To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


BEIJING (August 23) - Japan’s four entries went 0-4 before a stunned crowd on the first day of the female competition at the junior wrestling world championships. “It’s hard to believe after seeing Japanese dominance for so many years. Then to see four straight losses,” said seasoned wrestling journalist Gary Abbott of USA Wrestling.

Japan, which had three gold medalists at the junior worlds in 2005 and 2006, now turns to its final four entries in the female competition to salvage some hardware for the team. Japan’s brightest hope on the first day was Ai Shimizu of Saitama Sakae high school, who won the tough Klippan Ladies crown in Sweden last March.

Shimizu, however, was tripped up in the first period of her opening match at 51 kg and as pinned by Emese Barka of Hungary, a bronze medalist in the European senior championships in April.

Akiko Shimizu of the Japan Self Defense Forces was pinned by European junior silver medalist Agata Pietrzyk of Poland at 59 kg and Megumi Taira of the newly opened International Pacific University fell to Asia junior champion Olga Kalinina of Kazakstan at 67 kg. Only Yurie Sakamoto of Daito Bunka University went the distance, but still came up short to Peru’s Thalia Mallqui Peche in three periods at 44 kg.

Meanwhile, as little was going right for the Japanese, Russia powered its way to a pair of titles and host China raked in a gold, two silver medals and a bronze. European junior champion Elena Gnatenko of Russia defeated Lei Jingling of China 1-0, 4-0 at 44 kg, while teammate Natalya Laushkina stopped local favorite Zhang Fengliu 3-1, 5-1 at 67 kg to improve on her silver medal in 2006.

Li Songni gave the Chinese fans something to cheer about with a hard-fought 1-0, 2-0 over American Tatiana Padilla in the 59-kg final.
The U.S. got its own gold medal when Whitney Condor edged Babita Kumari of India 2-1, 3-2 for the 51-kg gold medal.

Results of bouts involving Japanese entries:

44 kg - Yurie Sakamoto, Daito Bunka Univ. (12th, 16 entries)
R1 - lost to Thalia Mallqui Peche (PER), 1-2 (2-0, 0-3, 0-1)

51 kg - Ai Shimizu, Saitama Sakae HS (20th, 22 entries)
R1 - lost to Emese Barka (HUN) by fall, 1P=0:45 (2-3)

59 kg - Akiko Shimizu, Japan SDF (13th, 18 entries)
R1 - lost to Agata Pietrzyk (POL) by fall, 2P=0:31 (2-4, 0-3)

67 kg - Megumi Taira, Int’l Pacific Univ. (11th, 16 entries)
R1 - lost to Olga Kalinina (KAZ) by fall, 1P=2:00 (0-3)