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日本レスリング協会公式サイト
2024.01.01

Japan Wrestling Federation News ― December 2023 (Emperor’s Cup/Shigakkan Univ.)

 

The Emperor’s Cup All-Japan Championships were held Dec. 21-24, returning to Tokyo’s Yoyogi No. 2 Gym for the first time since 2016. The tournament also served as a qualifier, depending on the weight class, for both the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament and Asian Championships to be held in consecutive weeks in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in April.

As importantly, the tournament determined the next step in the process for filling the open spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics in the women’s 68kg division, which was secured by Ami ISHII when she placed fifth at the World Championships in September in Belgrade, Serbia.

The field was narrowed down to two when world 65kg champion Nonoka OZAKI defeated Ishii in the first round, then went on to defeat world 72kg bronze medalist Miwa MORIKAWA in the final. 

Her performance earned Ozaki the Emperor’s Cup as the outstanding wrestler of the tournament and, in accordance with Japan federation rules, a place in the playoff against Ishii to be contested on Jan. 27 at the National Training Center.

Nonoka OZAKI holds up the Emperor’s Cup as the outstanding wrestler of the tournament.

In other major news, Tokyo Olympic champion Takuto OTOGURO saw his chances of a gold-medal repeat in Paris end when he was defeated in the semifinals at freestyle 65kg by collegiate champion Kotaro KIYOOKA. Kiyooka then won the title, putting him in the Asian qualifier in an attempt to earn a ticket to Paris.

Ozaki prevails to make 68kg Olympic playoff

The only women’s weight class in which Japan’s entry in the Paris Olympics has not yet been decided is 68kg. In the five other divisions, the wrestler won a medal at the World Championships to meet the Japan federation criteria that allowed them to automatically fill the berth themselves.

Ishii could have captured the berth outright at the Emperor’s Cup by winning the title. Now, with the ticket to Paris on the line, she will again be facing Ozaki, who won the title with a comprehensive 7-0 victory over Morikawa in the final.

In addition to Ozaki and Morikawa, the competition also drew such top wrestlers as Tokyo Olympic 62kg gold medalist Yukako KAWAI, 2021 world 72kg champion Masako FURUICHI and 2021 world 68kg silver medalist Rin MIYAJI.

Because neither Ozaki nor Ishii placed in the top two at the Meiji Cup All-Japan Invitational Championships in June, both were unseeded. As fate would have it, they were drawn to face each other in the first round. Ozaki had beaten Ishii in three previous meetings, most recently at the 2020 Emperor’s Cup. This year’s clash would be their first since both emerge as top wrestlers on the world senior stage.

Ozaki, displaying a confidence and determination that had recently been missing, scored three takedowns before giving up a late stepout in posting a 6-2 victory.

Nonoka OZAKI scores a takedown against Ami ISHII during their first-round match at women’s 68kg.

Ozaki then cruised to a 10-0 victory over Mei SHINDO and an 8-1 win over Miyu YOSHIKAWA to advance to the next day’s final. Yoshikawa had taken out Kawai, ending her hopes of an Olympic repeat, in a 4-4 thriller on last-point criteria. In the opposite bracket, Morikawa edged Miyaji 3-2 before ousting Furuichi 10-0 to make the final.

Ozaki, who normally wrestles at 62kg but moved up to the next Olympic weight after losing out to Sakura MOTOKI, showed little emotion after her win over Morikawa. With the playoff still ahead, she was in no mood for premature celebrations.

“I fought with the sole thought of winning this tournament and then winning the playoff that would get me to Paris,” Ozaki said. “In the playoff, I will put every effort with the thinking that I will definitely get the Olympic berth. Ishii knows it is the last chance, I also want to go to Paris. It will be clash of wills and the winner will be who wants it more.”

Ishii acknowledged that she was defeated by a better wrestler on the day. “I did what I had to do [to prepare], and I gave everything I had to give in the match,” Ishii said. “I experienced hardship, and I think this was also a tournament where the parts in which I’ve been pampered stood out. [The playoff] is only about beating the opponent. More than clinching a place at the Olympics, I will go to beat the opponent in front of me.”

