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）
NEW YEAR GETS UNDER WAY WITH CAMPS, LECTURES
TOKYO (January 31) - Japan's newly crowned national champions
met the New Year with training camps at the
National Sports Science Center in Tokyo and
a series of motivational lectures at a seaside
resort in Chiba Prefecture. The men's national
teams in freestyle and greco-roman held their
training camp January 6-11 while the women's
squad convened their six-day camp on January
17. Both camps were the first meetings of
the national teams since the national championship
meet in December.
On January 19-20, the Japan Wrestling
Federation's leading hopes for winning a
medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens
met at the seaside resort of Katsuura, Chiba
Prefecture for a series of lectures by some
of Japan's most recent gold medal winners.
The retreat gave the wrestlers -- nine men
and eight women -- a chance to relax in the
spa and then listen to presentations by 1976
Montreal Olympic gold medalist Yuji Takada
(freestyle, 52 kg), Hideaki Tomiyama (1984
FS, 57 kg), Atsushi Miyahara (1984 GR, 52
kg) and Mitsuru Sato (1988 FS, 52 kg) talk
about their experiences on their own way
to winning the Olympic championship.
Tomiaki Fukuda, chairman of the board
of directors for the JWF, spoke about the
history of Japanese wrestling and its many
triumphs in the Olympics. He also noted that
half of Japan's gold medal winning wrestlers
went into the Olympics as unheralded entries,
stressing for the medal aspirants that anyone
has a chance to win in the Olympics. The
four gold medalist lecturers spoke about
their single-minded devotion to practice
and wrestling, advising the 2004 hopefuls
to "Learn to use techniques both left
and right," "Practice against the
strongest and most difficult opponents,"
and "Go to the strongest countries and
the countries with the strongest opponents
for overseas practice."
The men's national teams left for the
United States on January 29 while the women's
squad left for a tour of Russia and Germany
on January 28.
CADET TRIO WIN AT SCHAUB INT'L IN FRANCE
TOURCOING, France (January 18-19) - A trio of cadet wrestlers won their divisions
at the Schaub Women's International Tourney
in Tourcoing, France, but junior and senior
members of the Japanese team failed to place
in the top four of their weight categories.
Ai Maehara of the Chukyo Women's University
affiliate high school won the 49-kg crown
while high school teammate Mizuho Shibata
took the title at 52 kg. Mio Nishimaki of
Kansai University's first junior high school
won at 56 kg and helped Japan to the cadet
Japan's 10 relatively inexperienced
entries in the junior and senior competition,
however, could finish no higher than fifth
place as the team slumped to 12th place overall.
France won the team championship, followed
by Germany and the United States.
JOC RANKS 4 WOMEN FOR A-RANK OLYMPIC SUPPORT
TOKYO (January 8) - The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) named
four members of Japan's world champion women's
wrestling team to its elite-A category for
financial support leading up the 2004 Olympic
Games in Athens. World champions Kyoko Hamaguchi,
Kaori Icho and Saori Yoshida as well as world
silver medalist Chiharu Icho will each receive
a monthly stipend of 300,000 yen (about $2,500)
from the JOC to support their training in
preparation for the Olympics.
On the men's side, Asian Games champion
Shingo Matsumoto and bronze medalist Makoto
Sasamoto were named to the JOC's elite-B
category which entitles them to monthly support
of 150,000 yen (about $1,250). In assigning
Matsumoto to the B category, the JOC reasoned
that even though he had won the Asian Games
greco-roman gold medal at 84 kg, many of
the world's top wrestlers did not compete
in the regional version of the Olympics held
last October in South Korea.
Meanwhile, former world champions Seiko
Yamamoto and Hitomi Sakamoto were dropped
from the elite-A category after both wrestlers
failed to qualify for the national team and
the world championships in 2002.