japan national, yui susaki, susaki, dosho, higuchi, wrestling, Greco-Roman, ota, paris

Shock as Rio 2016 Silver-Medal Duo Fail to Make Japan Squad for Paris

By Ken Marantz

TOKYO (June 18) - Having an Olympic silver medal to one’s name is a remarkable accomplishment certainly worth being proud of. But as both Rei HIGUCHI and Shinobu OTA found out, it counts for little when the 2017 world team is being selected.

Both Higuchi and Ota, who won silver medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, failed to make Japan's team to this summer's World Championships in Paris after going down to defeat on the final day of the three-day Japan National Invitational Championships in Tokyo.

Higuchi, the freestyle runner-up at 57kg in Rio de Janeiro, lost in the 61kg final to longtime collegiate rival Rinya NAKAMURA, 14-5, and then blew an early lead and dropped a 9-5 decision in a special world team wrestle-off as Nakamura snatched the berth to Paris.

Asian champion Kenichiro FUMITA, having defeated Ota for the Greco-Roman 59kg crown at the National Championships in December, needed only one win over Ota on Sunday, which he wrapped up with a 6-2 victory in the featherweight final to punch his ticket to Paris. 

"I've been to a number of world championships as a warm-up partner and watched the competition right in front of my eyes, which was really hard to take," Fumita said.

"I thought I have to make it there myself and win a medal. That has now become a reality and I will be going as a competitor, so I'll aim for the top and get myself ready."

For the Japanese men, selection is based on the results from the two national competitions. The winners at the December championships, known as the Emperor's Cup, automatically clinched a world team berth by winning the invitational meet, called the Meiji Cup. 

Two more categories in the men’s disciplines on Sunday were also decided in playoff bouts. 

In freestyle, Yuhi FUJINAMI posted a pair of one-sided victories at 70kg over Emperor's Cup champion and Asian bronze medalist Momojiro NAKAMURA, rolling to a 10-0 technical fall in 1:14 of the semifinal, then repeating that score in 4:28 of the wrestle-off.

In between the two wins over Nakamura, Fujinami earned a place in the playoff by sweeping past defending champion Nobuyoshi TAKOJIMA, 10-2, in the final.

Atsushi MATSUMOTO continues to make progress in his transition from freestyle to Greco-Roman, although the Emperor's Cup champion at 85kg needed a hard-fought 4-1 victory over Kanta SHIOKAWA in the playoff to make the team to Paris.

Matsumoto, who won the Asian title in New Delhi in May, lost in the semifinals, 2-1, to Masato SUMI, who in turn fell 4-1 to Shiokawa in the final.

Matsumoto, whose brother Ryutaro was a London 2012 bronze medalist in Greco-Roman, won the last of his five Meiji Cup freestyle titles last year before switching to Greco-Roman after failing to qualify for Rio de Janeiro.

Fumita and Ota have been well aware of each other for years as former teammates at Nippon Sport Science University, where the 21-year-old Fumita is still a student. Ota and Fumita, currently ranked No.2 and No.3 by United World Wrestling, continue to train together at NSSU.

Fumita grabbed the spotlight when he knocked off the Rio 2016 silver medalist at the Emperor's Cup, then went on to win the gold medal at the Asian Championships. But Ota showed he was not ready to yield easily when he beat Fumita in the final of the Cerro Pelado International in Cuba.

"In February, I lost to him in the final in Cuba, that was really disappointing," Fumita said. "I took part in the Asian Championships and won, but was not satisfied with my performance. So I put everything into preparing for this tournament."

In the final, both wrestlers gained a point on the opponent's passivity when Ota was awarded a second to put him ahead with less than a minute left in the bout. But, at that precise moment, Fumita executed a back drop to regain the lead. He added a second a short time later to clinch the victory, which he celebrated with a back flip.

"I wasn't scared," Fumita said of falling behind late in the match. "I didn't feel the need to panic. If I don't make a mistake, one minute is enough time. Keeping calm led to my getting points."

