg on Mongolia at 1:04.

 In the lightest weight category, national team newcomer Mika Noguchi held on for a 6-4 win at last year's world bronze medalist Brigitte Wagner of Germany at 48 kg. Noguchi, however, suffered Japan's only loss of the morning session when she dropped a one-sided 6-1 decision to China's Li Hui.
Wagner came back with a pin over Li in the evening session to advance to the second day of wrestling.

 Also for Japan, Norie Saito earned a 10-0 technical fall win over Geta Buliga of Romania in her first match at 67 kg, but could not keep up with French European champion Lise Legrand and fell short of the quarters with a 7-0 loss.