Takatani stretches streak of national titles; Kanazawa wins historic GR crown

By Ken Marantz

TOKYO (December 22) -- As veteran Sohsuke TAKATANI balances a number of off-the-mat pursuits, he still managed to extend his streak of national titles to the second-longest ever, while a Tokyo high schooler nearly half his age also etched his name in the history books.

Takatani held on for a 12-8 victory in the freestyle 92kg final over teen collegian Arashi YOSHIDA to notch his 12th straight title on the opening day of the Emperor's Cup All-Japan Championships on Thursday in Tokyo.

A short time earlier, Kohaku KANAZAWA became the first-ever high schooler to win a national crown in Greco-Roman when he scraped out an 8-7 victory over world U20 bronze medalist Taiga ONISHI at 55kg in the tournament serving as the first of two domestic qualifiers for next year's World Championships in Belgrade.

And in the first of what will be a succession of battles between current Olympic and/or world champions and medalists over the four-day event at Tokyo's Komazawa Gym, world silver medalist Ami ISHII and world 65kg champion Miwa MORIKAWA advanced to a highly anticipated final in the women's 68kg division.

The clashes of the titans on tap are all due to the tournament's link with the 2024 Paris Olympics. As the Japan federation has decreed that a wrestler who wins a medal in Belgrade in an Olympic weight will automatically fill the spot in Paris that they have secured, that has added urgency to qualify for Belgrade, particularly among the women, where a world medal is accessible. It has also funneled the top wrestlers into the six Olympic divisions in each style.

All wrestlers who lose here will get another shot in June at the second qualifier, the Meiji Cup All-Japan Invitational Championships. Winners of both tournaments will automatically earn a ticket to Belgrade, with a playoff determining the spot if the winners are different.

For this year's Emperor's Cup, the federation tweaked the format by running the Olympic weight classes over two days, the same as is done at the Olympics and the worlds. Non-Olympic weights are being started and ended on the same day.

Sohsuke TAKATANI (JPN)Sohsuke TAKATANI rolls Arashi YOSHIDA early in the freestyle 92kg final. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki / Japan Wrestling Federation)

Takatani, the 2014 world silver medalist at 74kg who plans to move down to 86kg at the Meiji Cup in a bid to make his fourth Olympics, advanced to the 92kg final with a pair of technical falls, but met some unexpected resistance there from national collegiate champion Yoshida of Nihon University.

The 33-year-old Takatani stormed to an 8-0 lead with a driving takedown and three rolls off a lace lock. But Yoshida, whose Iranian father runs the kids' wrestling club in nearby Chiba Prefecture where he got his start, came back with a takedown to cut it to 8-2 at the break.

In the second period, Yoshida scored three more takedowns to offset a takedown and two stepouts by Takatani, but it wasn't enough to dethrone the champion, whose run of titles has come over four different weights. The 12 crowns overall also put him in fifth place on Japan's all-time list of total titles, one behind both Kaori ICHO and Saori YOSHIDA.

"I've been working hard every year and I've kept it going well for 12 years," Takatani said. "Many young wrestlers have put up a challenge and it's my mission to keep from losing."

As he keeps his career going, the outgoing Takatani also stays busy as the head coach at his alma mater, Takushoku University, by preparing for a doctoral course at Tsukuba University, and as a new father after his wife gave birth to their first child, a son, in September.

"I thought about entering at 86kg here, but I thought that if I put out energy too early, I would peter out in the second half," he said. "So I decided I will build up a little more [mentally and physically] and then go for it. If I get a chance, I might give 97kg a try. But I think that would irritate some people."

Kohaku KANAZAWA (JPN)High schooler Kohaku KANAZAWA and Taiga ONISHI grapple for position in the Greco 55kg final. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

In the Greco 55kg final, Kanazawa trailed 2-4 going into the second period against Waseda University's Onishi, but went ahead 5-4 with a gut wrench from par terre. Onishi came back to take the lead with a takedown to the back, but it was only temporary, as Kanazawa quickly reversed to go ahead 6-6 on criteria. He then added a takedown, and allowed only a late stepout for the win.