Otoguro’s dream of Olympic repeat ends

In freestyle, Otoguro saw the end of his dream of a second straight Olympic gold medal. A loss at the World Championships, in which a recent foot injury flared up again, meant he left Belgrade without an Olympic berth for Japan at 65kg.

The winner of the tournament would earn the right to go to Bishkek for the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament and, if failing there, the last-chance World qualifier. Otoguro looked on pace to be on the plane to Kyrgyzstan when he won his first two matches with little trouble either from his foot or his opponents.

But it all came tumbling down in the semifinals, when Otoguro was dealt a 6-6 defeat on last-point criteria by collegian Kiyooka. Otoguro appeared to have scored a desperate 2-point counter lift in the final seconds, but the call was overruled on challenge, with the replay showing Kiyooka’s shoulders did not break the 90-degree plane.

In the frantic final seconds of their freestyle 65kg semifinal, Takuto OTOGURO (red) came up desperately short of turning Kotaro KIYOOKA.

Kiyooka began his path to glory with an 11-0 victory over Asian Games 57kg champion Toshihiro HASEGAWA in the first round. He then beat Yuto MIWA, a member of this year’s world team at 79kg who had dropped down three weight classes, and knocked off Asian Games 65kg bronze medalist Kaiki YAMAGUCHI in the quarterfinals.

The day after beating Otoguro, Kiyooka claimed his first Emperor’s Cup title with an 11-0 win in the final over fellow collegian Masanosuke ONO, the national collegiate and National Games champion at 61kg. Kiyooka finished off the win in 2:02 with a series of lace-lock rolls.

Kiyooka’s victory came two days after younger sister Moe captured the women’s 55kg gold, making them the first brother-sister combo to win national titles at the same tournament in the history of the tournament. There have been a number of brothers who have won titles together as well as sisters.

At freestyle 86kg, world team member and defending champion Hayato ISHIGURO earned a chance to make his first Olympics while denying Sosuke TAKATANI’s bid to go to the fourth of his career with a 3-2 victory in the final.

The loss also ended Takatani’s streak of consecutive national titles at 12, won over four weight classes, including the last three at 92kg.

Hayato ISHIGURO followed his Meiji Cup win over Sosuke TAKATANI in June by beating him in the freestyle 86kg final to earn a ticket to the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament.

Rising teen star Arash YOSHIDA, the Asian champion at 92kg who finished fifth at the World Championships, moved up to 97kg and won his first national title and a trip to the Asian Olympic qualifier with a 10-0 victory in the final over Hibiki ITO.

Sogabe wins latest 67kg clash with Endo

The featured weight class in Greco-Roman evolved into the latest clash between training partners Sotaro SOGABE and Katsuaki ENDO at 67kg. Just as he did in the world team playoff in July, Sogabe came out on top, scoring a late pair of rolls for an 8-5 comeback victory.

Sogabe was a world U23 bronze medalist last year and the Asian silver medalist this year, while Endo won the gold at this year’s Asian Games. Endo still has a 5-4 lead in head-to-head meetings, but Sogabe has now won three of the last four.

Kyotaro SOGABE notched his third win in their past four matches over rival and training partner Katsuaki ENDO at Greco 67kg.

Here is the list of champions:


Freestyle
57kg (17 entries): Kento YUMIYA (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
61kg (21 entries): Kaisei TANABE (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
65kg (27 entries): Kotaro KIYOOKA (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
70kg (21 entries): Yoshinosuke AOYAGI (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.)
74kg (13 entries): Kota TAKAHASHI (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
79kg (20 entries): Ryunosuke KAMIYA (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
86kg (14 entries): Hayato ISHIGURO (Self-Defense Forces PTS)
92kg (21 entries): Satoshi MIURA (Takushoku Univ.)
97kg (14 entries): Arash YOSHIDA (Nihon Univ.)
125kg (17 entries): Taiki YAMAMOTO (Self-Defense Forces PTS)