Ironically, both wrestlers cut it close in the semifinals. Fumita was trailing, 2-2, on criteria to Hayanobu SHIMIZU when he scored with a throw with 40 seconds left to win, 4-2. Likewise, Ota fell behind, 2-0, to Masuto KAWANA before grabbing a decisive takedown in a wild flurry with 4:20 left.

"I thought I was prepared," Ota said. "But I couldn't attack like I needed to."

Like Fumita and Ota, Nakamura and Higuchi are quite familiar with each other, having faced each other going back to their days in youth wrestling and more recently as collegiate rivals. Nakamura goes to Senshu University, while Higuchi is among the strong group at NSSU.

"We've had over 10 matches, but this is the first time since junior high school that I won in an individual tournament," said Nakamura, who won the Meiji Cup at 57kg last year. "So it makes me feel like I've gotten over a wall."

In the final, Nakamura scored big with counters to Higuchi's single-leg takedown attempts, gaining four points with one crotch lift and two with another. He led 8-2 after the first period before finishing up the 14-5 win.

Higuchi was more cautious in the playoff, and built up a 5-1 lead early in the second period. But Nakamura cut the gap with another lift to counter a takedown, then went ahead with a single-leg takedown followed by an ankle roll with 50 seconds left. 

"Today I was not good enough to win," said Higuchi, who suffered a surprise semifinal loss at New Delhi 2017 and had to settle for a bronze medal. "He (Nakamura) did his research on me very well. I wasn't strong enough."

Nakamura's victory capped his recovery from shoulder surgery which he underwent following last year's tournament. It was Higuchi's performance in Rio that motivated him.

"It was from the hospital bed that I saw Higuchi perform so well," Nakamura said. "I thought he looked so cool. The only things I could do while I was injured I went all out to do, and that paid off today."

No Stopping the Golden Girls

There were no surprises in the women's competition, in which Rio gold medalists Risako KAWAI (60kg) and Sara DOSHO (69kg) had little trouble winning titles after skipping last year’s tournament. 

Teen titan Yui SUSAKI picked up her second straight title at 48kg with Rio 2016 champion Eri TOSAKA still on the sidelines, scoring all of her points in the first period and holding on for 3-0 victory in the final over junior world champ Miho IGARASHI.

All three, who won gold medals at the Asian Championships, are all but certain to be on the team for Paris, but will have to wait for confirmation until a later date. Unlike the men, the women's team will be chosen by the Japan Wrestling Federation based on the results of the two national tournaments and other factors.

Kawai, who was awarded the Meiji Cup as the tournament MVP, had an early scare in the final against defending champion Yui SAKANO, giving up a four-point throw.

But she soon took control and stormed back to win by technical fall, 14-4, at 5:02. It was her third career title after winning in 2012 at 51kg and in 2015 at 63kg.

"I knew she was an opponent that likes to use that throw," Kawai said. "I was doing only what I wanted to do and wasn’t paying attention to what my opponent was doing."

Assuming she is selected for Paris, Kawai will aim for her first world gold after taking a silver medal at 63kg in 2015.

"I don't think I can win if I keep going like this," Kawai said. "I have to rethink what I am doing from the beginning."

Dosho, a three-time world medalist also looking for her first gold, jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the final against high school student Miwa MORIKAWA before finishing up a 12-1 technical fall in 4:35.

Dosho had a tougher time in her only other match, a 4-2 win the semifinals over Chiaki IIJIMA, en route to her fifth career title and first since 2015. 

Results

Freestyle

61kg (12 entries)

Final - Rinya NAKAMURA df. Rei HIGUCHI, 14-5
3rd Place - Taishi NARIKUNI and Shoya SHIMAE

70kg (12 entries)

Final - Yuhi FUJINAMI df. Nobuyoshi TAKOJIMA, 10-2
3rd Place - Momojiro NAKAMURA and Shun ITO

Greco-Roman

59kg (13 entries)

Final - Kenichiro FUMITA df. Shinobu OTA, 6-2
3rd Place - Hayanobu SHIMIZU and Masuto KAWANA

85kg (8 entries)

Final - Kanta SHIOKAWA df. Masato SUMI, 4-1
3rd Place - Atsushi MATSUMOTO and Taichi OKA

Women's Wrestling

48kg (9 entries)