"I didn't feel any pressure and just went all out," said Kanazawa, who finished fifth at this year's world U17 in his international debut. "I'm surprised."

Kanazawa is a second-year student at Jiyugaoka Gakuen High School, the alma mater of 2021 champion Yu SHIOTANI, the world bronze medalist who has moved up to the Olympic weight of 60kg and a possible clash with Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Kenichiro FUMITA.

Moe KIYOOKA (JPN)Moe KIYOOKA, left, and Rino KATAOKA, teammates at the recent World Cup, square off during the women's 55kg final. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

Meanwhile, Moe KIYOOKA, who pulled off an age-group double this year with titles at both the world U20 and world U23, defeated two of her World Cup teammates en route to her first senior national title at women's 55kg.

Kiyooka scored a first-period takedown and made that hold up for a 2-0 victory over Rino KATAOKA, who wrestled at 53kg on the young Japanese team that lost two close matches at the World Cup two weeks ago in the U.S. The top Japanese wrestlers skipped the World Cup because of its proximity to the Emperor's Cup.

In her opening match in the quarterfinals, Kiyooka chalked up an 11-0 technical fall over Ruka NATAMI, the Japan team's 57kg entry in Coralville.

"We didn't talk about this All-Japan tournament in particular," said Kiyooka, a freshman at Ikuei University. "But for me, while we were warming up, I kind of got an idea of how I could do and I felt that if there was something lacking, I had a week until the All-Japan and could make adjustments."

It was at the World Cup that Kiyooka was dealt her first career loss by a non-Japanese wrestler when she fell 3-0 to the world bronze medalist at 57kg Alina HRUSHNYA (UKR).

"The match I lost at the World Cup was one that I have to reflect on because it showed how weak-hearted I can be," Kiyooka said. "The opponent faced [Ikuei teammate] Tsugumi SAKURAI at the World Championships and I was there for that match, so I have an image of her as being strong. That made me feel weak. But because of that, I made sure to brace myself for this All-Japan."

Kiyooka said her goal remains a gold medal in Paris and at this point, she plans to drop to 53kg for the Meiji Cup, which would mean getting on a collision course with Olympic champion Mayu SHIDOCHI and 2021 world champion Akari FUJINAMI. Kiyooka faced Shidochi in this year's Meiji Cup final at 55kg and lost by technical fall.

Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN)Miwa MORIKAWA clamps down on Miyu IMAI in holding on for a 3-0 victory in the women's 68kg semifinals. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

Morikawa's striking means of motivation

When the dust settled at women's 68kg, Morikawa and Ishii were the last left standing in a field that included four current or past world gold or silver medalists, not to mention a pair of former world junior champions.

Morikawa advanced to Friday's final with a 3-0 victory over 2018 world junior champion Miyu IMAI in a rematch of last June's Meiji Cup final, also won by Morikawa. Imai, who went to the World Cup and split her two matches at 65kg, had set up the clash by edging 2021 world 72kg champion Masako FURUICHI, 2-1.

"Unlike recent competitions, I didn't have to cut any weight, so my condition was a little flat going into the tournament," Morikawa said. "I wondered if I would be alright."

Morikawa said that she moved up to 68kg -- her natural weight -- because her previous experience of dropping to 62kg left her too drained and she missed out on the Tokyo Olympics.

"Up to now, I've built up experience in the non-Olympic weight of 65kg, but I still have regrets to this day of not making it to the Tokyo Olympics," Morikawa said. "I thought that I don't want to have that feeling ever again.

"It's not like I want to win this tournament so much that I'll die for it, but I want to take the mat feeling that will definitely win it. I hope I can win it and get off to a good start [heading to the Olympics]."

