To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee
Kyodo World Services, senior sports


TOKYO (December 23) - Two-time Olympic champion Saori Yoshida won her eighth straight All-Japan title and was awarded the Emperor's Cup as the most outstanding wrestler at the All-Japan wrestling national championships.

Yoshida, who won her seventh world title in Denmark in September, scored falls in the first minute of all three of her bouts in the women's competition at 55kg as the three-day meet came to a close at Yoyogi National Gymnasium No. 2. The Emperor's Cup was Yoshida's second straight and third overall in Japanese wrestling's season-ending event.

Meanwhile, two of Yoshida's Olympic teammates returned to action in Japan after a year of rest and relaxation, and reclaimed the top spots in their respective weight categories. Olympic bronze medalist Kyoko Hamaguchi won her 13th title at 72kg despite being hobbled with a broken toe in her left foot. Hamaguchi's 13th triumph leaves her one behind greco-roman ironman Yasutoshi Moriyama who holds the record of 14 All-Japan titles.

Kaori Icho, the 63kg champion in Athens and Beijing, edged four-time world champion Seiko Yamamoto in the semifinals and reigning world champ Mio Nishimaki for her seventh All-Japan crown.

In the men's events, Kohei Hasegawa won his third straight crown in greco-roman at 55kg, while Ryutaro Matsumoto posted his first with a triumph over 2007 world silver medalist Makoto Sasamoto at 60kg.

In men's freestyle, defending champion Shinichi Yumoto was knocked out of the competition by Asia junior runner-up Fumitaka Morishita in a wild quarterfinal bout at 55kg. Yasuhiro Inaba, runner-up at the FILA Golden Grand Prix in July, stepped in to bag his first All-Japan championship.

Two-time Olympian Kazuhiko Ikematsu won his fourth All-Japan title with wins over 2006 Asian Games silver medalist Takafumi Kojima, collegiate champ Kazuki Morikawa and world team trials runner-up Tsukasa Sato at 66kg.

Defending champion and world bronze medalist at 66kg Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu sat out the championships to nurse a nagging shoulder injury.

In addition to the Emperor's Cup going to Yoshida, Inaba was named the outstanding wrestler in men's freestyle; Hasegawa was the OW in greco-roman, and Kaori Icho the winner in women's freestyle.


55kg - 16 entries

F1 - Kohei Hasegawa df. Ryo Minemura, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
SF - Hasegawa df. Masaharu Kaji, 2-0 (7-0=1:01, 8-0=1:11)
SF - Minemura df. Tomoya Murata, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
(Hasegawa wins 3rd straight, 3rd overall All-Japan title)

60kg - 13 entries
F1 - Ryutaro Matsumoto df. Makoto Sasamoto, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
SF - Matsumoto df. Kazuma Kuramoto, 2-0 (1-0, 3-0)
SF - Sasamoto df. Yasuyuki Tanioka, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)
(Matsumoto wins 1st title)

Men's freestyle

55kg - 16 entries
F1 - Yasuhiro Inaba df. Hideki Taoka, 2-1 (1-1x=last, 1-0, 2-0)
SF - Inaba df. Fumitaka Morishita, 2-0 (6-0=1:45, 6-0=1:02)
SF - Taoka df. Kazuhide Tomioka by fall, 2P=1:49 (1-0 (F4-0)


R2 - Morishita df. Shinichi Yumoto, 2-1 (2-4, 2-0, 4-2)
(Inaba wins 1st title)

66kg - 16 entries
F1 - Kazuhiko Ikematsu df. Tsukasa Sato, 2-1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)
SF - Sato df. Kohei Fujimoto, 2-0 (3-0=2:07, 1-0)
SF - Ikematsu df. Kazuki Morikawa by fall, 3P=1:45 (0-2, 3-2, F5-2)
(Ikematsu wins 4th title, first in two years)

Women's freestyle

55kg - 12 entries
F1 - Saori Yoshida df. Chikako Matsukawa by fall, 1P=0:58 (F4-0)
SF - Yoshida df. Chiaki Arai by fall, 1P=0:44 (F7-0)
SF - Matsukawa df. Kazuki Sakaue by fall, 1P=0:55 (F2-3)
(Yoshida wins 8th straight, 8th overall title)

63kg - 9 entries
F1 - Kaori Icho df. Mio Nishimaki, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
SF - Nishimaki df. Kayoko Kudo, 2-0 (5-0, 3-1)
SF - Icho df. Seiko Yamamoto, 2-1 (0-4, 1-0, 1-0)
(Icho wins 7th overall title, first in two years)

72kg - 4 entries
F1 - Kyoko Hamaguchi df. Yoshiko Inoue, 2-1 (1-0=2:04, 0-1, 1-0)
SF - Inoue df. Akie Arai by fall, 1P=0:26 (F4-0)
SF - Hamaguchi df. Hiroe Suzuki, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)
(Hamaguchi wins 13th overall title, first in two years)