To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


BISHKEK (MAY 9) - Tokyo police officer Masashi Saito came from behind to defeat Asset Serikbayev of Kazakhstan and claim the freestyle gold medal at 55 kg on the second day of the Asian wrestling championships.

Saito improved on his bronze medal performance in the Asian championships a year ago to give Japan its first gold medal in the continental gathering since 2004 when Kazuhiko Ikematsu won at 66 kg.

The 25-year-old Akita native, who dropped the first period in each of his bouts before storming back for the win, found himself in a tough spot against against Serikbayev when the Kazak wrestler threw Saito to his back. “It was a situation in which I made the attack and my opponent took the point,” Saito explained. “I wasn’t worried at all. I knew that I could come back with my own wrestling in the second half of the match.”

At 66 kg, Ikematsu had to settle for fifth place after losses to Asian Games bronze medalist Kumar Sushil of India and Bayarkhuu (Buyanjav Batzorig?! also a bronze medal winner in Doha) of Mongolia.

Shinya Matsumoto and Akihito Tanaka each lost their first bouts of the championships at 84 kg and 120 kg, respectively, and did not qualify for the consolation round.

Results of individual bouts:
Men’s freestyle
55 kg - SAITO, Masashi (1st, 13 entries)
1R - bye
2R - df. Lee Woo-Ju (KOR), 2-1 (0-3=2:02, 1x-1, 2-0=2:08)
Saito gives up a point in a second-period scramble, but quickly reverses for the tiebreaker last point. Saito wins the coin toss after the third period, but has to scramble for the winning points.

SF - df. Souraki Abbas Dabbaghi (IRI), 2-1 (1-5, 5-0, 7-0=0:56)
Saito drops the first period after getting caught in trap-arm gut wrench, but roars back against the junior world silver medalist with a near-fall in the second. Saito rolls to a technical in the third period with an outside thigh trap for three points and two quick tilts.

F1 - df. Asset Serikbayev (KAZ), 2-1 (1-4, 3-0, 1-0=2:03)
Saito is thrown to his back in the first period and whips the Kazak veteran to his back in the second. Saito wins the coin toss after a scoreless third period and drives Serikbayev out of bounds for the gold medal.

66 kg - IKEMATSU, Kazuhiko (5th, 14 entries)
1R - lost to Kumar Sushil (IND) by fall, 2P=1:27 (1-0, 0-3)
Ikematsu takes the first period with a snap down and go-behind, but gets caught in a reverse arm trap off a front headlock and is flattened for the fall in the second.

r1 - df. Meylis Ovezgeldyyev (TKM), 2-0 (3-0, 3-0)
Ikematsu scores with a 3-point double-leg takedown in the first period and wraps up the win with a takedown and gut wrench in the second.

F3 - lost to Bayarkhuu (MGL), 0-2 (0-4, 0-3)
Ikematsu gets caught on his back trying to counter a front headlock in the first period and cannot get the momentum rolling in the second.

84 kg - MATSUMOTO, Shinya (dnp, 11 entries)
1R - lost to Lee Du-Soo (KOR), 0-2 (0-1, 5-6)
Matsumoto gives up a duck-under and takedown in the first period. Then drops the second on a force-out point after a seesaw battle.

120 kg - TANAKA, Akihito (dnp, 10 entries)
1R - bye
2R - lost to Lee Se-Hyung (KOR), 0-2 (0-1, 1-2)
Tanaka misfired with an arm throw in the first period and could not make up the difference after surrendering two points on a front headlock and spin under in the second.