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) - Kazuhiko Ikematsu rebounded from a disappointing loss in the semifinals to claim the bronze medal at 66 kg at the freestyle wrestling world championships. Ikematsu defeated Pan American champion Serguei Rondon of Cuba 6-5 at Madison Square Garden to become the first Japanese medalist in the world championships since 1995.

The Asia No. 2 stepped over a gut wrench attempt by Rondon for a 6-4 lead late in their bronze medal bout and then held on for the win despite a “fleeing the hold” penalty. Japanese wrestlers have won medals at the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000, but the last medals won by Japan at the world championships were silver medals by Takahiro Wada (freestyle, 62 kg) and Hiroshi Kado (greco-roman, 48 kg) in 1995.

Earlier in the semifinal round, Ikematsu was overwhelmed 10-1 by European champion Irbek Farniev of Russia.

Meanwhile, all five Japanese women in the semifinals swept into the gold medal matches where Kyoko Hamaguchi will be seeking her fifth world title and Seiko Yamamoto will be trying for V4. The last time Japan had as many as five women in the championship finals was 1994, when there were nine weight categories and Japan won six gold medals.