TOKYO (June 27) – Norikatsu Saikawa defeated a world bronze medalist on his way to winning the Pytlansinski international wrestling tournament at 96kg, while serving notice that he may well be force at the London 2012 Olympic Games in August.
Saikawa defeated four opponents, including world No. 3 Rustam Totrov (RUS), in Raciborz, Poland to become the first Pytlasinski winner from Japan since Masatoshi Toyoda won at 55kg in 2003.
The Pytlasinski tourney, attracting the top wrestlers every year from Europe and beyond, has long been one of the final tune-ups on the international greco-roman schedule before the world championships and Olympic Games.
Saikawa, who finished in fifth place a year ago after a first-round loss to Totrov, edged the Russian 2-1 in the semifinals and then stopped up-and-coming Vladimir Vasilev (UKR) for the title.
“I wasn’t thinking too much about winning when I went, but (the victory) was the result of a long training camp abroad,” Saikawa said on his return to Japan after training with the Russian national team and wrestling at Pytlasinski.
“In Japan, we don’t have many wrestlers in the heavier weight categories to practice with. But in Russia, there are so many, you can’t practice with them all in one day.”
“It was a productive training camp and it helped boost my confidence.”
Japanese wrestlers have normally been more successful internationally in the lighter weight categories, even though Yasutoshi Moriyama and Tsutomu Kondo have won titles at 90kg and 100kg in Asia.
Saikawa is the first Japanese wrestler at 90kg and heavier to win a major international title in Europe.
96kg – SAIKAWA, Norikatsu (1st, 13 entries)
R1 – df. Radoslaw Grzybicki (POL), 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
R2 – df. Yilmaz Dogan (TUR), 2-0 (2-0, 4-1)
SF – df. Rustam Totrov (RUS), 2-1 (0-1, 1-0, 1-0)
F1 – df. Vladimir Vasilev (UKR), 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)