To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


  TOKYO (January 22) - The Japan Wrestling Federation has decided to move up wrestle-offs for the women's Olympic wrestling team to March 16, about a month sooner than originally planned. The wrestle-off matches, if needed, will be held at the Japan Institute of Sports Science in Tokyo.

  Women's wrestling will be making its Olympic debut at the 2004 Games in Athens this August, but competition is limited to only four of the sport's seven weight categories -- 48, 55, 63 and 72 kg. Chiharu Icho (48 kg), Saori Yoshida (55), Kaori Icho (63) and five-time world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi (72) have a leg up on the competition for Olympic team berths after triumphs in the national championship meet in December.

  The wrestle-offs will only be held if a winner in one of the Olympic weight categories at the Japan Queens Cup tourney is someone other than the reigning national champion. The Japan Queens Cup meet is set for February 22-23 at Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo.


  TOKYO (January 22) - Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported that a Greek hotel in which the Japanese women's team stayed for one evening prior to the pre-Olympic test event did not meet health and sanitation standards. The Japanese team stayed at the hotel on January 20, but moved to another hotel on January 21. The hotel did not meet sanitation standards during a health and welfare ministry examination last November, but reportedly had not taken any measures to improve the situation. A case of food poisoning in August, during a pre-Olympic test competition for rowing, was blamed on the food served at the hotel.

  None of the members of the Japanese delegation reported any health problems following the incident.


  TOKYO (January 21) - A select squad of Japanese collegiate wrestlers will take part in the Dave Schultz Memorial competition in Colorado Springs, February 6-8. The team is scheduled to leave Japan on February 3 and return February 11. Meanwhile, greco-roman veterans Katsuhiko Nagata and Shingo Matsumoto are in Colorado Springs training with U.S. national team members, but it is not known if they will be competing in the event.

The Japanese team will be:

55 kg - Seshito Shimizu, Nippon Sports Science Unv.
60 kg - Takafumi Kojima, NSSU
66 kg - Satoshi Sato, Waseda; Muneyuki Suzuki, Ritsumeikan
74 kg - Kazuyuki Nagashima, Waseda
84 kg - Takao Isokawa, Takushoku; Shinya Matsumoto, Nihon Univ.
96 kg - Masahide Moriyama, NSSU

55 kg - Bunsei Murakami, Takushoku
60 kg - Yusuke Shoji, Takushoku
66 kg - entry undetermined
74 kg - Ryosuke Kogawa, NSSU; Tsukasa Tsurumaki, Kokushikan
84 kg - Satoru Yamamoto, NSSU
96 kg - Nobuhiko Maeshima, Takushoku
120 kg - Naoki Sawada, Takushoku


  TOKYO (January 14) - Sydney Olympic silver medalist Katsuhiko Nagata left for five weeks of training in the United States after failing to nail down a berth for this summer痴 Athens Games at the national championships in December. Nagata qualified Japan for an Olympic berth at 74 kg by finishing 10th in last fall's greco-roman world championships, but was unable to secure the position for himself when he lost to rival Taichi Suga in the finals of the national championships.

  Nagata, however, will get a chance to redeem himself at the national invitational meet in April. Nagata expects to train with the United States' top greco-roman wrestlers in Colorado Springs during his stay. He is scheduled to return to Japan on February 23.


  TOKYO (January 8) - Asian Games greco-roman gold medalist Shingo Matsumoto left for a month of training in the United States at the U.S. training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Matsumoto, who won the national title at 84 kg in December, will have a chance to practice with some of America's top greco-roman wrestlers. Matsumoto said that he might also wrestle in the Dave Schultz Memorial tournament, February 6-8.

  He is scheduled to return to Japan on February 10 to prepare for the first Olympic qualifying competition for greco-roman wrestling in Novi Sad, Serbia-Montenegro. The Japanese national team will hold a training camp in Tokyo from February 13 to 21.


  OARAI, Ibaraki Pref. (January 2) - Members of the men and women's national wrestling teams greeted the Olympic year with a cold dive into the ocean. National team members and Olympic hopefuls for Japan assembled for a year-end training session on December 30. Akihito Tanaka, freestyle national champion at 120 kg, was unable to attend the gathering because of illness.

  The team members, coaches and leaders visited Isosaki Jinja at 6 a.m. New Year's Day for the traditional first visit to a shrine.They then watched the sun come up over the Pacific Ocean nearby and took a cold splash into the water.Tomiaki Fukuda, president of the Japan Wrestling Federation, and Yuji Takada, the JWF's executive director, joined the wrestlers in the chilly waters of the Pacific.

  In the afternoon, the team members pounded rice cakes to end the day's events. The training camp continued until January 5.