To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


  TOKYO (December 23) --Olympic gold medalist Saori Yoshida won the women's 55-kg crown on the final day of the national championships Thursday and was awarded the Emperor's Cup as Japan's wrestler of the year.

  Yoshida forged a 2-0 (2-0, 1-0) win over Chikako Matsukawa in the women's finals at Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Tokyo for her third straight national championship title. Yoshida, who won the gold medal at the Athens Olympics in August, became the second woman to be awarded the Emperor's Cup. Seiko Yamamoto was
awarded the trophy in 2001. Kaori Icho, who also won a gold medal in Athens at the Olympic debut of women's wrestling, scored a ・-peat・at 63 kg while Olympic bronze medalist Kyoko Hamaguchi rolled to her ninth straight national championship.

  Hitomi Sakamoto, a former two-time world champion and FILA wrestler of the year, breezed to the women's title at 51 kg. Sakamoto's younger sister, Makiko, won the 48-kg crown Wednesday.

  In the men's competition, Kazuhiko Ikematsu (FS 66 kg) and Makoto Sasamoto (GR 60 kg), both fifth-place finishers in Athens, won handily at their respective weights and received the outstanding wrestler awards in freestyle and greco-roman. Olympic bronze medalist Kenji Inoue, however, fell to collegiate champion Takafumi Kojima in the freestyle 60-kg championship final.

Final day results:


60 kg (16 entries)
Championship final
Makoto Sasamoto df. Hideo Kitaoka by fall, 2:25
(Sasamoto wins 4th title in a row, 4th overall)

Makoto Sasamoto df. Michimoto Fukuma, 2-0 (1-0, 4-0)
Hideo Kitaoka df. Seitaro Matsumoto, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)

60 kg (16 entries)
Championship final
Takafumi Kojima df. Kenji Inoue, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
(Kojima wins 1st title)

Kenji Inoue df. Shigeki Ozawa, 2-0 (6-0, 3-0)
Takafumi Kojima df. Kenichi Yumoto by fall, 1:46
66 kg (16 entries)

Championship final
Kazuhiko Ikematsu df. Kiyofumi Kanabuchi, 2-0 (3-1, 1-0)
(Ikematsu wins 2nd straight title, 2nd overall)

Kazuhiko Ikematsu df. Tsuyoshi Sato, 2-0 (3-3, 1-0)
Kiyofumi Kanabuchi df. Masanori Sakamoto, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)

51 kg (12 entries)
Championship final
Hitomi Sakamoto df. Ninako Hattori, 2-0 (1-0, 3-0)
(Sakamoto wins 1st title in 4 years, 3rd overall)

Hitomi Sakamoto df. Yuko Motohashi by fall, 1:24
Ninako Hattori df. Yuri Kai, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
55 kg (7 entries)

Championship final
Saori Yoshida df. Chikako Matsukawa, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
(Yoshida wins 3rd straight title, 3rd overall)

Saori Yoshida df. Miho Shibata by fall, 0:36
Chikako Matsukawa df. Yu Sekine by fall, 3:57
63 kg (7 entries)

Kaori Icho df. Ayako Shoda, 2-0 (5-0, 2-0)
(Icho wins 3rd straight title, 3rd overall)

Kaori Icho df. Saki Kanazawa by fall, 0:35
Ayako Shoda df. Erika Matsukawa by fall, 1:13
72 kg (3 entries)

Round robin
Ayako Murashima df. Miki Tanaka, 2-0 ( 2-0, 2-0)
Kyoko Hamaguchi df. Miki Tanaka by fall, 0:38
Kyoko Hamaguchi df. Ayako Murashima, 2-0 (5-0, 6-0)
(Hamaguchi wins 9th straight title, 9th overall)