NEW DELHI (May 11) - Japan was the big winner on the last day of Greco-Roman at the Asian Senior Championships with two gold medals and a silver, while its women had to settle for two silvers as that competition got underway on day 2.
Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) captured the 59kg title and Takeshi IZUMI (JPN) followed by dethroning defending champion Afshin BYABANGARD (IRI) at 71kg on Thursday. But hopes of a golden triple play fell short when Atsushi MATSUMOTO (JPN) lost in the 85kg final -- still not a bad showing as it was his first major tournament since switching from freestyle to Greco.
A pair of Japanese world junior champions made the finals of both women’s divisions, but neither Ayana GEMPEI (63kg) nor Masako FURUICHI (75kg) left the wrestling stadium at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex with gold medals.
Japan’s five-medal haul came a day after it was shut out of the medals on the opening day of the tournament. It also assured the men would not repeat their medal-less performance from last year’s Asian Championships in Bangkok.
In the Greco 58kg final, Fumita forced out Asian 2016 bronze medalist Mirambck AINAGULOV for the go-ahead point midway through the second period, and held on for a 2-1 victory.
Fumita made Japan’s team by beating Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shinobu OTA at the national championships in December, which he said boosted his confidence heading into New Delhi.
"I beat Ota which allowed me to compete in this tournament, so there was definitely confidence," Fumita said. "But I’ve been in various international tournaments, so the opponents have been able to study my style. I think I have to add another move."
The 21-year-old Fumita, who said he recalls defeating Ainagulov in Bulgaria when he was a high school student four years ago, added he was somewhat disappointed he could not score with his trademark big throw.
"I didn’t like that," he said. "I like to score big points with my favorite technique. The result was a victory, but it wasn’t the wrestling I like to do."
Like Fumita, Izumi also scored a 2-1 victory over Byabangard, with the winning point also coming when he forced the Iranian out. Izumi’s happened in the first period, when both wrestlers received a point for the opponent’s passivity.
Izumi revealed after the match that he had injured right heel ligaments in his 2-1 victory over KIM Jihun (KOR) in the semifinals, but battled the pain in the final. "I felt shooting pain up to my back," Izumi said.
At 85kg, Hossein NOURI (IRI) foiled Matsumoto’s bid for Greco glory by scoring a second-period takedown to secure a 4-2 victory that showed the difference in experience in the style.
Matsumoto was the Asian 2015 silver medalist and a three-time national champion in freestyle, but changed to Greco after failing to make Japan’s team to Rio 2016.
On Thursday, he had difficulty penetrating Nouri’s defenses, and scored both of his points by opponent passivity. Nouri twice powered the Japanese out of the circle in the first period.
"I still have a way to go," said Matsumoto, whose older brother Ryutaro won a silver medal in Greco at 60kg at the London 2012 Olympics. "But this gives me an indication of where I am, and I want to keep making the challenge."
Iran, behind golds in the four heaviest weight classes, topped the Greco-Roman team standings with 69 points. Korea and Kazakhstan finished with 59 points, but Korea was awarded second place based on the tiebreaking criteria.
In the women’s competition, Battsetseng SORONZONBOLD (MGL) denied Gempei a senior Asian title to go with her two junior golds when she recorded a late fall in the 63kg final.
Soronzonbold successfully fended off Gempei’s powerful tackles and led 2-0 after the first period, but Gempei tied the match by stopping a throw attempt for a 2-point takedown. After the Mongolian went ahead with a forceout, Gempei attempted a desperation tackle that Soronzonbold countered by slamming the Japanese onto her back for the fall at 5:58.
PALIHA Paliha (CHN) scored all of her points in the second period in notching an 8-1 victory over Japan’s Furuichi for the 75kg gold.
For both Mongolia and China, it was their first golds of the tournament.
Meanwhile, Kumar ANIL (IND) gave the host country its second Greco-Roman bronze medal of the tournament when he fought off his back and rallied to edge Muhammadali SHAMSIDDINOV (UZB), 7-6, at 85kg.
"I was just thinking to make a comeback at that moment," Anil said of his desperate bridging that got him out of danger. "I just wanted to come out of that position and be on top again. The crowd was cheering and that motivated me to do better."
The other 85kg bronze went to PENG Fei (CHN), who edged Azamat KUSTUBAYEV (KAZ), 2-1.
Iran secured its third medal of the day and seventh in the eight weight classes when Saman ABDOUVALI scored 4 points with a takedown and roll in the first period and went on to a 5-2 victory over Kaly SULAIMANOV (KGZ). RI Sin Myong (PRK) took the other bronze for the DP of Korea’s first medal.
59kg (12 entries)
Gold - Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ), 2-1
Bronze – Saman ABDOUVALI (IRI) df. Kaly SULAIMANOV (KGZ) 5-2
Bronze – RI Sin Myong (PRK) df. Li JIANG (CHN) 5-2
71kg (10 entries)
Gold - Takeshi IZUMI (JPN) df. Afshin BYABANGARD (IRI), 2-1
Bronze – KIM Jihun (KOR) df. Peerapol SIRITHONG (THA), TF, 1:35, 8-0
Bronze – Nurgazy ASANGULOV (KGZ) df. Deepak DEEPAK (IND), 8-1
85kg (10 entries)
Gold - Hossein NOURI (IRI) df. Atsushi MATSUMOTO (JPN), 4-2
Bronze – Kumar ANIL (IND) df. Muhammadali SHAMSIDDINOV (UZB), 7-6
Bronze – PENG Fei (CHN) df. Azamat KUSTUBAYEV (KAZ), 2-1
63kg (9 entries)
Gold - Battsetseg SORONZONBOLD (MGL) df. Ayana GEMPEI (JPN), FALL, 5:58 (7-2)
Bronze – HANG Jinyoung (KOR) df. Ritu RITU (IND), 1-1
Bronze – WANG Xiaoqian (CHN) df. RI Yunsim (PRK), 6-5
75kg (7 entries)
Gold - Paliha PALIHA (CHN) df. Masako FURUICHI (JPN), 8-1
Bronze – Gulmaral YERKEBAYEVA (KAZ) df. Urtnasan GAN OCHIR (MGL), FALL, :22 (4-0)