TOKYO (May 27) – Japan rolled over Russia for its first women’s World Cup title since 2006 but the triumph was bittersweet as world and Olympic champion Saori Yoshida and five-time former world champ Kyoko Hamaguchi both fell in the final.
The victory at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium complex in Tokyo was Japan’s sixth title overall since the World Cup of women’s wrestling was first launched in 2001.
But, Japanese wrestling fans and officials were in little mood to celebrate following Yoshida’s first loss since 2008 and Hamaguchi’s third loss of the World Cup tourney.
In the championship final, Japan’s three entries in the non-Olympic weight categories quickly forged a 3-0 lead for the home team and world champion Hitomi Obara pinned former junior European champ Lubov Salnikova at 48kg to secure the team victory for the hosts.
Yoshida, however, was stunned at 55kg by junior world bronze medalist Valeria Zholobova in three periods to end her 58-match winning streak. It was Yoshida’s first loss since falling in January 2008 to Marcie Van Dusen (USA) at the World Cup meet in Taiyuan, China.
The loss was also Yoshida’s first on Japanese mats since December 2001 when she was tripped up by Seiko Yamamoto in the Japanese national championship semifinals.
Despite the loss, Yoshida, with nine world titles, will remain a favorite for the gold medal when she heads to this summer’s Olympic Games in London. Zholobova, meanwhile, made a strong case to be included on the Russian Olympic team after wins over Yoshida and world runner-up Tonya Verbeek (CAN) in the World Cup preliminaries.
Another Japanese favorite, Hamaguchi was tripped to her back by junior world champ Natalia Vorobeva and held for the fall at 72kg.
Meanwhile, Kaori Icho edged rival Lubov Volossova at 63kg for her fourth win of the competition, joining Obara and Yu Miyahara (51kg) in the undefeated ranks for the tourney for Japan.
In the dual for third place, defending champion China rebounded from its loss to Japan the previous day to take a 5-2 win from Canada.
Japan 5, Russia 2
51kg – Yu Miyahara df. Alena Adashinskaya, 2-0 (6-2, 3-2)
59kg – Takako Saito df. Ekaterina Melnikova, 2-0 (1x-1=last, 2-0)
67kg – Sara Dosho df. Yulia Prontsevich by fall, 2P=0:58 (3-1, F4-0)
48kg – Hitomi Obara df. Lubov Salnikova by fall, 3P=0:32 (1-1x=last, 3-0, F3-0)
55kg – Saori Yoshida lost to Valeria Zholobova, 1-2 (2-1, 0-2, 0-3)
63kg – Kaori Icho df. Lubov Volossova, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
72kg – Kyoko Hamaguchi lost to Natalia Vorobeva by fall, 1P=1:10 (F7-0)
F1 – Japan 5, Russia 2
F3 – China 5, Canada 2
F5 – Ukraine 5, Mongolia 2
F7 – United States 5, Azerbaijan 2