To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

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


TOKYO (September 22) – World and Olympic champion sisters Chiharu and Kaori Icho said they will sit out next month’s female wrestling world championships in Tokyo.

They denied rumors, however, that they plan to retire from wrestling, suggesting instead that they both would aim to wrestle at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Three-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist Chiharu explained that she had been plagued with an inflammation in her ankle since June. The elder Icho added that she had also pulled a muscle in the calf of her left leg during a 48kg match at last month’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

She pointed out that she has not fully healed yet and that she was also having trouble making weight. “If I try to wrestle in this condition, I think that I would just cause a lot of problems for the people involved and the wrestling fans,” Chiharu said.

Kaori, meanwhile, who won her second Olympic gold medal at 63kg in Beijing, said that she twisted her knee in the championship final, and even though she has no problem getting around on the knee now, she still is not ready to wrestle on it.

The sisters both used the press conference to dismiss rumors that flared after the Olympics that they were planning to retire from wrestling.

“I love wrestling, so I will continue. I will aim to wrestle at the London Olympics,” Chiharu told reporters, adding that, in the meantime, she would like to study English abroad somewhere.

Kaori, meanwhile, said “First, I want my knee to heal. Four years from now is not something I can think about now, but I will take it one year at a time and I think in the end that the London Olympics will be an important goal for me.”

Hideaki Tomiyama, national team director for the Japan Wrestling Federation, said that substitutes for the Icho sisters will be determined at the women’s national team training camp, getting under way September 25.