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By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee:wmay52@hotmail.com


TOKYO (April 30) – Kyoko Hamaguchi punched her ticket for a 15th trip to the world championships as world team and Olympic veterans dominated the women's events on the final day of the Meiji Cup national invitational wrestling championships. Hamaguchi, who made two trips to the Olympics and won bronze medals at 72kg, will be joined by two-time gold medalists Saori Yoshida (55kg) and Kaori Icho (63kg), making their ninth and seventh appearances, respectively, at the world championships.

Hitomi Sakamoto will also join the women's squad at 48kg for her eighth trip to the world championships and a chance to qualify for her first Olympic Games. The top six finishers at each of the 18 Olympic weight categories in Istanbul will qualify their countries in the first round of qualification for the 2012 London Games.

In greco-roman, the 74kg and 84kg categories both came down to special world team wrestle-offs between the All-Japan champion and the invitational winner to decide who will make the trip to Istanbul in September.

At 74kg, Takehiro Kanakubo avenged a loss to Kazuo Tamura in last December's All-Japan final to earn a second trip to the worlds, while national champ Taichi Oka rebounded from a loss to Masayuki Amano in the first round of the invitational to win the wrestle-off at 84kg.

In men's freestyle, 2009 world bronze medal winner Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu (66kg) and Shinya Matsumoto (84kg) each won their third invitational titles and will be taking their third shot at the world championships.

Meanwhile, Ryuta Takahashi defeated national champ Kazuyuki Nagashima in the invitational semifinals and again in the world team wrestle-off and, at the age of 29, earned his first trip to the world championships.

Men's freestyle

66kg (11 entries)
F1 – Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu df. Takafumi Kojima, 2-0 (2-0, 3-1)
SF – Yonemitsu df. Kazuhiko Ikematsu, 2-0 (3-0, 2-0)
SF – Kojima df. Kohei Fujimoto, 2-0 (3-1, 2-0)
(Yonemitsu wins 3rd straight invitational title, 3rd world team berth)

74kg (10 entries)
F1 – Ryuta Takahashi df. Takayuki Suzuki by fall, 2P=1:53 (2-0, F4-1)
SF – Takahashi df. Kazuyuki Nagashima, 2-0 (3-0=2:10, 1x-1=last)
SF – Suzuki df. Sosuke Takatani by injury default, 1P=2:08 (1-0)
(Takahashi wins 1st invitational title)

World team wrestle-off
Takahashi df. Nagashima by fall, 2P=1:12 (2-1, F 5-0)
(Takahashi wins 1st world team berth)

84kg (11entries)
F1 – Shinya Matsumoto df. Naoki Monma by fall, 1P=0:13 (F4-0)
SF – Matsumoto df. Takeshi Yamaguchi, 2-1 (0-1, 1x-1=caution, 4-0=2:04)
SF – Monma df. Tetsuro Asami, 2-1 (3-1, 1-1x=last, 2-0)
(Matsumoto wins 3rd invitational title, 1st since 2009; 3rd world team berth)


74kg (12 entries)
F1 – Takehiro Kanakubo df. Naoto Kasai, 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
SF – Kasai df. Tsukasa Tsurumaki, 2-1 (0-1, 1-0, 3-0)
SF – Kanakubo df. Kosuke Sumi, 2-0 (2-0, 2-0)
(Kanakubo wins 3rd straight invitational title)

World team wrestle-off
Kanakubo df. Kazuo Tamura, 2-0 (1-0, 4-1)
(Kanakubo wins 2nd straight world team berth)

84kg (8 entries)
F1 – Masayuki Amano df. Norikatsu Saikawa by fall, 1P=1:55 (F4-0)
SF – Amano df. Ryo Ito by fall, 1P=1:47 (F2-0)
SF – Saikawa df. Toru Yokosawa, 2-0 (1-0, 3-2)
(Amano wins 1st invitational title)

World team wrestle-off
Taichi Oka df. Amano, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
(Oka wins 1st world team berth)

Women's freestyle
48kg (14 entries)
F1 – Hitomi Sakamoto df. Fuyuko Mimura, 2-0 (5-1, 8-1=1:20)
SF – Sakamoto df. Yuki Irie by fall, 2P=0:35 (2x-2=last, F3-0)
SF – Mimura df. Yuri Kai, 2-1 (0-3=2:03, 1-0=2:06, 1x-1=last)
(Sakamoto wins 2nd straight invitational title, 8th overall world team berth)

55kg (12 entries)
F1 – Saori Yoshida df. Kanako Murata, 2-0 (5-1, 5-0)
SF – Yoshida df. Kei Yamana by fall, 2P=0:27 (5-0, F3-0)
SF – Murata df. Chikako Matsukawa, 2-0 (3-0, 3x-3=big)
(Yoshida wins 2nd straight invitational title, 9th overall world team berth)

63kg (10 entries)
F1 – Kaori Icho df. Rio Watari, 2-0 (6-0=1:41, 4-0)
SF – Icho df. Kayoko Kudo byTF, 2-0 (6-0=1:29, 6-0=1:56)
SF – Watari df. Seiko Nagashima, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0=2:06)
(Icho wins 2nd straight invitational crown, 7th overall world team berth)

72kg (6 entries)
F1 – Kyoko Hamaguchi df. Hiroe Suzuki, 2-0 (1-0=2:04, 3-0=2:03)
SF – Hamaguchi df. Rino Abe, 2-0 (7-3, 5-0)
SF – Suzuki df. Mami Shinkai, 2-1 (2-3, 1-0, 4-0)
(Hamaguchi wins 2nd straight invitational title, 15th overall world team berth)

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