To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


  NEW YORK (September 14) - Japan turned in the most dominating performance in the history of women’s wrestling on September 14, winning five of the seven gold medals up for grabs at the freestyle wrestling world championships.

  It was Japan’s best showing since 1994, when six Japanese wrestlers won nine of the weight categories contested at the seventh world championships. But, with only seven weights being contested in New York, this year’s Japanese team posted a better percentage of gold medals to weight categories (71.4% to 66.7%) when compared to the 1994 squad.

  Kyoko Hamaguchi capped the Japanese gold rush at Madison Square Garden with her fifth world title as Japan went 5-for-5 in the women’s championship finals. Hamaguchi’s victory moved her into a tie with China’s legendary heavyweight Liu Dongfeng for fifth place on the all-time list of most decorated female wrestlers with five gold medals and a bronze. Christine Nordhagen of Canada tops the list with six world championships, a silver and a bronze, followed by Japan’s Yayoi Urano (6-1-0), who was instrumental in Hamaguchi’s early development as a wrestler.

  Meanwhile, Seiko Yamamoto won her fourth world title -- this time at 59 kg -- to surpass older sister Miyu’s three golds and a silver at the world championships and move into 11th on the all-time list compiled by the FILA Database in Leipzig, Germany. Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho repeated as world champions at 55 and 63 kg, respectively, while Chiharu Icho improved on her silver medal performance in Greece a year ago with the championship at 51 kg.
The Icho’s also became the first pair of sisters to win world titles in the same year.

  To further add to the elation of Japanese wrestling officials and fans, three of Japan’s triumphs came at weight categories to be contested next year in Athens, where women’s wrestling will be making its Olympic debut. The Olympic weight categories for women are 48, 55, 63 and 72 kg. In the team competition, the United States tied Japan with 62 points after all seven of the American entries won medals (1-4-2), but Japan took home the championship trophy with more gold medals (5-0-0).

  Japan’s other two entries -- Makiko Sakamoto (48 kg) and Norie Saito (67 kg) -- had to settle for fifth place finishes after early losses.Russia finished in third place with 45 points, followed by China (33), Ukraine (27) and Canada (24).


NEW YORK (September 14) - Results of matches involving the Japanese wrestlers the gold medal finals of the freestyle wrestling world championships at Madison Square Garden:

Women’s freestyle
51 kg - ICHO, Chiharu (1st, 18 entries)
1R - bye
2R - df. Emese Szabo, Hungary by fall, 1:55 (4-0)
3R - df. Alexandra Demmel, Germany by TF 11-0, 5:41
SF - df. Alena Kareisha, Belarus by TF 10-0, 4:22
F1 - df. Natalia Karamchakova, Russia 3-0
(Note: Icho scored takedowns late in the first and second periods against the European champion to avoid the mandatory clinches and claim her first world championship crown.)
55 kg - YOSHIDA, Saori (1st, 29 entries)
1R - bye
2R - df. Olga Serbina, Belarus by TF 10-0, 4:16
3R - df. Kitti Godo, Hungary by fall, 0:38 (3-0)
Q1 - df. Monika Michalik, Poland by fall, 0:20 (0-4)
QF - df. Jennifer Ryz, Canada by TF 10-0, 2:51
SF - df. Natalia Golts, Russia 3-2
F1 - df. Tina George, U.S. 5-2
(Note: Unlike the runaway win over George in the final a year ago, Yoshida and her American rival wrestled evenly until the middle of the second period. Yoshida spun around behind for a 3-2 lead at 4:40 and then pulled away with a pair of low singles for her second title.)
59 kg - YAMAMOTO, Seiko (1st, 14 entries)
1R - df. Huang Yu-ning, Chinese Taipei by fall, 1:09 (9-0)
2R - bye
3R - df. Emily Richardson, Canada 10-1
SF - df. Marianna Sastin, Hungary 8-2
F1 - df. Natalia Ivashko, Russia 4-0
(Note: Yamamoto dropped the Russian veteran to her back from a front headlock to end the first period with a 3-0 lead. Adding another point early in the second period, Yamamoto wrestled tactically and effectively frustrated Ivashko’s attempts to score.)
63 kg - ICHO, Kaori (1st, 27 entries)
1R - bye
2R - df. Agoro Papavasileiou, Greece by fall, 1:45 (10-0)
3R - df. Christiana Renee LeGrand, France 4-0
QF - df. Volha Khilko, Belarus by fall, 3:37 (7-0)
SF - df. Lyudmila Golovchenko, Ukraine 4-0
F1 - df. Sara McMann, U.S. 4-3, 8:20
(Note: Icho spun around behind a takedown attempt by McMann late in overtime to avenge a loss to the American in Sweden last March. In a seesaw battle, McMann scored in the final 10 seconds of regulation to force overtime and was leading on criteria (fewer calls for passivity) when Icho scored with her takedown counter.)
72 kg - HAMAGUCHI, Kyoko (1st, 23 entries)
1R - df. Svetlana Sayenko, Ukraine 3-0
2R - df. Sonika Kalirman, India by fall, 1:43 (9-1)
3R - bye
QF - df. Edyta Witkowska, Poland 4-0
SF - df. Stanka Zlateva Hristova, Bulgaria 4-2
F1 - v. Toccara Montgomery, U.S. 4-1
(Note: After trading takedowns in the first period, Hamaguchi edged ahead with a takedown early in the second period. With less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Hamaguchi forced a passivity call on Montgomery and muscled the Pan American champion over for the decisive two points.)