To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


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


    GUANGZHOU, China (September 29) - Chiharu Icho defeated defending world champion Ren Xuecheng of China and claimed Japan’s first gold medal of the wrestling world championships.

Icho caught Ren in the middle of an underarm spin in the first period at Tianhe Gymnasium and flattened the Chinese grappler at 1:48 of the first period of the women’s 48 kg final. Ironically, Ren pinned Olympic champion Irina Melnik of Ukraine in a similar fashion one year ago to win her first world championship title. Melnik is reportedly expecting her first baby and did not compete at this year’s championships.

For Icho, the Olympic silver medalist at 48 kg to Melnik in 2004, it was a triumphant return to the mat after a year’s hiatus. Icho, who won the world title at 51 kg in 2003, returned to 48 kg this year to win World Cup laurels in May and now the world championship crown.

As the women’s competition got under way, Icho started slowly in her first two matches against Pan American champion Mayeli Caripa of Venezuela and world meet newcomer Tatyana Baktyuk of Kazakhstan. Golden Grand Prix Carol Huynh of Canada appeared to stretch Icho to her limits in the quarterfinals, while European bronze medalist Francine de Paolo threw the would-be champion for three points in the semifinals.

Still, in the championship final, Icho appeared relaxed as she and Ren attempted force-outs. And when Ren tried an ill-advised underarm spin, Icho was ready to press her opponent for the fall.

In the matches for third place, Huynh was pipped in the third-period clinch by dePaolo while Iwona Sadowska of Poland edged European junior champion Marina Markevich of Belarus to end Poland’s three-year world medal drought.

On the final day of men’s freestyle, Japan’s two entries lost in the early rounds and were eliminated when their opponents failed to reach the finals.

At 96 kg, Kiyotaka Kodaira had the early momentum in the first round but could not hold off Koo Tae-Hyun of Korea in a 3-2, 0-2, 0-1 loss. Koo, a fifth-place finisher in Budapest a year ago, was pinned by Canada’s David Zilberman in the quarterfinals, knocking Kodaira out of the competition. Zilberman was later forced to settle for fifth place after being tripped up in the bronze medal match with 2005 Pan American champion Michel Batista. The other bronze medal went to Ruslan Sheyikhov of Belarus.

In a meeting of former and reigning world champions for the gold medal, current title holder Khadshimourad Gatsalov of Russia came from behind to defeat Georgi Gogshelidze of Georgia 0-1, 1-0, 4-0.

At 120 kg, Japanese newcomer Katsuya Kitamura was no match for Hungarian veteran Otto Aubeli, losing 0-2, 0-2 on force-outs and single-legs. Aubeli, 31, a bronze medalist in Budapest, lost in the quarterfinals to Olympic champion Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan and again in the wrestlebacks.

In the gold medal final, Taymazov won his first world championship title with a 1-1, 3-0 decision over European champion Kuramagomed Kuramagomedov of Russia. In the bronze-medal matches, Masoumi Valadi of Iran and Ruslan Basiev of Armenia emerged victorious.
Results of matches involving Japanese entries:

48 kg - ICHO, Chiharu (1st, 27 entries)

Pr - df. Mayeli Caripa (VEN), 2-0 (1-0, 6-0)
Icho drags behind twice and hits a pair of gut wrenches in the second period against the five-time Pan American champion.

R1 - df. Tatyana Bakatyuk (KAZ), 2-0 (6-0, 6-0)
Icho makes short work of the Kazakh debutante with single-leg takedowns and gut wrenches.

QF - df. Carol Huynh (CAN), 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
Icho wins the clinch in the first period when Huynh misses a chance to escape. Icho scores with a low single in the first period to win against the 2005 world bronze medalist.

SF - df. Francine de Paola (ITA) by fall, 2P=1:30
De Paola throws Icho for three points in the first period, but Icho comes back with a double-leg takedown for three points in the second period and then covers for the fall.

F1 - df. Ren Xuecheng (CHN) by fall, 1P=1:48
A highly anticipated final ended prematurely when Icho stopped Ren in the middle of an underarm spin and flattened the defending world champion for the fall.

96 kg - KODAIRA, Kiyotaka (17th, 27 entries)
R1 - lost to Koo Tae-Hyun (KOR), 1-2 (3-2, 0-2, 0-1)
Kodaira throws Koo to his back with an overhook and reap early in the first period, but cannot score again as Koo takes the next two periods on duck-unders and single-legs.
120 kg - KITAMURA, Katsuya (20th, 27 entries)

R1 - lost to Otto Aubeli (HUN), 0-2 (0-2, 0-2)
Kitamura’s inexperience shows against the veteran as Aubeli forges a one-sided win on force-outs and single-legs