NEW DELHI (May 11) - Japan, shut out of the medals on the opening day of the Asian Senior Wrestling Championships, will come away with the maximum five after all three of its Greco-Roman wrestlers and its two women in action Thursday advanced to the finals.
Kenichiro FUMITA (59kg), who had to defeat Rio 2016 silver medalist Shinobu OTA to make the team for India, scored a 4-point throw in the second period and defeated Saman ABDOUVALI (IRI), 9-4, in the semifinals.
Japanese compatriots Takeshi IZUMI (71kg) and Greco-Roman neophyte Atsushi MATSUMOTO (85kg) will have to get over their Iranian walls in the finals, and they will be quite substantial.
Defending champion Afshin BYABANGARD (IRI), the 2014 world bronze medalist, awaits Izumi as he tries to add to the three golds Iran won on the opening day, while Matsumoto will tangle with Hossein NOURI (IRI).
While Japan expected success from its lightweights, Matsumoto was very much an unknown quantity. Matsumoto was a three-time national champion and 2015 Asia silver medalist in freestyle who switched to Greco-Roman after failing to make the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
"In the lighter weights, we’re among the top standard in the world, so we went in confident," Japanese Greco-Roman coach Masatoshi TOYOTA said. "Matsumoto came from freestyle, but he’s strong in getting his arms in and putting pressure on an opponent. He focused on that in his matches and produced good results."
In the semifinals, Matsumoto gave up an early 4-point throw to Muhammadali SHAMSIDDINOV (UZB), but gradually wore down his foe and posted an 11-4 victory.
Fumita, winner of the 2016 Golden Grand Prix Final, earned his ticket to New Delhi when he beat Ota at the Japan national championships in December. In the final, he will face Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ), who will try to add a gold to the bronze medal he won last year in Bangkok.
What is expected to be a Japanese juggernaut in women’s wrestling got off to a solid start when junior world champs Ayana GEMPEI (63kg) and Masako FURUICHI (75kg) both advanced to their respective finals.
Gempei, also a three-time Asian junior champ, put herself in line for a senior continental crown after surviving a tough quarterfinal with WANG Xiaoqian (CHN).
Wang used a takedown and three rolls to take an 8-2 lead into the second period. But Gempei patiently worked her double-leg tackles and stormed back for a 14-8 win.
"That was dangerous," Gempei said of falling behind. "But I could get in on a tackle in the first period, so I knew I could go for that."
Furuichi had a bye into semifinals, where she quickly dispatched Jyoti JYOTI (IND) by techical fall in 1:25 after building up a 10-0 lead.
59kg (12 entries)
Gold - Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) v Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN)
Bronze – Kaly SULAIMANOV (KGZ) v Saman ABDOUVALI (IRI)
Bronze – RI Sin Myong (PRK) v Li JIANG (CHN)
Semifinal – Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Saman ABDOUVALI (IRI), 9-4
Semifinal – Mirambek AINAGULOV (KAZ) df. Li JIANG (CHN) by TF, 9-0, 1:49
71kg (10 entries)
Gold - Afshin BYABANGARD (IRI) v Takeshi IZUMI (JPN)
Bronze – Peerapol SIRITHONG (THA) v KIM Jihun (KOR)
Bronze – Deepak DEEPAK (IND) v Nurgazy ASANGULOV (KGZ)
Semifinal – Takeshi IZUMI (JPN) df. KIM Jihun (KOR), 2-1
Semifinal – Afshin BYABANGARD (IRI) df. Nurgazy ASANGULOV (KGZ), 5-4
85 kg (10 entries)
Gold - Atsushi MATSUMOTO (JPN) v Hossein NOURI (IRI)
Bronze – Kumar ANIL (IND) v Muhammadali SHAMSIDDINOV (UZB)
Bronze – PENG Fei (CHN) v Azamat KUSTUBAYEV (KAZ)
Semifinal – Atsushi MATSUMOTO (JPN) df. Muhammadali SHAMSIDDINOV (UZB), 11-4
Semifinal – Hossein NOURI (IRI) df. Azamat KUSTUBAYEV (KAZ), 3-2
63 kg (9 entries)
Gold - SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL) v Ayana GEMPEI (JPN)
Bronze – HANG Jinyoung (KOR) v Ritu RITU (IND)
Bronze – WANG Xiaoqian (CHN) v RI Yunsim (PRK)
Semifinal – SORONZONBOLD Battsetseg (MGL) df. Ritu RITU (IND) by Fall, 2:39 (12-2)
Semifinal – Ayana GEMPEI (JPN) df. RI Yunsim (PRK), 6-0
75 kg (7 entries)
Gold - Masako FURUICHI (JPN) v PALIHA Paliha (CHN)
Bronze – Gulmaral YERKEBAYEVA (KAZ) v GANOCHIR Urtnasar (MGL)
Semifinal – Masako FURUICHI (JPN) df. Jyoti JYOTI (IND) by TF, 10-0, 1:25
Semifinal – PALIHA Paliha (CHN) df. GANOCHIR Urtnasar (MGL) by Fall, 2:47 (4-2)