Final - Yui SUSAKI df. Miho IGARASHI, 3-0
3rd Place -Yuki IRIE and Miyu NAKAMURA 

60kg (7 entries)

Final - Risako KAWAI df. Yui SAKANO by TF, 14-4, 5:02
3rd Place - Atena KODAMA and Miki KAWAUCHI

69kg (6 entries)

Final - Sara DOSHO df. Miwa MORIKAWA by TF, 12-1, 4:35
3rd Place - Chiaki IIJIMA and Yuka KAGAMI

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! October 15, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Reviewing Snyder's move, the list of returning U23 world champions who'll wrestle in Budapest, and the newly-released 2020 Ranking Series locations. Also looking at results from the ANOC World Beach Games, Dmitri Korkin and Continental Cup. 

1. World and Olympic Champion Snyder On the Move 
Late last week, the American training scene felt a monumental shift in training centers power after arguably the biggest transfer in recent memory took place.

Kyle SNYDER (USA), the two-time world and Olympic champion, took to social media to announce that he’d be transferring training centers. In that post, Snyder said, “The simple truth is I need to get better. In order for me to fulfill my obligations as a member of Team USA and as the defending Olympic champ, I must give full effort and take complete responsibility for this process.” 

Snyder's move comes just under a month after "Capitan American" fell to his "worst" World Championships finish in his storied career. Snyder failed to make the world finals for the first time in his career after slipping to fellow Olympic champion Sharif SHARIFOV (AZE), 5-2, in the semifinals. After that loss, Snyder bounced back to a win his fifth consecutive world or Olympic medal. He now has an Olympic gold medal, a pair of world titles, and a world silver and bronze on his resume. 

The Nittany Lion Training Center move will give Snyder the opportunity to train alongside 2018 world champion David TAYLOR (USA), among many other world medalists. He'll be coached by Olympic champions Cael SANDERSON (USA) and Jake VARNER (USA), who won their Olympic titles in 2004 and 2012, respectively. 

 Italy hosted the Sassari City Tournament in Sassari, Italy in 2019. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

2. 2020 Ranking Series Location Announced 
United World Wrestling has announced Rome and Warsaw as hosts of the 2020 Ranking Series. Both events will include all three wrestling styles: freestyle, women’s wrestling, and Greco-Roman and will influence seeding for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Rome will host its competition January 15-18, while Warsaw will welcome wrestlers June 4-7 – one month after the final Olympic qualification tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.

“We are pleased to announce our host cities for the 2020 Ranking Series,” said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic. “There was outstanding participation at the 2019 events, which helped create excitement around our wrestlers and the World Championships in Nur-Sultan. We thank the local organizing committees in Rome and Warsaw for hosting these events.”

Click HERE to read full release on the 2020 Ranking Series event schedule.

Reigning senior-level Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) headlines a list of ten returning U23 world champions. (Photo: Tony Rotundo) 

3. U23 World Championships to Feature 10 Returning Champs
The U23 World Championships are less than two weeks away and reigning senior-level Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) headlines a list of entries that boasts one-third of last year’s U23 world champions. 

As the (unofficial) early entries currently sit, there are 631 athletes from 64 different nations that'll wrestle in Budapest, Hungary from October 28 through November 3. But ten of those 631 wrestlers return to the U23 World Championships looking to defend their world titles from a year ago. 

Greco-Roman will have five returning worlds champions -- headlined by reigning senior-level world champion Nugzari Tsurtsumia, who just reached the top of the 55kg podium at the Nur-Sultan World Championships in late September. He'll be joined in Budapest by fellow Georgian Zviadi PATARIDZE (GEO), who already has six age-group world titles to his name. 

The other three returning U23 Greco-Roman world champions are Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY), Katsuaki ENDO (JPN) and Semen NOVIKOV (UKR). 

El Sayed, who qualified Egypt for the Olympic Games at 67kg, will wrestle at 67kg -- which is the same weight as Japan's Katsuaki Endo, while Novikov will lace up at 87kg. 

Freestyle has a trio of returning U23 world champions. They are Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK), Kamran GHASEMPOUR (IRI) and Shamil ZUBAIROV (AZE). They'll compete at 74kg, 86kg and 92kg, respectively. 

