To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


  NEW DELHI (June 6) - World team veteran Kazuhiko Ikematsu rebounded from an opening day loss with three wins on Friday, the second day of the 16th Asian Wresting Championships, to earn a berth in the semifinals of the freestyle competition at 66 kg. Ikematsu's performance at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium gave the Japanese men a little something to cheer about as the Japanese women put three of their's into the first half of championship finals on Saturday evening.

  Ikematsu got his charge into the semifinals going Friday with a 6-0 victory over Sabit Kendybayev of Kazakstan in the final round of the preliminary pool competition. The victory nailed down second place in the pool and placed Ikematsu in the repechage group. In repechage, Ikematsu picked apart Kyrgyzstan's Tabaldiev Symenkul with one-point takedowns on his way to a 4-1 win over the former Asia junior champion.

  Ikematsu continued his purple patch of form against Uzbekistan's Urazimbetov Polot with quick double-leg takedowns and low singles and then added an exclamation point to his 9-1 triumph with a double-leg and lift for three points.

  On Saturday's semifinals, Ikematsu is scheduled to face Mongolia's Bayarmagnaj Norjin, the bronze medalist at last year's Asian Games.

  "Ikematsu was too tight in his opening match (a 5-3 loss to Korea's Kim Sung-Sil), but he's wrestling relaxed now and we're seeing what he can do," Japanese national freestyle coach Takahiro Wada said.

  Japan's other entry in the repechage matches, Mitsuhiro Ota forced a passivity call on Janar Kenjeev, but let the Kyrgyz wrestler step over his gut wrench attempt as he went down by fall at 84 kg in the greco-roman competition.

  In his second match, Ota battled 2001 Asia champion Bae Man-Ku evenly, but gave up a late gut wrench to the Korean in a 3-0 loss.

  The Japanese women, meanwhile, continued with their roll on the second day of the meet, putting two more into the finals. However, they were also saddled with their first loss of this year's competition.

  At 48 kg, Mika Noguchi, who injured her knee in an opening round victory on Thursday, wrestled tentatively against hometown favorite Kamini Yadav. She executed simple spin behinds for three points and was satisfied with a 3-1 win for a berth in the championship finals.

  Two-time Asia champion Ayako Shoda, meanwhile, was wary of the throws of Korea's Hang Jin Young, a former judoka, but picked away with single legs and gut wrenches to forge a 7-2 victory at 63 kg. Shoda's win made her the third Japanese woman in Saturday's gold medal matches along with Noguchi and Sayuri Tatemoto, who qualified for the final at 55 kg with two wins on Thursday.

  Also in the women's competition, Japan got a pair of falls each from Ninako Hattori (51 kg) and Rena Iwama (59 kg) as wrestling in the women's final four weight categories got under way.

  At 72 kg, however, Ayako Murashima was tripped to her back by Mongolia's Burmaa Ochirbat and pinned for Japan's first loss of the women's competition. Murashima was later pulled from the meet with a high fever and forfeited her scheduled second-round match with 2001 Asia champion Kang Min Jeong of Korea.

  On the men's side, world university champion Tomohiro Matsunaga overcame a 1-5 deficit with an inside trip and then a double-leg and lift to deny Mongolia's Enkhtur Badamgoikhan a chance for the finals at 55 kg with a 7-5 win. As wrestling got under way in the second half of the men's competition, Waseda University senior Kazuhiko Nagashima scored twice with his favored ankle lace to open with a 7-1 win over Phan Thanh Quyet of Vietnam.

  Kokushikan University freshman Tsukasa Tsurumaki weathered a physical match against Syria's Salan Gohlian Mohammad in greco-roman to come away with a 3-1 win at 74 kg. One of the points awarded to Tsurumaki was an unusual penalty point against the Syrian wrestler when he took off his shoes at the interval to chill a sore ankle and then did not tape the laces properly when he returned for the second period.

  Daishi Matsuo got rolling with a technical fall win at 60 kg in freestyle, turning Chuang Hsiu-wei of Chinese Taipei over at will for an 11-0 win in just 49 seconds.