To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world
By William May
（Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports writer：email@example.com）
December wrestling news
SIX-TIME WORLD CHAMP H. SAKAMOTO RETURNS TO MATS
TOKYO (December 26) – Six-time world champion Hitomi Sakamoto has come out of retirement and plans to challenge for a spot on the Japanese women's team at 48kg with an eye on the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Sakamoto and coach Kenji Fujikawa of the Japan Self Defense Forces team notified the Japan Wrestling Federation's national team committee after the national championships that she wanted to return to active competition. The committee approved their request.
Sakamoto won six world championship titles in 2000, 2001 and from 2005 to 2008. She attempted to qualify for the Beijing Olympic team at 55kg, but could not get past reigning world and Olympic champion Saori Yoshida.
The Aomori native, one of the top technicians in female wrestling and FILA wrestler of the year in 2000, announced her retirement after winning her sixth world title in Tokyo in October 2008 and became a national team coach that December.
Sakamoto, who turns 29 on January 4, decided to return to the mats after some encouragement from her younger sister Makiko following the world championships in Denmark in September.
Makiko, who has two bronze medals at 48kg from the world meet, slumped to eighth place in Denmark. Shortly after her loss, Makiko suggested that her older sister aim for the London Olympics herself.
Hitomi, however, was undecided over whether to return to competition or continue with her support of her sister.
“Nothing has changed in my desire to help my sister go to the Olympics,” the elder Sakamoto said. “But, technically, emotionally, she's not ready yet, so I hope my return to competition will help.”
“I'm a little worried about dropping to 48kgm but it is not impossible. If I get a chance to wrestle, I will give it my all.”
Sakamoto, who has continued to train with her sister, the SDF club and members of the national team, will likely try her hand at the Meiji Nyugyo Cup invitational in May. The MNC meet serves as the Japanese world team trials.
C. ICHO TO LEAVE ALSOK SOGO KEIBI CLUB
TOKYO (December 24) – The ALSOK Sogo Keibi security company announced that two-time Olympic silver medalist Chiharu Icho is leaving the company and will return to Aomori where she will begin work as a high school teacher in April.
Icho indicated that she plans to continue wrestling, adding that she plans to try again for the London Olympics in 2012, reported the security company. ALSOK Sogo Keibi is one of the leading supporters of Japan's top Olympic hopefuls.
WRESTLERS OF THE YEAR NAMED FOR JWF AFFILIATE ASSOCIATIONS
TOKYO (December 18) – The member associations of the Japan Wrestling Federation announced their wrestlers of the year for 2009. The winners are:
Shakaijin (non-student senior) – Hayanobu Shimizu, Japan Self-Defense Forces
Women- Shonanko Murata, JOC Elite Academy (Tokyo)
University – Hiroyuki Oda, Kokushikan University
High school – Fumitaka Morishita, Kasumigaura high school (Ibaraki)
Jr. high school, boys – Ryuta Yonaha, Nakanishi junior high school (Okinawa)
Jr. high school, girls – Yui Sakano, Aoyamadai junior high school (Osaka)
Schoolboys – Tashi Narikuni, Gold Kids club (Tokyo)
Schoolgirls – Mayu Mukata, Yokkaichi Juniors (Mie)
Yu Okamura, Dappe club (Ibaraki)
Masters – Susumu Hashiura, Miyagi wrestling association
MEIJI NYUGYO CUP INVITATIONAL TO INCLUDE WOMEN IN 2010
TOKYO (December 23) – A senior women's division will be included in the 2010 Meiji Nyugyo Cup all-Japan invitational championships, which also serve as the Japanese world team trials.
The invitational had been a men's tournament while the women competed in a separate national championships. The board of directors for the Japan Wrestling Federation, however, decided to eliminate the senior division of the women's national meet and combine it with the men's MNC meet.
The 2010 invitational is scheduled to be held from April 30 to May 2 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2 in Tokyo.
Meanwhile, the JWF still plans to organize the women's national championships for wrestlers in the cadet division and younger.
SELECTION OF WOMEN'S WORLD TEAM TO BE BEST-OF-3
TOKYO (December 23) – The women's national team committee of the Japan Wrestling Federation decided that it will adopt a best-of-3 system for selecting the Japanese women's team for the world championships in Moscow.
Winners at the recently concluded All-Japan championships will secure their position on the world team if they win again at the Meiji Nyugyu Cup national invitational. If, however, another wrestler wins at the MNC meet, a deciding match between the two winners will be held the same day to determine the world team entry.
The selection process for Japan's female entries to the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in November will be determined at a later date by the women's national team committee.
KUNO WINS PAIR OF BRONZE MEDALS AT GRAPPLING WORLD C'SHIPS
FORT LAUDERDALE, United States (December 12-13) – Takanori Kuno won a pair of bronze medals at the second grappling world championships at 96kg in the no-gi (no jacket) and gi (jacket) divisions, respectively.
In the no-gi competition, Kuno lost to eventual champion Raphael Davis of the United States in his opening match. The Tokyo grappler rebounded to defeat Misha Cirkunov of Canada by default for a repeat of the bronze medal he won in the inaugural grappling meet a year ago.
In the gi division, Kuno fell to Brazil's Rodrigo Medeiros in the first round, but came back for a bronze medal with an elbow-lock against American Sam McCoy.
Meanwhile, Ryotaro Endo lost his opening bout to eventual bronze medalist Jason Wishinski of Canada at 66kg in the no-gi competition and had to settle for ninth place.
TOKYO SPORTS NEWSPAPER CO. GIVES AWARDS TO WORLD MEDALISTS
TOKYO (December 10) – Tokyo Sports newspaper company awarded a “wrestling special award” to Japan's four medalists at the world championships in Denmark in September.
Awards went to female world champions Saori Yoshida (55kg) and Mio Nishimaki (63kg) as well as bronze medalists Yuri Kai (women's 51kg) and Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu (men's freestyle, 66kg).
Yoshida was honored by Tokyo Sports for an eighth time since receiving her first award in 2002, while it was the second award for Nishimaki.
NIHON BUNRI WINS 1ST WEST JAPAN COLLEGE CROWN
OSAKA (December 5-6) – Nihon Bunri University of Oita defeated Tokuyama University 4-3 at Namihaya Dome in Osaka to claim its first west Japan collegiate wrestling championship title at the league's autumn tourney.
NBU is the first university from Kyushu to win the championship since 2001 when Fukuoka University won the spring title. NBU also won the title in the 10th year since the univeristy was founded.
NBU fell behind Tokuyama 2-3 in the first five matches, but a pair of first-year students, Tatsunobu Kamei at 74kg and Jun Yasunaga at 60kg, pulled off upset victories in the final two matches for the triumph.
In pool competition, Tokuyama defeated five-time league defending champion Ritsumeikan University 4-3 to advance to the championship final. Ritsumeikan rebounded for third place, but it was the first time since the 1998 autumn tourney that the Kyoto school did not reach the finals in the bi-annual championships.
Kinki University defeated Tenri University for the second division title and edged Kansai University to earn promotion to the first division for next spring.