To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world
By William May
（Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public
Kyodo World Services, senior sports writer：firstname.lastname@example.org）
JAPANESE WOMEN WIN 3 IN SCHAUB INT'L
TOURCOING (France) - Japanese women won three titles at the
Schaub International in Tourcoing on January
19-20 and then edged past an up-and-coming
Germany team in a dual meet in Frankfurt
on January 22. Misato Shimizu (48 kg), newly
crowned national champion Ninako Hattori
(51) and former world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi
(72) won individual titles in Tourcoing,
while Ari Suzuki (63) grabbed a second place
for the Japanese select team.
Norie Saito (67) had to
settle for a fourth while Toyama high school
student Chikako Matsukawa (55) fell in the
In Frankfurt, Hamaguchi
overcame an early three-point deficit to
68-kg world bronze medalist Anita Schatzle
to earn a win in overtime at 72 kg and give
Japan a narrow 4-2 win over host Germany.
Suzuki, a runner-up in
the national championships in December, could
not wrestle in the dual meet because of a
chest injury, so Matsukawa moved up a weight
to earn a win at 63 kg and contribute to
the Japanese win. Hattori and Saito
also notched wins for Japan.
HAMAGUCHI STRIKES OUT ON HER OWN TO RECAPTURE
TOKYO - Kyoko Hamaguchi has struck out on her
own -- away from the comforting presence
of her father matside -- in her bid to regain
the world championship title that has eluded
her the last two years. The Schaub International
in Tourcoing, France on January 19-20 was
the debut for the newly independent Hamaguchi
and the former three-time world champion
(1997-1999) came away with the championship
at 72 kg.
Hamaguchi needed less
than a minute to register wins in each of
her three matches at 72 kg. And, while
the French meet is ranked alongside Sweden's
Klippan International as one of the premier
events in women's wrestling, attracting some
of the best competitors from around the world,
Hamaguchi's power put her far and away above
the rest of the field.
Still, reigning world
champion Edyta Witkowska of Poland, who defeated
Hamaguchi in the semifinals of the world
championships last November, did not enter
the meet -- to the disappointment of the
Hamaguchi and Japanese team and fans.
Despite her success in
France, Hamaguchi wore a dark expression
when she arrived back home on January 24.
Two days after the Schaub International,
Hamaguchi struggled for a win against a lighter
opponent in a dual meet between Japan and
Germany in Frankfurt. She was paired
with Anita Schatzle, who won the bronze medal
at 68 kg in the world meet, and was thrown
for three points by the upper-body specialist
early in the bout and had to labor to get
back into the match.
After being thrown, Hamaguchi
secured a front headlock a number times during
the remainder of the bout, but had difficulty
converting the situation for points as the
combatants went out of bounds or she lost
her advantage. Akira Suzuki, who managed
the Japanese select team in Europe, said
later "I think the match would have
developed differently if she had gotten one
point first by going around behind (from
the front headlocks). Instead, her
determination to get two points at once was
too strong and then she ended up with no
points at all."
Still, Hamaguchi was able
to grab some hard-earned points and forced
overtime with a third point in the final
five seconds of regulation. With that, the
advantage returned to Hamaguchi whose fundamental
strength is unsurpassed. Given the
chance to win, Hamaguchi wasted little time
scoring the deciding point to win.
"Hamaguchi is just
so much stronger than anyone else,"
Suzuki said after the match. It would
appear that the only concern facing Hamaguchi
is her inability to score points because
she becomes overly excited after she fall
behinds, and there is little to worry about
her tough match with a lighter opponent.
Thinking of it in another
way, however, no matter what difference in
physical strength there is, a wrestler is
not likely to win if he/she gets agitated
and is unable to carry out one's plan of
attack. Since first becoming the world champion,
Hamaguchi has had little experience in wrestling
from behind. For this reason, there
are a number of situations in which she is
uncertain about what to do.
Two years ago, in her
loss to Christine Nordhagen of Canada at
the world championships, this was precisely
the situation. She labored to come
back from an 0-4 deficit in the first period
to tie the match. But after falling
behind by a point in the second period, Hamaguchi
forgot herself, made a number of reckless
attempts to attack as the situation got worse
and worse and she lost 9-4.
"When I fell behind,
I came back by not giving up and keeping
up with my attack," Hamaguchi said after
the match. But, while this "Never
give up" attitude is important, it might
be better if a wrestler does not forget his/her
wrestling even when he/she falls behind.
Hamaguchi also needs to
gather actual match experience in the clinch
position since she had no chance to practice
the position prior to the world championships.
She lost in the semifinals and again in the
match for third place primarily because she
was unfamiliar with the clinch position.
"I wanted to wrestle more (at the Schaub
International). I'm kind of unsatisfied,"
a disgruntled Hamaguchi said after returning
"From now on, I want
to wrestle in as many foreign competitions
as I can even if I have to go alone.
Anywhere is okay, I want to enter high-level
tournaments and wrestle any wrestler, the
tougher the better."
Throughout her career,
Hamaguchi has been coached and advised and
seconded by her father, former pro wrestler
Heigo "Animal" Hamaguchi, like
a father and a daughter in a three-legged
race. But to become the true world
champion of women's wrestling, she has declared
her independence and plans to aggressively
pursue "musha shugyo," the practice
of warriors traveling to several places to
improve their skills.
With her sights set on
the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, the
desire to learn more techniques and strategy
continues to grow in Hamaguchi. Her solitary
quest to recapture the world championship
title is off to a strong start. (By Ikuo
Higuchi, translation by William May)
WOMEN'S WRESTLING BEING CONSIDERED FOR ASIAN
TOKYO - Women's wrestling may be added to the
program of this fall's Asian Games in Pusan
(Korea), according to a report to the Japanese
Olympic Committee (JOC) submitted January
11 by JOC president Tsunekazu Takeda.
Takeda, who also serves
as a vice president with the Olympic Council
of Asia (OCA), proposed that women's wrestling
be included in the Asian Games at an OCA
board meeting in Kuwait on January 8 and
was told that the organizing committee was
working toward that goal.
The Asian Games, the continental
version of the Olympic Games, is scheduled
to be held in the Korean port city from September
29 and October 14. Wrestling is scheduled
for October 1-9.