In women's wrestling, Japan's Saki IGARASHI (55kg) and China's Paliha PALIHA (76kg) will travel to Hungary to try to defend their titles from a year ago. 

Returning U23 World Champions: 
Freestyle 
74kg - Taimuraz SALKAZANOV (SVK) 
86kg - Kamran Ghorban GHASEMPOUR (IRI) 
92kg - Shamil ZUBAIROV (AZE) 

Greco-Roman 
55kg - Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO) 
67kg - Mohamed ELSAYED (EGY) 
67kg - Katsuaki ENDO (JPN) 
87kg - Semen NOVIKOV (UKR) 
130kg - Zviadi PATARIDZE (GEO) 

Women’s Wrestling 
55kg - Saki IGARASHI (JPN)
76kg - Paliha PALIHA (CHN) 

4. Inam Takes out Olympic Bronze Medalist Marsagishvili in ANOC World Beach Games Finals
Muhammad INAM (PAK) avenged his loss from the Rio De Janeiro stop of the Beach Wrestling World Series by scoring a stunning 5-2 win over London Olympic bronze medalist Dato MARSAGISHVILI (GEO). Inam's win came in the 90kg gold-medal match at the ANOC World Beach Games. 

Coming into the ANOC World Beach Games, Marsagishvili was unquestionably the favorite to win a World Beach Games gold medal. This season, the Georgian wrestler was undefeated with Beach Wrestling World Series titles in Chaves and Rio de Janeiro, along with a gold medal at September’s UWW Beach Wrestling World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. 

Inam, the Beach Wrestling World Series runner-up in Rio De Janeiro, won his first beach wrestling gold medal with the three-point advantage over Marsagishvili in the 90kg finals. 

Click HERE for results from the first day of wrestling at the ANOC World Beach Games. 

Alexander BOGOMOEV (RUS) won the 61kg title at the Dmitri Korkin (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

5. Dmitri Korkin and Continental Cup Wrap up in Russia
The 12th Annual Dmitri Korkin and Continental Cup wrapped up last weekend in Russia and the host nation won eight of ten titles at both tournaments.

The Dmitri Korkin, which took place in eastern Siberia in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), saw eight of ten Russian wrestlers win a gold medal.

The pair of non-Russian champs were Peter IANULOV (MDA) and Daniel LIGETI (HUN). Ianulov, the 15th-place finisher in Nur-Sultan, defeated three-time European runner-up Alexander GOSTIEV (AZE) to win his 86kg title. Ligeti, who was also a 15th-place finisher in Nur-Sultan, beat Russian Nationals bronze-medal finisher Pavel KRIVTSOV (RUS) to win the 125kg gold medal. 

The second tournament where Russia claimed eight of ten gold medals was the Continental Cup in Khasavyurt, which is located to the west of the Republic of Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala. 

The two non-Russian wrestlers to win a Continental Cup title were Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) and Georgy RUBAEV (MDA). Dauletbekov, a 2017 U23 world runner-up, won the 86kg title with a win over Arsenali MUSALALIEV (RUS), while Rubaev, this year’s world fifth-place finisher (92kg), stopped Gadzhimagomed NAZMUDINOV (RUS) in the 92kg finals. 

Dmitri Korkin RESULTS
57kg 
GOLD - Zhargal DAMDINOV (RUS)
SILVER - Arıyan TYUTRIN (RUS)
BRONZE - Aldar BALZINIMAEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Parviz IBRAGIMOV (AZE) 

61kg
GOLD - Alexander BOGOMOEV (RUS)
SILVER - Kazuya KOYANAGI (JPN)
BRONZE – Eduard GRIGORIEV (RUS)
BRONZE – Peter PAVLOV (RUS)

65kg 
GOLD - Victor RASSADIN (RUS) 
SILVER - Nʹurgun SCRAIABIN (BLR) 
BRONZE - Genghis ERDOGAN (TUR) 
BRONZE - Bulat BATOEV (RUS)

