TOKYO (June 21) – World and Olympic Games champion Saori YOSHIDA held on through a late rally by upstart Nanami IRIE for a 5-3 win in the 53kg final and the outstanding wrestler award at the Meiji Cup invitational wrestling tournament.
Yoshida, 32, who has won 12 world titles and struck gold at three Olympic Games, built any early five-point lead against Irie, but was countered for two in the second period and then gave up a force-out for another before time ran out at Yoyogi Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Despite the close call, Yoshida won her third straight and fifth overall Meiji Cup title and was named the outstanding wrestler of the event which also serves as a world team trials for the Japanese.
Irie, a bronze medal winner at the Asian championships in early May, had earned her shot with a 2-1 win of 55kg world champion Chiho HAMADA in the semifinals. Hamada also fell in the bronze medal match to Youth Olympic Games gold medalist Mayu MUKAIDA.
Meanwhile, at 58kg, world and Olympic Games champion Kaori ICHO also won her fifth Meiji Cup crown and world champion Eri TOSAKA made it four in a row at 48kg. Both world champions, along with Yoshida, were later confirmed for the Japanese team headed to the world championships.
In the men’s events, Yuki TAKAHASHI, fifth in his world championship debut last year, defeated national champion Fumitaka MORISHITA in the 57kg final and again in a world team wrestle-off bout to earn his second trip to the world championships.
Shota TANOKURA, who has not had a sniff of the medals podium for two years, defeated national champ Kazuma KURAMOTO in the 59kg semifinals and Hungarian Grand Prix winner Shinobu OTA for the invitational crown.
Tanokura made his second greco-roman world team with a 10-0 drubbing of Kuramoto in only 70 seconds in the world team wrestle-off.
At 98kg, national champ Norikatsu SAIKAWA forfeited in the semifinals with an injury as Yasuhiro YONEHIRA rushed to the title and claimed his first world team berth. In freestyle, Asian runner-up Atsushi MATSUMOTO rolled to a victory at 86kg to book his ticket to the world championships.
57kg (11 entries)
F1 – Yuki TAKAHASHI df. Fumitaka MORISHITA, 4-2
F3 – Rinya NAKAMURA df. Yasuhiro MORITA by TF, 11-0, 4:10
SF – Morishita df. Morita, 6-0
SF – Takahashi df. Nakamura, 5-0
World Team Wrestle-Off – Yuki TAKAHASHI df. Fumitaka MORISHITA, 2-0
86kg (9 entries)
F1 – Atsushi MATSUMOTO df. Naoya AKAGUMA, 10-7
F3 – Shinya MATSUMOTO df. Takahiro MURAYAMA, 4-0
SF – A. Matsumoto df. Murayama by TF, 14-2, 3:31
SF – Akaguma df. S. Matsumoto by TF, 13-2, 4:25
59kg (14 entries)
F1 – Shota TANOKURA df. Shinobu OTA, 4-0
F3 – Kazuma KURAMOTO df. Kohei Hasegawa, 5-0
SF – Tanokura df. Kuramoto, 4-0
SF – Ota df. Hasegawa, 9-6
World Team Wrestle-Off – Shota TANOKURA df. Kazuma KURAMOTO by TF, 10-0, 1:10
98kg (11 entries)
F1 – Yasuhiro YONEHIRA df. Yusuke YAMAMOTO, 5-0
F3 – Akira OSAKA df. Norikatsu SAIKAWA by forfeit
SF – Yamamoto df. Saikawa by forfeit
SF – Yonehira df. Osaka by TF, 8-0, 2:28
48kg (12 entries)
F1 – Eri TOSAKA df. Yuki IRIE, 4-0
F3 – Mareka SHIDOCHI df. Anna IWAMURE by fall, 1:48 (4-0)
SF – Tosaka df. Shidochi, 8-2
SF – Irie df. Iwamure by TF, 10-0, 4:34
53kg (11 entries)
F1 – Saori YOSHIDA df. Nanami IRIE, 5-3
F3 – Mayu MUKAIDA df. Chiho HAMADA, 6-5
SF – Yoshida df. Mukaida, 8-2
SF – Irie df. Hamada, 2-1
58kg (3 entries, Round-Robin)
RR1 – Mikako HIGUCHI df. Nachi MASUDA by fall, 4:27 (16-3)
RR2 – Kaori ICHO df. Masuda by TF, 10-0, 1:33
RR3 – Icho df. Higuchi by TF, 10-0, 0:56