To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


  TASHKENT (March 14) - Masatoshi Toyota capped his Olympic qualification run Sunday with a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over 2002 world champion Gaidar Mamedaliev of Russia. Toyota qualified for this summer's greco-roman wrestling event at the Athens Olympics with a 3-2 overtime win over 1992 Olympic champion Oleg Kutscherenko in the quarterfinals at 55 kg earlier in the day.

  Shingo Matsumoto also qualified for the Athens Games with a quarterfinal win at 84 kg. Matsumoto took third place with a fall against Vladislav Metodiev of Bulgaria.

  In Sunday's finals, Toyota lost three points to Mamedaliev after being thrown from the clinch to start the second period. The Tokyo police officer, however, forced a passivity call and converted with a reverse waistlock and back-arching throw for five points and the win.

  "To be honest, I didn't think I could win. I was only sure about the
win after I made the throw for five points," Toyota said. "When I got the passivity call that led to the reverse waistlock, I made eye contact with (Japan Wrestling Federation) President Fukuda and he showed me that he knew I could do it. I'm happy that I could answer his confidence in me."

  Matsumoto, meanwhile, was disappointed that he didn't make it to the finals at 84 kg, but added "The first thing was making it into the Olympics." Regarding his quarterfinal win against 1999 world champion Luis Mendez of Cuba, Matsumoto said "When I knew that I would have to face Mendez again (after losing to him two weeks ago), I decided that absolutely I was going to win this time."

  "Not being able to wrestle in the Sydney Olympics was a bitter memory. But, my goal is not just to wrestle in the Olympics. I want to win a medal," Matsumoto added.

  In the semifinals, Toyota defeated India's Mukesh Katri by injury default after building up a 7-0 lead while Matsumoto lost 4-1 to Armenia's Levon Geghamyan, who finished fourth in the 2002 world championships.