LONDON (10-12) – Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu won the gold medal at 66kg in men's freestyle at the London 2012 Olympic Games, giving the Japanese men their first Olympic triumph since winning a pair of gold medals in Seoul in 1988.
Yonemitsu picked apart 2010 world champion Sushil Kumar (IND) in the 66kg final 2-0 (1-0, 3-1) with his low-level leg attacks to become Japan's first gold medalist in the men's wrestling events since Takashi Kobayashi (FS, 48) and Mitsuru Sato (FS, 52) struck gold 24 years ago.
Along with Yonemitsu, Shinichi Yumoto defeated 2006 world champion Radoslav Velikov (BUL) to win a bronze medal at 55kg, but twin brother Kenichi Yumoto, a bronze medalist in Beijing, fell is his own bronze medal final at 60kg and had to settle for fifth place.
Shinichi Yumoto's bronze medal on the opening day of men's freestyle competition gave Japan a medal in the lightest weight category for a third consecutive Olympic Games. Chikara Tanabe won a bronze medal in Athens and Tomohiro Matsunaga went one better with a silver medal in Beijing.
Meanwhile, Takao Isokawa won his first-round bout at 96kg when his opponent from America Samoa defaulted but lost in the next round and had to settle for eighth place overall.
Sosuke Takatani lost his opening bout at 74kg to world bronze medalist Ashraf Aliev (AZE) and was eliminated when Aliev lost in the second round.
Results of bouts involving Japanese entries:
55kg – YUMOTO, Shinichi (Bronze medal, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – df. KIM Jin-Cheol (KOR), 2-1 (0-1=2:06, 4-2, 1-0=2:04)
Yumoto appeared to counter for a point from the clinch in the first period, but the point was awarded to Kim. Kim countered Yumoto's leg attack for two early in the second period, but Yumoto came back with a single-leg and three cross ankle turns.
After a scoreless third period, Yumoto won the draw for the clinch and converted for the win.
R3 – df. Mihran JABURYAN (ARM), 2-0 (4-1, 6-0=1:10)
Yumoto gets rolling with a force-out and scores again with exposure for two points in a scramble in the first period. Yumoto racks up a technical with a series of cross-ankle turns.
SF – lost to Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO), 1-2 (0-1, 4-0, 0-2)
Khinchegashvili counters for a go-behind point late in the first period, but Yumoto comes back with a takedown and three cross-ankle turns in the second.
In the third period, Khinchegashvili scores off a low-single early and fights off repeated takedown attempts by Yumoto for the win. The Japanese corner argues that Yumoto had scored a point, but the challenge is rejected.
F3 – df. Radoslav VELIKOV (BUL), 2-0 (1x-1=caution, 1x-1=last)
Yumoto attacks with a double-leg midway through the first period for a force-out point and a caution for fleeing the mat, Velikov scored late but Yumoto held the tie-breaker with the caution. In the second, Velikov and Yumoto trade double-leg takedowns, but Yumoto's in the last 15 seconds is the last-point tiebreaker for the period, the win and the bronze medal.
60kg – YUMOTO, Kenichi (5th, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – df. Yowlys BONNE RODRIGUEZ (CUB), 2-0 (2x-2=big, 2-0)
Yumoto scores with a side roll for two points to take the first period on big-point criteria and scores with a single-leg and a force-out in the second for the win against the Pan American champion.
R3 – lost to Toghrul ASGAROV (AZE), 0-2 (0-1, 2-2x=big)
Yumoto gives up a leg attack takedown in the first period, then gives up back exposure in the second period for two points and loses on criteria despite two late takedowns against the eventual gold medal winner.
c1 – df. Tim SCHLEICHER (GER), 2-0 (6-0=1:28, 3-2)
Yumoto rolls to a technical in the first period, then slows the pace in the second for a one-sided win against the former European junior runner-up.
F3 – lost to Coleman SCOTT (USA), 1-2 (1-0=2:09, 0-3, 1-3)
Yumoto wins the clinch in the first period, but is caught on his back after a takedown counter attempt in the second. A challenge from the Japanese corner is rejected and leaves the period count at 1-1.
In the third period, Yumoto takes the lead at 1:25 with a go-behind, but gives up two quick takedowns and drops his chance for a second Olympic Games bronze medal.
66kg – YONEMITSU, Tatsuhiro (Gold medal, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – df. Livan LOPEZ (CUB), 2-0 (1-0, 1x-1=last)
Yonemitsu scores a force-out off a leg attack midway through the first period. In the second, Yonemitsu is countered for a point, but comes back with a double-leg later in the period to win on last-point criteria over the eventual bronze medal winner.
R3 – df. Haislan VERANES (CAN), 2-1 (0-1=2:30, 1-0, 5-0)
The first period goes to the clinch, but Yonemitsu is unable to convert. In the second, however, Yonemitsu scores off a single-to-double combination.
In the third period, Yonemitsu with a go-behind point and closes with a takedown with exposure against the 2011 Pan American bronze medalist.
SF – df. Yabrail HASANOV (AZE), 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
Yonemitsu scores with a two-point single-leg takedown in the first period, and stops the two-time European champion with another single-leg takedown in the second.
F1 – df. Sushil KUMAR (IND), 2-0 (1-0, 3-1)
Yonemitsu takes the first period from the 2010 world champion with a go-behind, then scores three points off a double-leg and lift in the second and holds on for the gold medal.
74kg – TAKATANI, Sosuke (15th, 19 entries)
R1 – lost to Ashraf ALIYEV (AZE), 0-2 (0-1, 0-1)
Takatani gave up a point early in the first period and could not break through Aliyev's defenses with his own low-level attack. Takatani and Aliyev wrestled to a stalemate for the first 90 seconds in the second period, when Aliyev scored with a body lock takedown for the win.
Takatani was eliminated from medal contention when Aliyev lost in the next round.
96kg – ISOKAWA, Takao (8th, 19 entries)
R1 – df. Nathaniel TUAMOHELOA (ASA) by default, 0:00
R2 – lost to Magomed MUSAEV (KGZ), 0-2 (0-1, 1-2)
Isokawa drops the first period from the clinch, but rebounds with a quick force-out in the second. Musaev scored his own force-out midway through the period and makes it stand for the last-point win. Japanese coaches argue that Musaev should have been penalized for passivity, but the challenge is rejected.
Isokawa was eliminated from medal contention when Musaev lost to defending world champion Reza Yazdani (IRI) in the quarterfinals.