To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


   TOKYO (February 23) - World champion Seiko Yamamoto pinned Japan's reigning national champion at 59 kg Rena Iwama on Monday the first day of the Japan Queens Cup competition. Yamamoto, who won the world title at 59 kg in New York last fall, flattened Iwama in 2:39 in a preliminary pool bout at 55 kg at Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo.

   Yamamoto, who also pinned former Nihon University teammate Chikako Matsukawa, is scheduled to wrestle a third bout and then will likely face two-time world champion Saori Yoshida for the title on Tuesday.

   Yoshida, who also recorded on a fall on Monday, can sew up a ticket to this summer's Athens Olympics with a win in the championship final on Tuesday. Yamamoto, meanwhile, is hoping to force a wrestle-off for the Olympic team berth with a win over Yoshida, after losing to her in overtime in the national championships in December.

   In other action, 51-kg world champion Chiharu Icho won her pool at 48 kg with a pair of technical falls to advance to the semifinals. With a trip to Athens at stake, the other semifinalists at 48 kg are Misato Shimizu, Makiko Sakamoto and Miyu Yamamoto. Icho's younger sister and two-time world champion, Kaori racked up three pins to advance to the semifinals, while Asia champion Ayako Shoda kept pace on the other side of the bracket at 63 kg.

   Kyoko Hamaguchi scored a pair of falls at 72 kg and will face Japan Beverage teammate Norie Saito for the championship and a ticket to Athens on Tuesday.