To Our Friends in Wrestling Around the world


By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee


  BUDAPEST (September 29) - Two Olympic gold medalists and an Olympic wannabe combined to sweep all three gold medals on offer on the fourth day of the wrestling world championships. Olympic champions Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho won their third straight world titles at 55 kg and 63 kg, respectively, while Ayako Shoda made her return to the Japanese team an emotional event with her senior world title since 1999.

(Photo), who wrestled in the shadow Icho and Seiko Yamamoto the past six years, could not hold back the tears after she defeated Hungary's Mariann Sastin 4-0, 6-0 in the 59-kg final at Papp Laszlo Arena in Budapest.
"This is the greatest feeling in the world," Shoda said after the awards ceremony. "There were a number of times that I thought about hanging it up, but I'm so happy now that I kept going."

  Shoda's victory, however, dampened Hungary's hopes that its first world medal in women's wrestling would be gold.
"I knew that a lot of people were hoping that Sastin would beat me, but I did what I had to do," said Shoda. "We were hoping for three gold medals today and I knew it was up to me to get the job done."
For Olympic champions Yoshida and Icho, it was business as usual.

  Yoshida ran her undefeated streak against foreign competition to 93, closing out the tournament with a convincing win over Chinese rival Su Lihui. "I know that people are watching me and studying me, so it's getting more difficult. But, I plan to keep training hard until the next Olympics in Beijing, so I can continue winning," Yoshida said.
Icho, meanwhile, had to face American nemesis Sara McMann in the first round instead of the final. The result, however, was the same.

  Icho edged McMann 3-2, 2-1 in a hard-fought battle and then cruised to the championship.Icho defeated McMann for the world championship title in 2003 and the Olympic gold medal last year in Athens. "I was able to relax a bit after my match with Sara. But I knew that the Chinese are getting better, so I had to regain my focus for the final," Icho said. Icho also explained that she really didn't feel any pressure during the competition since she wanted to win for her older sister Chiharu, who did not qualify for the national team this year.

Results of Japanese entries:

Women 55 kg - YOSHIDA, Saori (1st,24 entries)

Q - df. Neha Rathi (IND) by fall, 2P=0:22
Yoshida opens with three-point takedown on her way to a 6-0 first period. She pounces in the second with a double-leg to a turk and body press for the fall.

R1 - df. Ana Maria Paval (ROM) by fall, 1P=0:32
Yoshida moves quickly from the double-leg to a straight bear hug and press for the fall.

QF - df. Ludmila Cristea (MDA), 2-0 (4-0, 2-0)
Yoshida scores at will from the feet, but cannot get a handle in par terre.

SF - df. Tonya Verbeek (CAN), 2-0 (3-0, 1-0)
Yoshida wrestles smart against a dangerous opponent, looking for the low-risk points.

F1 - df. Su Lihui (CHN) 2-0 (3-0, 3-0)
Yoshida picks away with three one-point takedowns in the first period, then throws the 2004 World Cup champion over with a shoulder control and an inner thigh reap for three points in the second.
Women 59 kg - SHODA, Ayako (1st, 24 entries)

Q - df. Tomar Alka (IND), 2-0 (3-0, 2-1)
Shoda, wrestling in her first senior world championships since 1999, appears tentative against a defense-minded opponent.

R1 - df. Yuliya Ratkevich (BLR) by fall, 1P=1:54
Shoda catches the European bronze medalist with a fireman's carry and covers for the fall.

QF - df. Lene Aanes (NOR), 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
Shoda forges a win with a pair of takedowns against a former European champion and multi-world medalist.

SF - df. Ida-Theres Karlsson (SWE) by fall, 1P=0:36
Shoda shows the fireman's carry, but ducks to the opposite side to take the reigning European champion

F1 - df. Mariann Sastin (HUN), 2-0 (4-0, 6-0=1:21)
Shoda hits her trademark fireman's carry in the second period and adds a gut wrench to win her first world title since 1999.
Women 63 kg - ICHO, Kaori (1st, 24 entries)

R1 - df. Sara McMann (USA), 2-0 (3-2, 2-1)
Icho strikes with a double-leg for three points 20 seconds in the first period and holds on for the win. She surrenders the lead in the second period, but comes back with a short drag with five seconds remaining for the 2-0 victory.

QF - df. Helena Allandi (SWE), 2-0 (3-0, 3-0)
Icho picks away at the junior world bronze medalist with single-legs and go-behinds.

SF - df. Anna Polovneva (RUS), 2-0 (3-0, 3-0)
Icho uses single-legs in the first period and spins around behind in the second against the 2003 junior world champion.

F1 - df. Jing Ruixue (CHN), 2-0 (3-0, 1-0)
Icho grabs a single-leg and sweeps for three points in the first period and takes another single leg in the second for the win.