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）
MIXED EMOTIONS FOR JAPAN ON 1ST DAY OF GR WORLD C'SHIPS
CRETEIL, France (October 2) - It was
a day of mixed emotions for Japanese wrestlers
and their faithful on the opening day of
the greco-roman world championships. Three
of Japan's four entries at Robert Oubron
Sports Hall posted impressive wins, but left
the arena in suburban Paris short of the
championship bracket and a chance to earn
a berth in next year's Olympic Games in Athens.
One of Japan's best hopes for a place in
the Olympics, Shingo Matsumoto unwittingly
foreshadowed Japan's emotions the previous
day at the weigh-in and draw for the competition.
Matsumoto drew two-time Olympic champion
Hamza Yerlikaya of Turkey for his opening
bout at 84 kg -- a wrestler he had yet to
defeat in three previous meetings.
"When I drew Yerlikaya, half of me was
thinking 'Alright!' while the other half
was thinking 'Oh no!'" Matsumoto said
later. For the Japanese team, the first day
was a mixed day of "Alright" along
with a solid dose of "Oh no!"
For Matsumoto, who spent two months touring
Europe this summer to improve his greco-roman
technique, it appeared that he was ready
to take his next step in his development.
Matsumoto successfully prevented Yerlikaya
from scoring his first time in the par terre
position and then blocked the two-time Olympic
champion from scoring with his trademark
reverse waistlock and lift.
But, just as he had stopped the lift, both
wrestlers toppled to the mat and the officiating
team awarded Yerlikaya two points for exposure.
Matsumoto attempted to turn the match around,
but could not get anything going over the
remainder of the match as he went down to
a 4-1 loss. "I came here with the idea
that I wanted to prevent (Yerlikaya) from
scoring with the reverse waistlock, but the
most important thing is to win, so basically
I'm rather disappointed," Matsumoto
The transport company employee came back
in the evening session for a technical win
over Vitaly Ogulev of Australia, only to
remark after "I'm really not satisfied.
I wanted to wrestle more than just two matches."
Meanwhile, Masatoshi Toyota opened with a
win at 55 kg, but could not break through
the tight defense of Korean rival Im Dae-Won.
Im, the bronze medalist at the Asian championships
in June, converted on a par terre chance
with a chest-high gut wrench and then went
on the defensive as Toyota tried unsuccessfully
to reverse a 4-0.
"I've known Im since we were both junior
wrestlers, so we know each other's wrestling
pretty well. But, not to score any points
is pretty pitiful," said Toyota, adding
that he would be back in the practice room
the next day.
At 66 kg, Masaki Imuro came out firing in
his first match and promptly took the first
point against Jannis Zamanouridis of Germany
with a body tackle. The muscular German,
however, turned the match around with a straddle-lift
and throw for four points and the win. In
the evening session, Imuro appeared headed
for his sixth straight loss in three trips
to the world championships when Ion Panait
of Romania scored five points with gut wrenches
in the first period.
Imuro, however, executed a perfect single-arm
throw that led to a pin and his first win
ever at the world championships. "It
hurts that I wasn't able to win a berth in
the Olympics, but it would have been more
painful to return home again without a win,"
the Self-Defense Forces member said.
This year's world championships are also
serving as the first phase of qualifying
for next year's Olympic Games in Athens.
The top 10 place-winners in each weight category
earn tickets to Athens. Japan's fourth entry
on the first day of competition, Katsuaki
Suzuki at 120 kg, could not defend against
his opponents' gut wrenches and went down
to a pair of one-sided losses.
"If you don't move underneath, you can't
defend against the foreign wrestlers,"
said Suzuki. "I thought I had done enough
to be able to defend against my opponents,
but I learned that I still have a long way