ULAN BATOR (March 3) – Japan rallied late for three falls to defeat the United States, 4-3, and claim the bronze medals at the World Cup of women's wrestling.
Japan got an early fall from Yu Miyahara at 51kg, but found itself trailing 1-3 after the 59kg bout and in danger of being sent home from the women's World Cup without a medal for the first time in the history of the event.
Yurika Ito, Chiaki Iijima and Hiroe Suzuki came up with falls in the final three bouts to preserve Japan's medal-winning streak. In 13 World Cup meetings, Japan has won six times, taken silver medals twice and won the bronze medals five times.
Junior world champion Ito came from five points down to pin senior world champ Elena Pirozhkova (USA) as time expired in the first period of their 63kg bout.
Iijima, 2010 Asia champion, kept the ball rolling at 67kg, racking up six points in the second period against Golden Grand Prix runner-up Veronica Carlson (USA) before pressing for the fall.
Suzuki, crowned national champ in December, was thrown early in the second period for three points, but came back with an outer-thigh trap to dump Brittany Roberts onto her back for the fall to complete the Japanese comeback.
"I really thought we were in trouble when we fell behind 1-2," Japanese head coach Hideo Sasayama said. "The American wrestlers were physically strong, but I felt that something was going to happen in the heavier weights."
"Being in a tough match like this, I'm sure it will be big boost to the confidence of the wrestlers," added Sasayama. "I'm very happy with the way they pulled together as a team to win these medals."
Meanwhile, China edged Mongolia, 4-3, in the championship final to reclaim the title they lost to Japan last year. It was China's sixth World Cup triumph after taking the bronze medals last year in Tokyo.
In the individual rankings, Suzuki finished in first at 72kg by criteria over Zhang Fengliu (CHN) despite a loss to Odonchimeg Badrakh (MGL) the Pool B dual with Mongolia.
Also for Japan, Yuki Irie (48kg), Yu Miyahara (51kg) and Yurika Ito (63kg) all finished in second place for Japan while Chiho Hamada (55kg) was third.
Third-place final – Japan df. United States, 4-3
48kg – Yuki Irie lost to Alyssa Lampe (USA), 0-2 (1-1x=last, 0-2)
51kg – Yu Miyahara df. Jessica Medina (USA) by fall, 2P=0:55 (0-1, F4-0)
55kg – Chiho Hamada lost to Helen Maroulis (USA), 2-1 (1-0, 0-1=2:21, 0-2)
59kg – Kiwa Sakae lost to Allison Ragan, 0-2 (0-3, 1-2)
63kg – Yurika Ito df. Elena Pirozhkova (USA) by fall, 1P=1:59 (F8-5)
67kg – Chiaki Iijima df. Veronica Carlson (USA) by fall, 2P=1:51 (3-0=2:03, F6-0)
72kg – Hiroe Suzuki df. Brittany Roberts (USA) by fall, 2P=0:59 (1-0, F3-3)
Final dual meet scores:
F1 – China df. Mongolia, 4-3
F3 – Japan df. United States, 4-3
F5 – India df. Belarus, 5-2
F7 – Canada df. Kazakhstan, 6-1
Individual weight category winners and places won by Japanese entries:
48kg – Sun Yanan (CHN), Yuki Irie (2nd)
51kg – Jessica MacDonald (CAN), Yu Miyahara (2nd)
55kg – Helen Maroulis (USA), Chiho Hamada (3rd)
59kg – Michelle Fazzari (CAN), Kiwa Sakae (7th)
63kg – Battsetseg Soronzonbold (MGL), Yurika Ito (2nd, tie)
67kg – Xu Haiyan (CHN), Chiaki Iijima (5th)
72kg – Hiroe Suzuki (JPN, 1st)