Before each match, Morikawa showed what was providing her with extra motivation. As she waited at matside for the previous match to end, she wore a Japan national soccer team T-shirt with the No. 8 of striker Ritsu DOAN.

Japan's run into the knockout round of the recent World Cup in Qatar, where the Samurai Blue stunned powerhouses Germany and Spain in the group stage, thrilled and inspired the nation, none more so than Morikawa and her soccer-loving family.

"I watched more than half of the World Cup matches," Morikawa said. "I saw the final this week. On the Japan team, I really like Doan. I think there are parts of me that are similar to Doan's boldness. So when I wear his t-shirt or use his towel, it raises my motivation and gets me ready for what's ahead."

Ishii advanced to the final with a 12-2 technical fall over 2019 world U20 champion Naruha MATSUYUKI, but that came after surviving a scare against 2021 world silver medalist Rin MIYAJI in which she overcame a four-point deficit to post a 6-4 victory.

The 2022 world silver medalist looked flat in giving up a pair of first-period takedowns to Miyaji. But she used her counterattack to get back into the match and went ahead 4-4 on criteria with a takedown with 25 seconds left.

Ishii scored a last-second takedown when Miyaji stopped fighting after the back of her head collided with Ishii's front teeth. That opened up a cut that caused Miyaji to be taken to the hospital.

It was another physically painful ending for Miyaji. At the 2021 World Championships, her shocking victory by fall over Olympic champion Tamyra MENSAH STOCK (USA) in the semifinals was tempered by a serious knee injury she suffered in a loss in the final to Meerim ZHUMANAZAROVA (KGZ).

Ayano MORO (JPN)Teenager Ayano MORO prepares for battle ahead of her semifinal match with Nanaha TAKASU at women's 76kg. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

One anticipated match-up that didn't come off Thursday was at women's 76kg, where world bronze medalist Yuka KAGAMI pulled out of the competition with a torn right pectoralis major muscle after winning the opening match of her round-robin group.

That kept Kagami from a potential first meeting with 17-year-old world U20 champion Ayano MORO, who won all three of her matches by technical fall to make Saturday's final against Nodoka YAMAMOTO.

Moro, who is making her first appearance in a senior-level tournament, has not lost since being beaten by Ishii in the final of the national junior high school invitational in 2017. That run includes a 4-2 victory in the final of the Junior Queen's Cup in April over Yamamoto, who notched two impressive victories at the World Cup.

"This was my first Emperor's Cup, but I'm aiming to make the 2024 Paris Olympics, so it doesn't matter if it's the first," Moro said. "It's only natural to think of winning. That's what I practiced for. Since I started high school, I think this is the best I've ever wrestled."

Kagami said she suffered the injury 10 days ago in practice, and after being unable to launch any form of attack in her 2-1 victory over Yamamoto -- all points were scored on the activity clock -- she decided to withdraw.

Had there been one more entry in the seven-women field, she said she might have stuck it out, as it would have meant a straight knockout format and a maximum of three matches. But she said the prospect of four more matches would be too much to bear.

"During the match, I could hear it popping," Kagami said. "At the time, I could withstand the pain, but after the match, I couldn't move and had no power.

"Two and a half years ago I injured my ankle, and because it was my leg, I couldn't move. This time, I could use my left arm, so I tried to think of a way I could win. Still, this doesn't mean the Paris Olympics is completely gone. I can still reach [No. 1] at the next World Championships, so at least my goal has become clearer."

