To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world

By William May
iJapan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


BEIJING (August 9-21) - Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho repeated as Olympic gold medalists at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games while the Japanese men won a medal for the 14th straight Olympic Games they have competed in since 1952.

Yoshida turned away all challengers at China Agricultural University Gymnasium, including last yearfs world runner-up Ida-Theres Nerell (SWE) and Athens 2004 silver medalist Tonya Verbeek (CAN), on her way to a second Olympic gold medal at 55kg. Yoshida is also a five-time world champion.

Icho, another five-time world champion, meanwhile, survived a scare in the semifinals to win her second Olympic gold medal at 63kg. Icho needed a late reversal in the semifinals to defeat Martine Dugrenier (CAN), a three-time world runner-up at 67kg.

Also, for a second straight Olympic Games, Chiharu Icho had to settle for a silver medal at 48kg and Kyoko Hamaguchi a bronze at 72kg.

The Japanese women, who had hoped to improve on their performance in Athens where womenfs wrestling made its Olympic debut, left Beijing with the same medal count as 2004.

In menfs freestyle, Tomohiro Matsunaga and Kenichi Yumoto kept alive Japanfs postwar tradition of winning at least one medal in wrestling at the Olympic Games.

Since 1952, the Japanese men have won at least one medal in wrestling at each Olympics with the exception of the 1980 Moscow Games in which Japan did not participate. Japan joined a U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Games in response to the Soviet Unionfs invasion of Afghanistan.

Japanfs last gold medals at the Olympics were won by Takashi Kobayashi (FS, 48kg) and Mitsuru Sato (FS, 52kg) at the 1988 Seoul Games.

In Beijing, Matsunaga took the silver medal at 55kg after defeating Asian nemesis Dilshod Mansurov (UZB) in the quarterfinals and then stunning reigning world champion Besik Kudukhov (RUS) with a fall in the semifinals.

Yumoto, meanwhile, edged reigning Asia champion Yogeshwar Dutt (IND) in the quarterfinals and rebounded from a loss in the semifinals to defeat 2007 Asia champion Bazar Bazarguruev (TJK) for the bronze medal at 60kg.

In greco-roman, meanwhile, world silver medalist Makoto Sasamoto could not overcome long-time rival Armen Nazarian (BUL) in a second-round match and was eliminated when the two-time Olympic champion lost in the quarterfinals.

Results of bouts involving Japanfs entries at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games:

Womenfs freestyle

48 kg - ICHO, Chiharu (2nd, 17 entries)

R1 - bye

R2 - df. Li Xiaomei (CHN) 2-1 (0-1=2:12, 1-0=2:08, 1-0)
Icho spins behind for a point in the middle of the third period to defeat the 2007 world bronze medalist.

QF - df. Irini Merleni (UKR) by fall, 2P=2:00 (0-1, F3-1)
Icho was 10 seconds from losing to the Athens 2004 Olympic gold medalist when she uncorks a hip throw and presses for the fall.

SF - df. Clarissa Chun (USA), 2-1 (1-0, 0-3=2:01, 1x-1=last point)
Icho scores a go-behind point with 30 seconds remaining in the third period to secure a 2-1 win over the Pan American champion on last point criteria.

F1 - lost to Carol Huynh (CAN), 0-2 (0-4, 1-2)
Icho could not get anything going against the former world silver and bronze medalist, giving up a pair of takedowns in the first period and then a takedown counter and cross-ankle turn in the second.


55 kg - YOSHIDA, Saori (1st, 16 entries)

R1 - df. Ida-Theres Nerell (SWE), 2-0 (3-1, 4-0)
Yoshida picks Nerell apart with takedowns and counters to her opponentfs front headlock in a repeat of last yearfs world championships final.

QF - df. Natalia Golts (RUS), 2-0 (2-1, 4-0)
Yoshida needs a two-point takedown to take the first period and then scores with a takedown and nearfall in the second period.

SF - df. Tonya Verbeek (CAN), 2-0 (2-0, 6-0=1:59)
After a slow start, Yoshida gets her leg attacks going in the second period to defeat the Athens 2004 silver medalist.

F1 - df. Xu Li (CHN) by fall, 2P=0:43 (2-0, F5-0)
Yoshida scores with a single-leg takedown and then turns the Asia No. 3 with an arm bar for the fall.


63 kg - ICHO, Kaori (1st, 17 entries)

R1 - bye

R2 - df. Olesia Zamula (AZE) by fall, 2P=0:46 (2-0, 3-0)
Icho runs over a takedown attempt by the Euro No. 5 in the second period and presses for the fall.

QF - df. Randi Miller (USA) by fall, 2P=1:20 (3-0, F4-0)
Icho counters her opponentfs shot for a takedown in the second period, and pries the U.S. newcomer over with a leg grapevine for the fall.

SF - df. Martine Dugrenier (CAN) 2-1 (1-0=2:30, 0-1, 1x-1=last point)
Icho gives up a takedown late in the third period and appears headed for an upset loss, but quickly scrambles on top to win on last point criteria.

F1 - df. Alena Kartachova (RUS), 2-0 (1-0=2:30, 2-0=2:04)
Icho wins both ends of the clinch, defending in extra time after the first period and scoring a takedown in the second.


72 kg - HAMAGUCHI, Kyoko (3rd, 16 entries)

R1 - df. Elena Perepekina (RUS), 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0=2:00)
After trading periods with the former European champion, Hamaguchi wins the draw after a scoreless third period to take the clinch. Perepelkina, however, is penalized for an incorrect start and Hamaguchifs hand is raised as the winner.

