To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world
By William May
（Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public
Kyodo World Services, senior sports writer：email@example.com）
TOYOTA, MATSUMOTO EARN OLYMPIC BERTHS
TASHKENT (March 14) - Masatoshi Toyota
and Shingo Matsumoto upended a pair of former
world champions Sunday to earn berths in
the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens this summer.Toyota
defeated 1992 Olympic champion Oleg Kutscherenko
in the quarterfinals, 3-2, at 55 kg while
Matsumoto stopped 1999 world champion Luis
Mendez of Cuba, 5-3, in the quarters at 84
At Yunus Abad Sports Center in Tashkent,
Toyota gave up an early two points on a gut
wrench to Kutscherenko, who won the gold
medal in Barcelona for the Unified Team (EUN)
made up of former republics of the SovietUnion.Kutscherenko
has wrestled for Germany since Barcelona.
Toyota, however, came back with a pair of
go-behind takedowns to level the score 2-2
at the end of regulation.
In the overtime clinch, Kutscherenko
gripped first and also released his grip
first as wrestling continued. The wily veteran
attempted to drive Toyota out of the ring,
by the Tokyo police officer got around behind
for the deciding point.
"Even though I lost the toss (for the overtime
clinch), I got a reasonably good grip and
felt like I could do it," said Toyota.
"Thefore I locked up I saw Mr. Fukuda (JWF
president Tomiaki Fukuda) and he gave me
this look like 'You can do it!' It gave me
the feeling I would," the 27-year-old
Tokushima native added.
At 84 kg, Matsumoto faced an opponent
who had defeated him only two weeks earlier
in the Olympic qualifier in Novi Sad, Serbia
and Montenegro. Matsumoto got the first chance
to score with a passivity call, but Mendez
snuck around behind for the first point when
Matsumoto attempted a reverse waistlock.
Matsumoto fell behind further when the
three-time Pan America champion got around
behind and executed a gut wrench for a 3-0
lead at the intermission.
Matsumoto got another chance in the second
period, however, on another passivity call.
He succeeded with the reverse waistlock and
lift for three points plus the bonus to grab
a 4-3 lead.
The 2002 Asian Games champion could not
pull the trigger on another waistlock, but
received a point for the lift as time expired
on a 5-3 upset victory. "This is fantastic!
I'm keeping up with Sasamoto," exclaimed
Matsumoto, referring to Makoto Sasamoto,
a teammate of Matsumoto's at Nippon Sports
Science University who qualified for the
Olympics at 60 kg two weeks ago.
By advancing to the semifinals, Toyota
and Matsumoto gave Japan four entries in
the greco-roman event at the Athens Games
in August. The top four wrestlers in each
weight category at qualified for the greco-roman
event in Athens.
Katsuhiko Nagata qualified Japan at 74
kg by finishing 10th at the world championships
last October and Sasamoto finished second
at the first Olympic qualifier two weeks
Along with the four entries in greco-roman,
Japan is also sending five wrestlers in freestyle
and four in women's wrestling, which is making
its debut on the Olympic program.
The wrestlers who qualified Japan in
freestyle and greco-roman will have to defend
their Olympic berth by winning the national
invitational tourney on April 12-13. If any
of the wrestlers are unable to win the invitational
title, a special wrestle-off will be held
between the invitational winner and the Athens
qualifier to determine the Olympic team member.