To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


  TOKYO (JULY 1) - The Japan Wrestling Federation’s plans to hold a training camp in Rome prior to the opening of the women’s wrestling competition at the Athens Olympics were cancelled over difficulties in arranging a practice site. The Japanese women will hold their final training camp at the national training center in Tokyo from August 6 before leaving for Athens on August 12.

  Five-time world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi is scheduled to be the Japanese delegations flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the Games on August 13. Hamaguchi and her three teammates -- Chiharu Icho, Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho -- will make their final preparations in Athens for the debut of women’s wrestling in the Olympic Games.

  Each of Japan’s entries in women’s wrestling is widely considered a leading contender for the gold medal at her weight category. Japan’s nine entries in freestyle and greco-roman, meanwhile, will take part in the opening ceremony and then make their final preparations in Hungary.


  TOKYO (July 2) - The Olympic Council of Asia decided to restore women’s wrestling to the 2006 Asian Games in Qatar’s capital city of Doha, Japanese Olympic sources reported. Women’s wrestling was not originally included on the program for the
games in Doha because of the nation’s Islamic beliefs.

  FILA, however, requested that women’s wrestling be included in the continental version of the Olympic Games. Weight categories and the type of uniforms to be allowed have not been decided. Also, the OCA decided to award the 2010 Asian Games to the Chinese city of Guangzhou.


  OSAWANO, Toyama (July 2) - Japan’s four entries in the first women’s Olympic wrestling competition took a break from training to strengthen their determination in the chilly waters of the waterfall at Oiwasan nissekiji Temple.

  Kyoko Hamaguchi, Saori Yoshida and the Icho sisters, Chiharu and Kaori, each braved the chilly waters (about 10 C/50 F) in the pool beneath the 7-meter waterfall near the temple. They then went through the ritual purification of their spirits by standing beneath the cascading water. “I shed all the negative thoughts and desires and focused on my goal,” Kyoko Hamaguchi said. “I’m ready for Athens, filled with determination.”

  “The water pounding on the back of my neck really hurt -- more than trying to stop an opponent’s takedown,” Saori Yoshida said. “It has tempered my body and my spirit.”

  In addition to the waterfall purification, the four women also had a chance to try their hands at ceramics and made an appeal to the Buddhist god of fire Fudomyo at the temple.


  TOKYO (JULY 7) - Japan’s freestyle and greco-roman entries at the Athens Olympics underwent Zen training as part of their preparation for the August 133-29 Games.

  The five freestyle and four greco-roman wrestlers called on the Tokyo headquarters of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony for a session with the traditional Japanese discipline as well as zazen training. During the age of Warring States in the 14th century, Japanese warriors would practice tea ceremony as an exercise in calming their spirits before battle.

  The head of the Urasenke school, Mr Sengenshitsu, taught tea ceremony to the Japanese judo team before the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and hopes tranquility of the tea ceremony will also benefit the Japanese wrestlers in Athens. “I think positive results will occur if you have a tranquil spirit. Please take this tranquility with you to Athens,” said Mr Sengenshitsu, the 15th head master of the Urasenke school.


TOKYO (JULY 13) - Hitomi Sakamoto and Ayako Shoda won individual titles to lead the charge for a select non-student team from Japan at the Canada Cup freestyle competition in Guelph. Sakamoto won the women’s 51-kg title by fall over Lyndsay Belisle, Canada’s entry at 48 kg for the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens.

Shoda, meanwhile, recorded a pair of falls to take the women’s 63-kg title and was voted the outstanding foreign wrestler in the women’s competition. Eri Sakamoto added a third title for the Japanese women with a 4-1 victory over Stefanie Horowun at 67 kg.

In the men’s competition, Shinya Odate and Kiyofumi Kanabuchi claimed silver medals at 60 kg and 66 kg, respectively.

