KRASNOYARSK, Russia (January 27-28) – World champion Kaori Icho won the 63kg crown at the Ivan Yarygin International wrestling tournament, pacing her teammates for four titles and a second place overall in the women’s events.
Icho defeated veteran Natalja Smirnova (RUS) in the 63kg final to win the title for a second year in a row at this Golden Grand Prix event.
Icho was joined at the top of the winner’s podium by a trio of Japanese high school stars — junior world champs Kanako Murata (55kg) and Sara Dosho (67kg) along with 2011 cadet world champ Risako Kawai (51kg).
Meanwhile, last year’s Klippan Ladies winner Yuki Irie advanced to the finals at 48kg, but could not get past 2004 Olympic gold medalist Irina Merleni (UKR). Merleni, who also took a bronze medal at the 2008 Games, has come out of retirement in a bid to make a third trip to the Olympic Games this summer.
Japan’s other two entries finished further down in the rankings as Hiroe Suzuki finished fifth at 72kg and world bronze medalist Takako Saito lost her opening bout at 59kg and did not get the chance to wrestle in the consolation bracket.