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


TOKYO (December 22) – World champion Hitomi Sakamoto overcame a slow start and defeated former junior world champ Fuyuko Mimura by fall for her first title at 48kg at the All-Japan National Championships. Sakamoto, wrestling in the All-Japan meet for the first time since 2007, surrendered points in each of her first three matches but came out smoking in the final, taking Mimura to her back with a single-leg and far-arm takedown combination and then pressing for the fall.

“In my first three matches, I stepped onto the mat with some doubts on my mind, thinking about how tough top-level competition is,” said Sakamoto, who appeared to wrestle tentatively after finishing with only a bronze medal at last month's Asian Games. “I don't know if it was a change in the air or just that it was the last match,” Sakamoto said of the championship final, “but I felt confident and went out and wrestled well.” Sakamoto, who won her seventh world title in September, had previously won five All-Japan championships – all at 51kg. The Aomori native, who turns 30 on January 4, came out of retirement last year in a bid to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Also on the second day of competition at Yoyogi National Gymnasium, world No. 2 Yu Horiuchi had little trouble in regaining the 51kg All-Japan title she first won in 2008.

In greco-roman, Asian Games champion Kohei Hasegawa edged National Sports Festival winner Ryo Minemura in the 55kg final for his fourth straight All-Japan crown. World silver medalist Ryutaro Matsumoto triumphed for a second year at 60kg while Hirokazu Shinjo edged rival Atsushi Nakamura for his second straight and fourth overall title at 120kg.

In men's freestyle, Asian Games silver medal winner Kazuyuki Nagashima stopped sports festival champ Takayuki Suzuki for a fifth straight championship at 74kg and Asian Games bronze medalist Takao Isokawa repeated as 96kg champion.

Men's freestyle
74kg (15 entries)
F1 – Kazuyuki Nagashima df. Takayuki Suzuki, 2-0 (4-0, 3-0)
SF – Nagashima df. Sosuke Takatani, 2-0 (3x-3=big, 2-1)
SF – Suzuki df. Ryuta Takahashi, 2-0 (1x-1=last, 4-0)
(Nagashima wins 5th straight, 5th overall All-Japan title)

96kg (16 entries)
F1 – Takao Isokawa df. Yoshitaka Shimoyashiki, 2-0 (4-0, 3-1)
SF – Isokawa df. Kenzo Sakamoto, 2-0 (4-0, 1-0)
SF – Shimoyashiki df. Takao Baba by fall, 1P=1:49 (F4-1)
(Isokawa wins 2nd straight All-Japan title)

55kg (18 entries)
F1 – Kohei Hasegawa df. Ryo Minemura, 2-1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)
SF – Hasegawa df. Takuya Tei, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
SF – Minemura df. Tomoya Murata, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)
(Hasegawa wins 4th straight, 4th overall All-Japan title)

60 kg (14 entries)
F1 – Ryutaro Matsumoto df. Kazuma Kuramoto, 2-1 (2-0, 0-3, 4-0)
SF – Matsumoto df. Shinya Yano, 2-0 (2-0, 6-0=1:45)
SF – Kuramoto df. Yasuyuki Tanioka, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 1-0)
(Matsumoto wins 2nd straight All-Japan title)

120kg (8 entries)
F1 – Hirokazu Shinjo df. Atsushi Nakamura, 2-1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)
SF – Shinjo df. Nobuo Tanida, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
SF – Nakamura df. Katsutoshi Maekawa, 2-0 (1-0, 3-1)
(Shinjo wins 2nd straight, 4th overall All-Japan title)

Women's freestyle
48kg (25 entries)
F1 – Hitomi Sakamoto df. Fuyuko Mimura by fall, 1P=0:43 (F4-0)
SF – Sakamoto df. Chinami Abe, 2-0 (2-1, 1-0)
SF – Mimura df. Yuri Kai,2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
(Sakamoto wins first All-Japan title in three years, 6th overall)

51kg (21 entries)
F1 – Yu Horiuchi df. Hikari Sugawara, 2-0 (3-0, 1-0)
SF – Horiuchi df. Yu Miyahara, 2-0 (5-0, 2-0)
SF – Sugawara df. Nanami Irie by fall, 2P=1:54 (2-2x=big, F3-2)
(Horiuchi wins 2nd All-Japan title, first since 2008)

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