70kg
GOLD - Evgeny ZHERBAEV (RUS)
SILVER - Arbak SAT (RUS)
BRONZE - Revolii SAMSONOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Timur NINKOLAEV (RUS)

74kg
GOLD - Nadirbeg HIZRIEV (RUS)
SILVER - Nikita KNOTS (RUS)
BRONZE - Caballero GARZON (CUB) 
BRONZE - Hadzhimurad HAJIYEV (AZE)

79kg
GOLD - Tazhidin AKAYEV (RUS)
SILVER - Abubakr ABAKAROV (AZE)
BRONZE - Akhmad TASHUKHADZHIEV (RUS) 
BRONZE - Logan MASSA (USA)

86kg
GOLD - Peter IANULOV (MDA)
SILVER - Alexander GOSTIEV (AZE)
BRONZE - Krzysztof SADOVIK (POL)

92kg
GOLD - Guram CHERTKOEV (RUS) 
SILVER - Anzor URISHEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Marzapet GALSTYAN (ARM) 
BRONZE - Ivan YANKOSKY (BRL)

97kg
GOLD - Igor OVSANNIKOV (RUS)
SILVER - Maksoud VEJSALOV (UZB) 
BRONZE - George DIMITROV (BUL)

125kg
GOLD - Daniel LIGETI (HUN) 
SILVER - Pavel KRIVTSOV (RUS) 
BRONZE - Baldan TSYZHIPOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Zelimkhan KHIZRIEV (RUS)

Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) was one of two non-Russian wrestlers to win a gold medal at the Continental Cup. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

Continental Cup RESULTS
57kg
GOLD - Abubakar MUTALIEV (RUS)
SILVER - Hasanhuseyn BADRUDINOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Thomas GILMAN (USA) 
BRONZE - Azamat TUSHKAEV (RUS) 

61kg 
GOLD - Ibrahim ABDURAKHMANOV (RUS)
SILVER - Rustam KARAKHANOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Artem GEBEKOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Kilyab HANIPAEV (RUS)

65kg
GOLD - Ramadan FERZALIEV (RUS)
SILVER - Evan HENDERSON (USA) 
BRONZE - Alibek OSMONOV (KGZ) 
BRONZE - Vazgen TEYANYAN (ARM)

70kg
GOLD - Aznaur TAVAEV (RUS)
SILVER - Frank MOLINARO (USA) 
BRONZE - Gitinomagomed HAJIYEV (AZE) 
BRONZE - Umar MUTALIEV (RUS)

74kg
GOLD - Magomed KHIZRIEV (RUS)
SILVER - Magoma DIBIRGADZHIEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Gadzhimurad ALIKHMAEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Amanula RASULOV (RUS)

79kg 
GOLD - Atsamaz SANAKOEV (RUS)
SILVER - Isaiah MARTINEZ (USA)
BRONZE - Adam KHASIEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Magomed MUTALIBOV (RUS)

86kg
GOLD - Azamat DAULETBEKOV (KAZ) 
SILVER - Arsenali MUSALALIEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Zhavrail SHAPIEV (UZB) 
BRONZE - Khabib HAJIYEV (RUS)

92kg
GOLD - Georgy RUBAEV (MDA) 
SILVER - Gadzhimagomed NAZMUDINOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Muslim MAGOMEDOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Ramadan SHABANOV (RUS)

97kg
GOLD - Rasul MAGOMEDOV (RUS)
SILVER - Hayden ZILMER (USA) 
BRONZE - Magomed TAGIROV (RUS)
BRONZE - Tai WALTZ (USA)

125kg
GOLD - Batraz GAZZAYEV (RUS)
SILVER - Magomedgadzhi NURASULOV (RUS)
BRONZE - Alan KHUGAEV (RUS)
BRONZE - Shamil SHARIPOV (RUS)

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 

1. Big Move Monday -- Sharshenbekov T. (KGZ) -- Senior Worlds 2019
2. Sunday smiles! 😃
3. Here are few moments that stand out for us from World Championships. 
4. Check out some of the best action from day 6 medal matches here at the 2019 Veterans World Championship.
5. A beautiful sequence from Turkey's Murat Ozkan. | #beachwrestling #wrestling

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Sunday smiles! 😃

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