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日本レスリング協会公式サイト
2024.03.01

Japan Wrestling Federation News ― February 2024 (Ex-Pats in Oceania/Klippan Lady/Ukraine Official Visit)

 

2 ex-pats win titles at Oceania Championships

Gaku AKAZAWA and Nachi MASUDA, who were born and bred in Japan but switched nationalities in recent years, both won titles at the Oceania Championships in their first appearances for their new nations.

Akazawa won the Greco-Roman gold at 67kg for Samoa and Masuda triumphed at women’s 62kg for Australia at the continental tournament held Feb. 6-7 in Guam.

Akazawa was also entered in the freestyle 65kg competition, but defaulted during his first-round match due to an injury suffered during his run to the Greco gold. He said he did it in consideration of the Africa-Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament coming up.

Oceania champions Gaku AKAZAWA, left, and Nachi MASUDA, center, pose with Maulao Willie ALOFIPO (SAM), the Greco 97kg champion who competed at the All-Japan Non-Student Championships in October 2022. (photo courtesy of Gaku AKAZAWA)

Both wrestlers competed for and graduated from Japanese universities before heading abroad. Masuda, who attained Australian citizenship in September 2022, attended International Pacific University, while Akazawa, who became a Samoan citizen in December last year, is a product of Nihon University.

The two are hoping to earn spots at the Paris Olympics at the Africa-Oceania qualifier scheduled for March 22-24 in Alexandria, Egypt. Should they be successful, they would become the first-ever native Japanese to compete for another country in wrestling at the Olympics.

High schoolers win 4 golds in senior division at Klippan Lady

A select team of five top high schoolers won four golds and a bronze in the senior division of the Klippan Lady Open, held Feb. 17-18 in Sweden.

Winning titles were Miruko SAKANE (50kg), Sowaka UCHIDA (57kg), Konami ONO (62kg) and Momoko KITADE (68kg). Mihoko TAKEUCHI won a bronze at 53kg.

The Japan contingent took home four golds and one bronze from the Klippan Lady Open.

Sakane needed five wins to triumph at 50kg, the weight class with a tournament-high 20 entries, and capture her first international title. She was a bronze medalist at the World U20 Championships.

Uchida, the reigning world U17 champion, won all three of her matches at 57kg by fall. Including her victory at the World U17 in Istanbul last July, she has now won five consecutive international tournaments.

Ono plowed through the field at 62kg with four victories by 10-0 technical superiority for her first international title in three tournaments abroad. Kitade also made the top of an international podium for the first time after not conceding a point in four wins at 68kg, including two by technical superiority.

Takeuchi went into the tournament as a defending champion, but lost a close 6-4 decision in the semifinals to Magdalena GLODEK (POL), the 2022 world U23 silver medalist at 59kg, But Takeuchi bounced back with a quick victory in the bronze-medal match.

Japan team coach Ayako SHODA, a former four-time world champion from 1999 to 2008, praised the effort of the young contigent who faced tough competition, while noting that many top wrestlers who would have entered had skipped the tournament because it clashed with the European Championships.

“[The opponents] who want to be the top wrestlers [in their country] fought frantically to get good results,” Shoda said.

High-ranking Ukrainian official visits JWF office

Ukrainian politician Vitaly KOVAL, a former wrestler who is currently vice-president of the Ukrainian Wrestling Association, paid a visit to the offices of the Japan Wrestling Federation and Japan Olympic Committee on Feb. 20 during a trip to Japan with an official delgation of lawmakers.

Ukrainian Wrestling Association Vice-President Vitaly KOVAL, center, meets with staff of the Japan Olympic Committee, including Japan Wrestling Federation Secretary General Masahito TAKAHASHI, left.

In between his official duties, Koval and his secretary Oxana OSMACHKO visited the JWF office and met with Senior Managing Director Nobuo FUJISAWA in lieu of President Hideaki TOMIYAMA, who was not present on the day. The two discussed future exchanges between the two countries.

Before that, Koval, who is also a member of the Ukrainian Olympic Committee, called on the JOC and met with the staff. They talked about visits to Japan last year by Ukraine’s national judo, gymnastics and fencing teams, and discussed the importance of close cooperation between the two countries for future exchanges.

In June last year, the Ukrainian women’s wrestling team was welcomed for a stay at Shigakkan University, a traditional collegiate powerhouse. Following that experience, Ukraine’s women placed fourth in the team standings at the World U20 Championships, and fifth at the senior World Championships.

At the European Championships this month in Istanbul, the Ukrainian women won the team title, edging out host Turkey. Koval expressed his gratitude to Japan for its kindness.

The Ukrainian contingent took a roundabout route to get to Japan as the war with Russia rages on. After taking a train to Poland, they flew on the presidential jet to Japan via Dubai and Bangladesh.

Although Koval had only 40 hours to spend in Japan, as a wrestler, he said he makes it a policy to find time to visit the wrestling federation and Olympic committee of a country he is visiting. Koval and Fujisawa promised to meet again at the Paris Olympics.







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