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By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee:wmay52@hotmail.com


MOSCOW (September 7) – Ryutaro Matsumoto won a silver medal on the second day of the wrestling world championships, giving Japan its first world medal in greco-roman wrestling since Makoto Sasamoto's silver medal in 2007.

Wrestling in the 60kg final at Olympiysky Sports Complex in Moscow, Matsumoto gave up a late takedown and was edged 1-0, 0-1, 0-1 by European champion Hasan Aliyev (AZE) for the gold medal. Japan's last world championship title was won by Masaki Eto in 1983 at 57kg.

Sasamoto, currently a national team rival with Matsumoto, also won his silver medal at 60kg. Despite the loss in the final, Matsumoto attempted to find a bright spot when he pointed out that his father, Setsuo, celebrated his 60th birthday the day before. “I'm happy that I could give my father such a nice birthday present (the world championships medal).”

Matsumoto, who finished in eighth place in his world meet debut last year, started out strongly against his first two opponents, taking the points given to him without giving up a point. Matsumoto, however, was forced to go the distance in the quarterfinals and the semifinals.

The 24-year-old Gunma native traded first and second periods with world No. 7 Revaz Lashkhi in the quarters. Lashkhi's two-point exposure in the second period, however, gave the Georgian the advantage in par terre in the third period.

From the offensive position, Lashkhi hoisted Matsumoto off the mat and appeared ready to slam the door on his opponent. But, when Lashkhi arched back for his throw, Matsumoto was able to land on his feet and catch the Georgian on his back for a fall.

In the semifinals, Matsumoto again appeared on the edge of defeat against 2004 Olympic champion Jung Ji-Hyun (KOR) in the semifinals as well. With each wrestler winning one period, Jung hit a well-timed fireman's carry for three points, but the points were taken off the board after a video replay showed that Jung had grabbed Matsumoto's leg during the throw.

Given new life, Matsumoto rebounded with a pair of force-outs for the win against Jung, sealing his place in the championship finals.

Japan's other entries on the second day of the championships did not fare well and made early exits from the competition.
Norikatsu Saikawa posted a win in his opening bout at 84kg, but could not advance any further after losing to Vladimir Gegeschidze (GEO) in the next round. Hirokazu Shinjo lost his only match at 120kg.


Results of bouts involving Japanese entries:

60kg – MATSUMOTO, Ryutaro (2nd, 31 entries)
R1 – df. Albert Baghumyan Aghazaryan (ESP), 2-0 (1-0, 3-0)
Matsumoto takes the first period on a force-out point, then hits a back drop in the second for a straight sets win.

R2 – df. Lenur Temirov (UKR), 2-0 (1-0, 4-0)
Matsumoto scored with a frontal force-out in the first period, then dragged to a force-out from behind in the second, followed with a back throw from par terre.

R3 – df. Revaz Lashkhi (GEO) by fall, 3P=1:59 (1-0, 0-2, F2-0)
Matsumoto and Lashkhi traded periods on gut wrenches. In the third period, Lashkhi took the advantage position in par terre and lifted Matsumoto into the air, but Matsumoto landed on his feet and caught last year's world No. 7 on his back for the fall.

SF – df. Jung Ji-Hyun (KOR) 2-1 (3-1, 0-3, 2-0)
In a rare, wide-open greco-roman match, Matsumoto and Jung traded periods with defensive maneuvers in par terre – Matsumoto a sideroll from down in the first and Jung a step-over to a lift in the second.
In the third period, Jung struck with a fireman's carry early, but the points were not allowed because he had grabbed Matsumoto's leg. After a challenge to clear the board of Jung's points, Matsumoto scored with two force-outs for the win.

F1 – lost to Hasan Aliyev (AZE), 1-2 (1-0, 0-1, 0-1)
Matsumoto and Aliyev trade the first and second periods on defensive points in par terre. The two wrestlers come out scrambling in the third period with arm drags and duck-unders until Aliyev scored with a spin-behind midway through the period. Matsumoto makes one final move to win with an escape from the bottom in par terre, but cannot secure the final point he needs to win the match.

84kg – SAIKAWA, Norikatsu (20th, 40 entries)
R1 – df. Marian Mihalik (SVK), 2-0 (3-0, 1-0)
Saikawa opens with a push-out and adds a gut wrench in the first period, then takes the second on a defensive point against a bronze medalist from this summer's world military championships.

R2 – lost to Vladimir Gegeshidze (GEO), 0-2 (0-2, 0-1)
Saikawa gives up a gut wrench in the first period par terre and cannot turn the stubborn Georgian in the second.
Saikawa was eliminated from medal contention when Gegeshidze lost in the third round.

120kg – SHINJO, Hirokazu (26th, 31 entries)
R1 – lost to Murat Ramonov (KGZ), 0-2 (0-2, 0-2)
Shinjo gives up a gut wrench to the Asia junior champion in par terre in the first period and is hit with a penalty for an incorrect starting position in par terre in the second period. A Japanese challenge was to no avail and another point is given to Ramonov. Shinjo was knocked out of medal contention when Ramonov lost in the second round.

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