Greco-Roman
55kg (20 entries): Kagetora OKAMOTO (Senshu Univ.)
60kg (16 entries): Kaito INABA (NSSU Grad. School)
63kg (20 entries): Ayata SUZUKI (Restar Holdings)
67kg (20 entries): Kyotaro SOGABE (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
72kg (19 entries): Shingo HARADA (So-net)
77kg (12 entries): Isami HORIKITA (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
82kg (13 entries): Hayato TAMAOKA (Waseda Univ.)
87kg (16 entries): So SAKABE (Self-Defense Forces PTS)
97kg (13 entries): Yuri NAKAZATO (Saga Pref. Sports Assoc.)
130kg (11 entries): Sota OKAMURA (Self-Defense Forces PTS)

Women
50kg (18 entries): Remina YOSHIMOTO (KeePer Technical Laboratory)
53kg (9 entries): Rino KATAOKA (Waseda Univ.)
55kg (12 entries): Moe KIYOOKA (Ikuei Univ.)
57kg (13 entries): Sae NANJO (Toshin Juken)
59kg (15 entries): Risako KINJO (Suntory Beverage Solution)
62kg (11 entries): Yuzuka INAGAKI (Shigakkan Univ.)
65kg (11 entries): Mahiro YOSHITAKE (Nippon Sports Science Univ.)
68kg (11 entries): Nonoka OZAKI (Keio Univ.)
72kg (9 entries): Ayano MORO (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.)
76kg (4 entries): Mizuki NAGASHIMA (Daito Bunka Univ.)


German, Norwegian teams practice at Shigakkan

For two weeks starting on Nov. 28, members of the German and Norwegian women’s teams visited Japan to train at Shigakkan University, which has a number of Asian and national champions in its ranks.

The German team that trained at Shigakkan University poses for a group photo.

The German team had one medalist at this year’s World Championships, but it came in the non-Olympic weight of 55kg. The country qualified in only one weight class for the Paris Olympics with Luisa NIEMESCH (GER) earning a spot at 62kg, and will be looking to gain the remaining five places at the European Olympic and World qualifying tournaments in the spring.

Aline FOCKEN won Germany’s first-ever Olympic gold medal for women at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics [at 76kg] and the fire is still burning leading up to Paris,” German national team head coach Loes PATRICK said. “We’ve only qualified in one weight class so far, but the current team is gradually improving.”

It marks the fourth time since Patrick became coach that he has brought his team to Shigakkan and the second time this year.

“Japan has very good coaches and train very well,” he said. “I want what we learn here to pay off in the spring.” The team will get to put what they practiced into use at the Zagreb Open, the season-opening tournament in the UWW Ranking Series.

For Norway, Grace BULLEN (NOR) gained a quota spot at 62kg, but she resides in France and trains under her own personal coach from Kazakhstan. No wrestlers based in Norway qualified for Paris. By coming to Japan, Norway’s Japanese coach Yurie YONEOKA is hoping to prepare world 59kg bronze medalist Othelie HOEIE (NOR) for the European qualifier at 57kg.

Othelie HOEIE (NOR), left, who won a world bronze medal at women’s 59kg, will try to make the Paris Olympics at 57kg.

Shigakkan is the school that produced such legends as Saori YOSHIDA and Kaori ICHO. Head coach Kazuhito SAKAE has long maintained a posture that “all who want to come are welcome.” With restrictions on entry into the country lifted in 2023, the school in central Japan also hosted teams from Ukraine, South Korea, Mongolia, Guam and Australia. It has also received requests from the United States, Canada and India, which Sakae said he hopes can be accommodated in 2024.

Asked if having other countries come will give away Japan trade secrets, Sakae replied with a laugh, “That never crossed my mind.” His expression is full of confidence despite being targeted from all over the world. By training with foreign wrestlers, there is a sense of tension that isn’t there in practices with other Japanese. “Those practices are important,” he said, explaining that it helps prevent the wrestlers from falling into a rut.

Shigakkan is currently in a down phase, with no current or past students making it onto the Paris Olympics squad. Aiming for a revival leading up to the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, Sakae said, “We will continue to actively pursue international exchanges.”

German wrestlers and coaches show their adeptness with chopsticks at a meal during their two-week stay at Shigakkan University.

 







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