To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


    TOKYO (January 27) - Kyoko Hamaguchi(right photo) wrestled cautiously against a dangerous former judoka to claim a 2-0 victory for her 11th consecutive title at the all-Japan wrestling national championships. Hamaguchi defeated Asuka Sano in the women’s 72-kg final at Komazawa Gymnasium in their first meeting ever and was apparently unfazed by the newcomer’s come-from-behind victory by fall over Ayako Murashima in the semifinals.

   “I believed that I could win if I was careful against her,” said Hamaguchi, who is widely suspected of being susceptible to judo-style trips and sweeps. Hamaguchi, refusing to give Sano a chance to throw, scored a pair of takedowns to win the first period. She then took the lead with a takedown 30 seconds into the second and made it stand for the title.

   “I’ve had a few second-place finishes recently, so it’s nice to have a victory,” said Hamaguchi, who took silver medals in the last two world championships and at the Asian Games in December.

   Also on the second day of the championships, reigning world champions Chiharu and Kaori Icho won in dramatic fashion at 48 and 63 kg, respectively. Chiharu needed a reversal in the closing seconds to take the first period from Makiko Sakamoto 1-1 on last-point criteria. She then blocked a takedown attempt in the final 15 seconds of the second period and dropped the 2005 world bronze medalist to her back for the win. It was Chiharu’s fourth national championship title overall and her third at 48 kg.

   Younger sister Kaori
(left photo), meanwhile, had her hands full facing 59-kg world champion Ayako Shoda in the 63-kg final. Kaori took the first period with a quick go-behind, but then gave up the lead in the second period on a fleeing the mat penalty. With 30 seconds remaining, Kaori made the score 1-1 with a takedown but trailed on criteria with the earlier caution. Kaori, however, scored a tilt in the final seconds for a point and her fifth straight all-Japan title.

   In men’s freestyle, Kunihiko Obata lost in his bid for an eighth straight championship at 74 kg, falling in the semifinals to Hiroki Kayamori. Kazuyuki Nagashima, wrestling in Obata’s shadow most of his career, took advantage of the situation by beating Kayamori for his first senior national title.

   At 66 kg, Asian Games silver medalist Takafumi Kojima lost one clinch, but scored from the clinch when it counted in the third period for his second national championship crown.

   In greco-roman, Masaki Imuro won his seventh straight at 66 kg, while Masatoshi Toyota (55 kg) and Taichi Suga (74 kg) each won their second straight and fourth overall national championship titles.

Results of the championship final and semifinal matches: 

66 kg (16 entries)
F1 - Takafumi Kojima df. Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu, 2-1 (0-3, 3-2, 3-0)
SF - Kojima df. Koji Furusato, 2-0 (6-0=1:29, 7-0=1:25)
SF - Yonemitsu df. Kazuhiko Ikematsu, 2-0 (1-0, 2-1)

74 kg (17 entries)
F1 - Kazuyuki Nagashima df. Hiroki Kayamori, 2-1 (5-0, 0-1=2:04, 4-3)
SF - Kayamori df. Kunihiko Obata, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)
SF - Nagashima df. Yosuke Kato, 2-1 (3-0=2:05, 1-1x, 1-0)

55 kg (17 entries)
F1 - Masatoshi Toyota df. Shingo Hirai, 2-0 (6-0=1:05, 4-0)
SF - Toyota df. Tomoya Murata, 2-0 (3-0, 4-0)
SF - Hirai df. Ryo Minemura, 2-0 (4-0, 2-0)

66 kg (16 entries)
F1 - Masaki Imuro df. Hiroyuki Shimizu, 2-0 (5-0, 4-1)
SF - Imuro df. Tsutomu Fujimura, 2-0 (1x-1, 2-0)
SF - Shimizu df. Yukihiro Ukita, 2-1 (1x-1, 1-1x, 2-0)

74 kg (12 entries)
F1 - Taichi Suga df. Yuki Iwasaki, 2-0 (4-0, 4-3)
SF - Suga df. Hirotaka Yoshioka, 2-0 (8-1=1:41, 7-0=1:44)
SF - Iwasaki df. Shuhei Kuraya, 2-0 (2-1, 1x-1)

48 kg (8 entries)
F1 - Chiharu Icho df. Makiko Sakamoto, 2-0 (1x-1, 3-0)
SF - Icho df. Fuyuko Mimura, 2-0 (5-0, 6-0=1:25)
SF - Sakamoto df. Sachiko Akasaka, 2-1 (1-0, 0-3, 3-0)

63 kg (7 entries)
F1 - Kaori Icho df. Ayako Shoda, 2-0 (1-0, 2-1)
SF - Icho df. Saori Watanabe, 2-0 (6-0=1:04, 7-0=0:43)
SF - Shoda df. Maki Tsukamoto by fall, 1P=1:09 (2-0)

72 kg (6 entries)
F1 - Kyoko Hamaguchi df. Asuka Sano, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
SF - Hamaguchi df. Kie Tanaka by fall, 1P=1:17 (5-0)
SF - Sano df. Ayako Murashima by fall, 2P=0:37 (0-3, 3-1)