Results of Japanese entries:

Men, 55 kg - TOKUDOME, Akira (4th, 9 entries)
 1R - df. Brandon Eyer (CAN) by TF
 SF - lost to Maridid Robhary (IRI) by fall, 2:11
 C1 - won by TF (name not available)
 F3 - lost to Frank Mensah (CAN), 7-4

Men, 60 kg - ODATE, Shinya (2nd, 10 entries)
 R1 - df. Jesse Arnett (CAN) by TF
 R2 - df. Sabastian Jakobczyk (POL) by fall
 SF - df. Tayezi Behnam (IRI), 4-2
 F1 - lost to Yandro Quintana (CUB) by TF

Men, 66 kg - KANABUCHI, Kiyofumi (2nd, 10 entires)
 R1 - df. Evan MacDonald (CAN), 4-2
 R2 - df. David Kalverda (CAN) by TF
 SF - df. Ron Tarquinio (USA), 9-0
 F1 - lost to Aliafghar Dazri (IRI), 6-1

Men, 74 kg - NAGASHIMA, Kazuyuki (dnp, 16 entries)
 R1 - lost to Daniel Igali (CAN), 5-4
 C1 - lost to Danny Brown (CAN), 3-1

Men, 84 kg - SHIBATA, Hiroshi (5th, 8 entries)
 R1 - lost to Greg Parker (USA) by TF
 C1 - df. Jonathan Rioux (CAN), 6-5
 C2 - df. Carl Fronhoffer (USA), 7-6
 C3 - lost to Greg Parker (USA), 13-5
 F5 - df. Victor Sprenger (CAN), 7-6

Women, 51 kg - SAKAMOTO, Hitomi (1st, 8 entries)
 R1 - df. Keritin Condello (USA) by fall
 SF - df. Audrey Peng (CAN) by TF
 F1 - df. Lyndsay Belisle (CAN) by fall

Women, 55 kg - NAKANISHI, Hatsumi (2nd, 6 entries)
 SF - df. Laura McDougall (CAN) by fall
 F1 - lost to Tonya Verbeek (CAN) by TF

Women, 59 kg - WATANABE, Sayuri (3rd, 6 entries)
 R1 - df. Danielle Taylor (GBR) by fall
 SF - lost to Breanne Graham (CAN) by fall
 C1 - df. Justine Bouchard (CAN), 8-6
 F3 - df. Amy Dyck (CAN) by fall
Women, 63 kg - SHODA, Ayako (1st, 7 entries)
 SF - df. Viola Yanik (CAN) by fall
 F1 - df. Helen Hennick (CAN) by fall
 67 kg - SAKAMOTO, Eri (1st, 2 entries)
 F1 - df. Stefanie Howorun (CAN), 4-1


  TOKYO (July 20) - Kosei Akaishi has officially been registered as a coach for the Afghan wrestling team at the Athens Olympics, informed sources reported. Akaishi has been coaching Afghanistan’s entry to the Games, freestyle wrestler Bashir Ahmad Rahmati (55 kg), in Greece since the beginning of June.

  It will be Akaishi’s fifth trip to an Olympic Games. Akaishi won the silver medal at 62 kg at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, took 4th at 68 kg in Seoul and then claimed a bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Games. Akaishi was a national team coach for the Japanese squad at the Sydney Olympics four years ago.


  TOKYO (JULY 24) - The Japan Wrestling Federation held a send-off party for its Athens-bound Olympians after the Japanese Olympic delegation was officially launched on July 24. The men took a break from their training camp in Nagano while the women got a day off from their own camp in Niigata.

  JWF president Tomiaki Fukuda promised the wrestlers a bigger party after they take gold medals in Athens.


  TOKAMACHI, Niigata (July 28) - The Niigata mountain village of Tokamachi held a send-off party for Japan’s entries in female wrestling at the upcoming Athens Olympic Games. The delegation which included Japan’s coaches and wrestlers was greeted by nearly 300 citizens of Tokamachi with a large round of applause as they entered the hall where the party was being held. The team was presented with gifts of locally grown rice and a thousand paper cranes that had been folded by students at the local elementary and junior high school.

  Head coach Akira Suzuki promised that each of Japan’s four entries in the wrestling competition would return with a gold medal to show the citizens of Tokamachi.