NEW DELHI (May 12) - The slam of the referee’s hand on the mat, declaring Rio 2016 gold medalist Sara DOSHO (69kg) the winner by fall, provided the perfect punctuation to Japan’s unblemished day at the Asian Senior Championships.
One by one, all five Japanese women wrestlers in action on Day Three stormed into the finals and one by one each walked away with a gold medal, a five-for-five performance that only further confirmed Japan’s preeminence in women’s wrestling.
Risako KAWAI (60kg), like Dosho, added a second straight Asian title to her Rio 2016 gold medal, and she did it with a dominant performance in which she put away three straight opponents with 10-0 technical falls.
While the high-profile Olympic champions drew the spotlight, the teen titan trio of Yui SUSAKI (48kg), world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (53kg) and Sae NANJO (55kg) were just as impressive in earning their first senior continental golds.
"The young wrestlers really did a great job," women’s head coach Hideo SASAYAMA (JPN) said of the trio, who are all products of the Japan Olympic Committee’s elite academy.
As a prelude to their Asian triumphs, Susaki, Mukaida and Nanjo all won titles at the Yarygin Grand Prix in January, while Susaki added a second gold at the Klippan Open in February. The trio also captured their first senior national championship titles last December.
Three of Japan’s victories Friday came at the expense of wrestlers from host India, whose presence in the finals raised the level of excitement and the volume at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex wrestling stadium.
"I had to go against a wrestler from India, and the crowd really supported her," said Kawai, who defeated Rio 2016 bronze medalist Sakshi MALIK (IND) in the 60kg final. "So I felt the pressure. It was good that I could win among that, and it’s a good experience."
The 17-year-old Susaki, the three-time reigning world cadet champion, got the ball rolling on the golden sweep for Japan when she put on a takedown clinic in overwhelming KIM Sonhyang (PRK) with a 10-0 technical fall that was stopped at 5:32.
Susaki used various techniques to rip off four takedowns in the first period -- an ankle pick, a duck under, as well as a classic double-leg. Her fluid motion and natural instinct belies the fact that she is still a high school student.
"This was a tournament that I had set my sights on and I was able to win the title, so I’m happy," Susaki said. "But I found many things that I need to reflect on. When I get back to Japan, I will put extra effort into what I hope leads to better things."
As entertaining as it was watching Susaki score takedown after takedown, her shortcoming seemed to be an inability to add to her tally on the ground. "That’s something I need to work on," she said.
Mukaida, who turns 20 next month, followed with a victory by fall in 3:46 over Zhuldyz ESHIMOVA (KAZ). The world 55kg champion built up a 6-0 lead in the first period, then opened the second period with a 4-point tackle that sent Eshimova to her back, and would have ended match anyway had Mukaida not finished the job.
Next up was the 17-year-old Nanjo, who was the first to face an Indian opponent. Against two-time Asian medalist Vinesh VINESH (IND), Nanjo emulated Mukaida with a six-point first period, only to see Vinesh fight back with counter moves that exposed the Japanese’s back and cut the lead to 6-4.
But with the partisan crowd urging Vinesh on as the clock wound down, Nanjo resisted a desperate attempt for a roll and instead added two more points to her own tally for an 8-4 victory.
Kawai gave the crowd little to cheer about in crushing Malik. After taking the local favorite to her back for a 4-point move, Kawai secured a second takedown, then executed two rolls to finish off the match in 2:44.
In the final bout of the evening session, Dosho, a three-time world medalist, completed the sweep with a victory by fall over young Divya KAKRAN (IND), an Asian 2015 cadet champion.
Dosho showed that her toughest matches of the day were behind her when, having built up a 6-0 lead, she scored a takedown that led straight to the fall at 4:15. Not that Dosho was completely satisfied with the effort.
"I wasn’t able to put on a full attack, so I’m not all that satisfied," Dosho said. "I don’t think it was a very good match."
Earlier, Dosho avenged a loss at the 2015 world championships to ZHOU Feng (CHN) with a thrilling 7-7 victory in which the lead changed hands four times in the final period, with Dosho getting the victory on a 2-point exposure in the closing seconds.
In the bronze medal matches, the host nation added to its tally when Ritu RITU (IND) was awarded a win by default at 48kg over defending champion SUN Yanan (CHN), who had suffered a side injury during her semifinal loss to Susaki.
Irina BORISSOVA (KAZ), the runner-up to Sun in 2016, took home a bronze this time after beating Saiana BAIYZOVA (KGZ), 10-4.
The most entertaining of the third-place matches came at 60kg, in which ZHOU Zhangting (CHN) withstood a furious comeback by BAATARJAV Shoovdor (MGL) to notch a 15-12 victory.
ZHOU Feng (CHN) rebounded from her disappointing loss to Dosho to take the bronze with a victory by fall in 5:18 over Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ).
48kg (13 entries)
Gold - Yui SUSAKI (JPN) df. KIM Sonhyang (PRK) by TF, 10-0, 5:32
Bronze – Ritu RITU (IND) df. SUN Yanan (CHN) by Injury Default, 0:00
Bronze – Irina BORISSOVA (KAZ) df. Saiana BAIYZOVA (KGZ), 10-4
53kg (12 entries)
Gold - Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN) df. Zhuldyz ESHIMOVA (KAZ) by Fall, 3:46 (10-0)
Bronze – JONG Myongsuk (PRK) df. PANG Qianyu (CHN), 8-1
Bronze – KIM Hyungjoo (KOR) df. CHIU Hsin-Ju (TPE), 8-0
55kg (10 entries)
Gold - Sae NANJO (JPN) df. Vinesh VINESH (IND), 8-4
Bronze – ZHANG Qi (CHN) df. Sevara ESHMURATOVA (UZB) by TF, 10-0, 3:23
Bronze – ERKHEMBAYAR Davaachimeg (MGL) df. LEE Shinhye (KOR), 4-0
60kg (8 entries)
Gold - Risako KAWAI (JPN) df. Sakshi MALIK (IND) by TF, 10-0, 2:44
Bronze – Ayaulym KASSYMOVA (KAZ) df. Nabira ESENBAEVA (UZB) by TF, 13-3, 5:44
Bronze – ZHOU Zhangting (CHN) df. BAATARJAV Shoovdor (MGL), 15-12
69kg (8 entries)
Gold - Sara DOSHO (JPN) df. Divya KAKRAN (IND) by Fall, 4:15 (8-0)
Bronze – PARK Hyeonyeong (KOR) df. HUANG Chen-Chi (TPE) by Fall, 1:32 (8-0)
Bronze – ZHOU Feng (CHN) df. Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ) by Fall, 5:18 (7-2)