To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


TOKYO (December 22) - Beijing Olympic hopeful Tomohiro Matsunaga(the
red of right photo) held off all-comers at 55 kg for his fourth straight senior freestyle title at the all-Japan national championships.

Meanwhile, Athens Olympic gold medalist Kaori Icho made it six in a row, breezing through the women’s field at 63 kg on the second day of competition at Yoyogi No. 2 Gymnasium in Tokyo.

Matsunaga faced down stiff challenges from Shinichi Yumoto, the winner of two big name meets in Europe last summer, and 2006 national team member Hideki Taoka in the semifinals and final, respectively. Matsunaga edged Yumoto with a takedown from the clinch in the first period and a force-out point in the second, while a leg attack and lift for three points and a go-behind counter were enough to seal the match against Taoka.

“Attacking the legs and scoring points mean nothing if you don’t win the match,” Matsunaga said after the final, referring to his hard-fought loss to Uzbekistan’s Dilshod Mansurov and early exit from the world championships in September.

Looking ahead to the Asian championships in March, Matsunaga remarked vowed to win and secure a berth in Olympic Games in Beijing next summer.

Also, in freestyle, Kazuyuki Nagashima held off Kyoto high school phenom Sosuke Takatani for his second title at 74 kg and Yutaka Suzuki defeated 2006 world team member Shinya Matsumoto to repeat as 84-kg national champion.

In greco-roman, Yuki Iwasaki regained his 74-kg crown with a 1-1, 1-1 win against defending champion Tsukasa Tsurumaki, with both periods decided on last point criteria. Hirokazu Shinjo was his first championship in three years in a similar fashion at 120 kg.

In the women’s competition, world champions Chiharu and Kaori Icho rolled to convincing wins at 48 and 63 kg, respectively, but it was Kaori(the red of left photo) who lit up scoreboard, ending each period she wrestled short of two minutes with a fall or technical fall. “Before today’s competition, I was thinking I wanted to dominate my opponents,” said Kaori, who won her sixth straight all-Japan title to go with her six world and Olympic championships.

But, after the 63-kg final, Kaori did not speak much about her victory. Instead, she reiterated the Icho sisters’ dream of winning Olympic gold medals together in Beijing.

Kaori’s older sister had her hands full in the final against long-time rival Makiko Sakamoto, before taking a 1-0, 1-0 win from a pair of clinches for her third straight and fourth overall championship at 48 kg. She has a fifth all-Japan title at 51 kg.

Results of semifinal and championship final bouts:

Men’s freestyle

55 kg
F1 - Tomohiro Matsunaga df. Hideki Taoka, 2-0 (4-0, 1-0)
SF - Matsunaga df. Shinichi Yumoto, 2-0 (1-0=2:05, 1-0)
SF - Taoka df. Yasuhiro Inaba, 2-0 (1-0=2:03, 3-1)

74 kg
F1 - Kazuyuki Nagashima df. Sosuke Takatani, 2-1 (2-1, 1-1x, 1-0)
SF - K. Nagashima df. Yosuke Kato, 2-0 (3-0, 5-0)
SF - Takatani df. Masahiko Nagashima, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)

84 kg
F1 - Yutaka Suzuki df. Shinya Matsumoto, 2-0 (1x-1, 4-0)
SF - Suzuki df. Satoru Yamamoto, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
SF - Matsumoto df. Kunihiko Obata, 2-1 (1-0=2:07, 0-4, 1-0)


74 kg
F1 - Yuki Iwasaki df. Tsukasa Tsurumaki, 2-0 (1x-1, 1x-1)
SF - Iwasaki df. Taichi Suga, 2-0 (3-0, 6-0)
SF - Tsurumaki df. Shuhei Kuraya, 2-1 (5-0, 1-1x, 6-0=1:52)

120 kg

F1 - Hirokazu Shinjo df. Atsushi Nakamura, 2-0 (1x-1, 1x-1)
SF - Shinjo df. Naoki Sawada, 2-1 (1x-1, 1-1x, 1x-1)
SF - Nakamura, df. Ryuta Kono, 2-0 (2-1, 3-0)

Women’s freestyle

48 kg
F1 - Chiharu Icho df. Makiko Sakamoto, 2-0 (1-0=2:06, 1-0=2:03)
SF - Icho df. Fuyuko Mimura, 2-0 (1-0, 4-0)
SF - Sakamoto df. Sachiko Akasaka by fall, 2P=1:53 (1-0, 5-0)

63 kg
F1 - Kaori Icho df. Erika Matsukawa by fall, 1P=1:14 (7-0)
SF - Icho df. Kayoko Kudo by TF, 2-0 (7-0=1:38, 7-0=0:30)
SF - Matsukawa df. Keijun Utada by fall, 2P=0:42 (2-0, 3-0)