Day 1 Results


74kg (14 entries)
Semifinal - Daichi TAKATANI df. Jintaro MOTOYAMA by TF, 10-0, 3:oo
Semifinal - Kirin KINOSHITA df. Kota TAKAHASHI, 4-4

92kg (14 entries)
Gold - Sohsuke TAKATANI df. Arashi YOSHIDA, 12-8

Bronze - Takeshi YAMAGUCHI df. Akinobu TAKEUCHI by Fall, :20 (2-0)
Bronze - Ryoichi YAMANAKA df. Hikaru ABE by Fall, 4:51 (4-2)

Semifinal - Sohsuke TAKATANI df. Takeshi YAMAGUCHI by TF, 11-0, 3:21
Semifinal - Arashi YOSHIDA df. Hikaru ABE by TF, 11-0, 3:44

97kg (10 entries)
Semifinal - Takashi ISHIGURO df. Toyoki HAMADA by TF, 11-0, 3:45
Semifinal - Hibiki ITO df. Hiroto NINOMIYA, 4-2

125kg (10 entries)
Semifinal - Daiki YAMAMOTO df. Takuya HIGUCHI by Def.
Semifinal - Ryusei FUJITA df. Yuji FUKUI, 7-3


55kg (15 entries)
Gold - Kohaku KANAZAWA df. Taiga ONISHI, 8-7

Bronze - Shoya ITO df. Shu HIRATA by TF, 10-1, 1:54
Bronze - Mizuki ARAKI df. Kagetora OKAMOTO by Def.

Semifinal - Kohaku KANAZAWA df. Shoya ITO, 10-6
Semifinal - Taiga ONISHI df. Kagetora OKAMOTO by TF, 8-0, 2:21

87kg (10 entries)
Semifinal - Masato SUMI df. Daisei ISOE by TF, 8-0, :32
Semifinal - So SAKABE df. Kaito MIYAMOTO by TF, 9-0, 1:58

97kg (11 entries)
Semifinal - Yuta NARA df. Yuri NAKAZATO, 5-0
Semifinal - Masayuki AMANO df. Kyo KITAWAKI by Fall, 1:15 (8-0)

130kg (10 entries)
Semifinal - Shion OBATA df. Daigo NISHI by TF, 9-1, 3:57
Semifinal - Sota OKUMURA df. Ryuta KONO by TF, 11-2, 4:52


55kg (14 entries)
Gold - Moe KIYOOKA df. Rino KATAOKA, 2-0

Bronze - Kanon YAMASHITA df. Ruka NATAMI, 9-4
Bronze - Neon GOMI df. Misaki YOSHIBA, 2-1

Semifinal - Moe KIYOOKA df. Kanon YAMASHITA, 12-6
Semifinal - Rino KATAOKA df Neon GOMI, 4-2

65kg (10 entries)
Gold - Mahiro YOSHITAKE df. Rin TERAMOTO, 5-3

Bronze - Misuzu ENOMOTO df. Nagisa ITO by TF, 10-0, 2:09
Bronze - Momoko KITADE df. Kaede HIRAI, 5-1

Semifinal - Mahiro YOSHITAKE df. Misuzu ENOMOTO, 12-10
Semifinal - Rin TERAMOTO df. Momoko KITADE, 2-2

68kg (9 entries)
Semifinal - Ami ISHII df. Naruha MATSUYUKI by TF, 12-2, 5:55
Semifinal - Miwa MORIKAWA df. Miyu IMAI, 3-0

76kg (7 entries)
Semifinal - Nodoka YAMAMOTO df. Mizuki NAGASHIMA, 4-0
Semifinal - Ayano MORO df. Nanaha TAKASU by TF, 10-0, 1:10


Motoki moves up to stun Ozaki; Otoguro, Fujinami, Fumita all prevail

By Ken Marantz

TOKYO (December 25) -- In a tournament that had its share of shocks, none was as stunning as the one pulled off in the finale by Sakura MOTOKI, who followed up her upset of the Olympic champion at women's 62kg by taking down the reigning world champion.

Motoki, moving up to the Olympic weight class from 59kg, handed world champion Nonoka OZAKI her first domestic loss in four years with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory in the final at the Emperor's Cup All-Japan Championships on Sunday at Tokyo.

