To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


TOKYO (October 11) – Hitomi Sakamoto won her sixth world championship title in decisive fashion, slapping the mat to signal her own fall in the 51kg final at the women’s wrestling world championships. Sakamoto wrapped up Maryna Markevich (BLR) with a double-leg takedown to body press for the fall at Yoyogi National Gymnasium, and slapped the mat before the referee at 0:53 after seeing the judge signal confirmation of the pin.

The title was the sixth for Sakamoto, tying her with Canada’s Christine Nordhagen and Japan’s Yayoi Urano for the most world championship crowns. But, because Sakamoto competes at the non-Olympic weight of 51kg and was unable to unseat Saori Yoshida at 55kg for a berth on the Japanese national team, the 27-year-old Aomori native has been unable to wrestle at the Olympics.

In the semifinals, Sakamoto defeated Vanessa Boubryemm (FRA) by fall at 1:34 of the first period, in a repeat of their meeting in the 2005 world meet final.

Markevich, meanwhile, spotted Marina Vilmova (RUS) the first period (0-1), but stormed back against the former European cadet champion (5-0, 6-0) in the second and third periods to advance to her first world-level championship final.

In the bronze medal matches, Boubryemm scored a throw early in the third period against Jessica Bondy (CAN) and then held on for a 4-0, 0-7, 3-3 win, decided on big-point criteria in the final period.

European junior champion Yuliya Blahinya (UKR) overcame a 0-3 deficit in the second period with a nearfall, followed by exposure, for a 1-0, 6-0 triumph and the bronze medal.

In one of the few upsets in the morning session, Tatyana Bakatyuk (KAZ), who finished fifth at the Beijing Olympic Games, fell to former Pan American champion Aguis Rivas (VEN) 2-0 (3-1, 4-0).