To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


BUDAPEST (October 2) - Makoto Sasamoto appeared to be on track for Japan's first medal in greco-roman wrestling at the world championships in 10 years.
But his quest was derailed by Romanian Eusebiu Diaconu in the quarterfinals at Papp Laszlo Arena in Budapest and then spoiled when the silver medalist from the European championships to Iran's Ali Ashkani in the semifinals.
The losses left Sasamoto, who finished fifth at last year's Athens Olympics, in 10th place at 60 kg.
Optimism about Sasamoto's chances began to grow last month when he defeated reigning world champion at arch-nemesis Armen Nazarian of Bulgaria at the prestigious Pytlasinski International in Poland.
Sasamoto finished second at Pytlasinski after losing to Russian rival Russian rival Alexey Shevtsov in the final.
He turned the tables on Shevtsov in Budapest, however, winning in three periods 6-0, 0-6, 6-0 and then took two straight periods from Korea's Jung Kyung-Ho.
In the quarterfinals, however, Sasamoto appeared stale and could not stop the lift-and-throw specialist from Romania. Given his own chances on the mat, he has difficulty locking up for his own techniques and goes quietly in the Hungarian night.
Diaconu, meanwhile, rebounded from his loss to Ashkani in the semifinals for the bronze medal. Petr Svehla of the Czech Republic takes the other bronze at 60 kg.
Nazarian won his third straight world championship title by hanging three cautions on Ashkani for a disqualification in the 60-kg final.
At 96 kg, Kenzo Kato made an early exit with an opening loss to Bulgaria's Vladislav Metodiev.
The gold medal went to Turkey's Hamza Yerlikaya, who wins in his world debut at 96 kg. Yerlikaya won world titles in 1993 and 1995 at 82 kg, along with Olympic titles in 1996 and 2000.
Popular Lajos Virag took the silver medal for the home crowd while bronze medals went to American Justin Ruiz and Vassili Teploukhov of Russia.
At 120 kg, Naoki Sawada faced Hungarian star Mihaly Deak-Bardos in the opening round and was beaten by technical superiority.
After Deak-Bardos reaches the championsship final, Sawada qualified for the wrestle-backs but could not a challenge against European champion Sergey Artyoukhin of Belarus.
Deak-Bardos, wrestling in his fifth world championship final, came up short for the fifth time -- this time against Mijail Lopez of Cuba.
The silver medals by Virag and Deak-Bardos lift Hungary to the team title with 47 points. Russia was second with one champion and 27 points, while Turkey finished third with 26th.
Japan finished 4 points and 26th place out of 81 countries in the greco-roman standings.
Results of Japanese entries:
Greco-roman 60 kg - SASAMOTO, Makoto (10th, 39 entries)
R1 - df. Alexey Shevtsov (RUS), 2-1 (6-0, 0-6, 6-0)
In a repeat of the Pytlasinski final, Sasamoto and Shevtsov trade five-point throws as each takes one period. In the third period, Sasamoto uses a pair of gut wrenches for a 5-0 lead in par terre and then wiggles out of Shevtsov's lift to hold onto the win.
R2 - df. Jung Kyung-Ho (KOR), 2-0 (1x-1, 3-0)
Sasamoto takes the first period as neither is able to score an offensive point in par terre. In the second period, Sasamoto secures the win with a front headlock and turn.
QF - lost to Eusebiu Diaconu (ROM), 0-2 (0-4, 0-6)
Decided on the mat, Sasamoto gets rolled by Diaconu's low reverse waistlock in the first period. Sasamoto slips on his front headlock attempt. In the second period, Sasamoto gets thrown for three points and then, needing a huge throw to get back into the contest, gets too high on Diaconu and is thrown to his back.
Greco-roman 96 kg - KATO, Kenzo (31st, 32 entries)
R1 - lost to Vladislav Metodiev (BUL) by TF, 0-2 (0-6, 0-8)
Kato cannot get rolling against Metodiev and gives up two five-point lifts.
Greco-roman 120 kg - SAWADA, Naoki (25th, 26 entries)
R1 - lost to Mihaly Deak-Bardos (HUN) by TF, 0-2 (0-7, 0-6)
Sawada could do little against the four-time world silver medalist, dropping the first period on a series of gut wrenches. In the second period, Sawada cannot convert in the par terre position and Deak-Bardos ends the bout with gut wrenches.
r1 - loses to Sergey Artyoukhin (BLR), 0-2 (0-5, 0-4)
Sawada puts up a game fight, but cannot compete with the European champion. Sawada gets thrown for three points in the 1st period and then gets turned in the second period.