R2 - df. Rosangela Conceicao (BRA) by fall, 2P=1:19 (1-0, F4-0)
Hamaguchi cranks the Pan American bronze medalist over with an arm bar for the fall.

SF - lost to Wang Jiao (CHN) by fall, 2P=0:46 (2-5, F0-3)
After a seesaw first period which Hamaguchi loses on a late takedown and gut wrench, the five-time former world champion gives up her arm on an apparent failed thigh trap and is muscled over by the junior world champ for the fall.

F3 - df. Ali Bernard (USA), 2-0 (3-0, 3-1)
Hamaguchi scores with takedowns and counters to defeat the former two-time junior world champion.

Menfs freestyle

55 kg - MATSUNAGA, Tomohiro (2nd, 19 entries)

R1 - df. Adam Diatta (SEN) by fall, 2P=1:48 (1-0=2:05, F3-0)
Matsunaga catches the 20-year-old Africa champion with a hiplock late in the second period and covers for the fall.

R2 - df. Sezar Akgul (TUR), 2-0 (5-0, 3-0)
Matsunaga combines takedowns with aggressive mat wrestling to defeat the European bronze medalist in a one-sided match.

QF - df. Dilshod Mansurov (UZB), 2-1 (2-1, 0-1, 2-1)
In a give-and-take bout over the first five minutes, Matsunaga gives up a go-behind point to the two-time former world champion midway through the third period, but clinches the win with a duck-under takedown 30 seconds later.

SF - df. Besik Kudukhov (RUS) by fall, 2P=1:35 (3-0,F5-0)
Matsunaga counters a front headlock in the final 10 seconds of the first period to take the lead. Matsunaga takes the first point of the second period on a force-out, then catches Kudukhov in the middle of a takedown attempt with a whipover and holds on for the fall.

F1 - lost to Henry Cejudo (USA), 0-2 (2-2x=big point, 0-3)
Matsunaga drops the first period on criteria after giving up a late two-point takedown to the Pan American champion, and cannot recover from a three-point takedown in the second.


60 kg - YUMOTO, Kenichi (3rd, 19 entries)

R1 - bye

R2 - df. Vitaly Koryakin (TJK) by fall, 2P=0:36 (2-2x=last point, F4-1)
Yumoto drops the first period after a video review of a scramble on the mat gives the last point to Koryakin. In the second, Yumoto steps over a gut wrench and squeezes for the fall.

QF - df. Yogeshwar Dutt (IND), 2-1 (0-1, 4-1, 2-1)
Yumoto scores a takedown in the final 15 seconds in the third period to come from behind and defeat the Asia champion.

SF - lost to Vasyl Fedoryshyn (UKR), 0-2 (2-3, 0-1)
Yumoto is forced out in the final 10 seconds of the first period and then gives up a point after a prolonged scramble in the second that eats up most of the period.

F3 - df. Bazar Bazarguruev (KGZ), 2-0 (1-0=2:08, 2-0)
Yumoto wins from the clinch in the first period, then scores a single-leg and cross-ankle turn in the second against last yearfs Asia champion and world bronze medalist.


66 kg - IKEMATSU, Kazuhiko (13th, 21 entries)

R1 - bye

R2 - lost to Otar Tushishvili (GEO), 1-2 (1-4, 1-0=2:06, 0-1)
Ikematsu gives up a single-leg takedown early in the third period and cannot crack the defense of the 2006 world silver medalist. Ikematsu is eliminated from the competition when Tushishvili loses to eventual gold medal winner Ramazan Sahin (TUR) in the semifinals.

Menfs Greco-Roman

60 kg - SASAMOTO, Makoto (10th, 20 entries)

R1 - df. Karen Mnatsakanyan (ARM), 2-0 (2-1, 3-0)
Sasamoto takes the first period on a penalty point against the former European champion for an incorrect start in par terre. He secures the win with a gut wrench in the second period.

R2 - lost to Armen Nazarian (BUL), 1-2 (4-0, 0-2, 0-2)
Sasamoto takes the first period on a gut wrench and nearfall. In the second, Sasamoto gives up a lift in the closing seconds of the period, allowing to the two-time Olympic champion to level the match at a period apiece. In the third period, Sasamoto escapes from the down position to start par terre, but misfires on an arm throw, giving Nazarian one point. On the attack, Sasamoto tries desperately for a final gut wrench, but cannot score the points needed. Sasamoto is eliminated when Nazarian loses in the quarterfinals to Vitaliy Rahimov (AZE).


84 kg - MATSUMOTO, Shingo (15th, 20 entries)

R1 - lost to Denis Forov (ARM), 0-2 (2-4,0-6=2:00)
Matsumoto gives up a lift and a pair of gut wrenches, and cannot score with his own reverse waistlock against the 2006 European silver medalist. Matsumoto is eliminated when Forov loses to Ara Abrahamian (SWE) in the quarterfinals.


96 kg - KATO, Kenzo (19th, 20 entries)

R1 - lost to Daigoro Timoncini (ITA), 0-2 (0-2, 0-6=2:00)
Kato is penalized for fleeing the mat in par terre in the first period and gives up a three-point throw in the second period. Kato is eliminated when Timoncini is defeated by eventual gold medalist Aslanbek Khushtov (RUS) in the second round.