"Since losing at the World Championships, I've thought for the last three months of winning here and I'm happy I was able to pull it off," said Motoki, who won a world bronze medal at 59kg in Belgrade in September a month after winning the world U20 gold.

The other featured finals went according to form, with Olympic champion Takuto OTOGURO and former world champions Akari FUJINAMI and Kenichiro FUMITA all emerging victorious on the last day of the four-day tournament that is also serving as the first domestic qualifier for next year's World Championships, to also be held in Belgrade.

Otoguro, appearing in his first competition since winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics at freestyle 65kg, finished up an unscored-upon run to his third national title and first since 2019 with a 4-0 victory over world U23 bronze medalist Ryoma ANRAKU.

Teen phenom Fujinami, returning from a spate of injuries that cause her to withdraw from both the senior and U20 worlds, captured her third straight title at women's 53kg with a 5-0 victory over a rejuvenated Haruna OKUNO that also extended her current winning streak to 106.

Okuno had pulled off one of the tournament's upsets by knocking off Olympic champion Mayu SHIDOCHI in the semifinals on Saturday.

Olympic silver medalist Fumita continued an unusual pattern of winning in even-numbered years, defeating Maito KAWANA in the Greco 60kg final to add to the titles he won in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

The victorious wrestlers moved halfway to securing spots on the world team to Belgrade, where, for those in the Olympic weight classes, the first qualifying berths for the 2024 Paris Olympics will be at stake.

The losers will get another chance at the second domestic qualifier, the Meiji Cup All-Japan Invitational Championships in June, where a victory will set up a playoff with the Emperor's Cup champions.

Sakura MOTOKI (JPN)Sakura MOTOKI became the first Japanese to beat Nonoka OZAKI in four years with a victory in the women's 62kg final. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

The Japan federation has sweetened the pot for making the team to the Belgrade worlds, as a medal there in an Olympic weight means an automatic ticket for that wrestler to Paris. For women, in particular, the sense of urgency for getting to Belgrade is high.

Motoki has her own incentive for getting to the Olympics. Since she started wrestling at age 3, the Ikuei University student has been aiming to follow in the footsteps of her father, Yasutoshi, who competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where he placed ninth at Greco 63kg.

"My father had a tough road leading up to the Olympics, with injuries and losses along the way," the 20-year-old Motoki said. "I expected to have the same hard road. So like my father, I will never give up until the end so I can get to the Olympics."

Such conviction was on full display against Ozaki when Motoki trailed 2-0 in the second period, having given up a pair of activity points. Motoki cut the lead with a stepout, then clinched the win with a duck-under takedown with :24 left.

Ozaki made a desperate attempt for the winning takedown when she tried to spin behind in the final seconds, but Motoki managed to hold on for the victory. An unsuccessful challenge added the final point.

"In the three months after the World Championships, I feel I've made progress technique-wise and mentally," Motoki said. "I wasn't confident of being the strongest at 62kg, but I was confident that I was stronger compared to where I was at the World Championships."

It was in Belgrade that Motoki suffered a disappointing loss that, upon reflection, indirectly laid the groundwork for her win over Ozaki.

In the semifinals, Motoki had taken the lead against Anastasia NICHITA (MDA), only to be reversed to her back late in the match and eventually lose 7-5. Motoki had tried desperately to score at the end, which she later realized was a losing strategy.

"In the last 30 seconds, I was haphazardly trying anything and I couldn't win, which I later regretted," Motoki said. "I practiced a lot looking at how much time was left and thinking about what to do, and I think that paid off today."

The victory came in the wake of her 9-2 victory in the semifinals over Olympic champion Yukako KAWAI, who later revealed she had not fully recovered from a back injury that had forced her to withdraw from a domestic tournament in October.

"Looking just at results, Kawai and Ozaki are above me," Motoki said. "I finished third at the World Championships in a non-Olympic weight class. They have the gold medals from the Olympics and World Championships that I am aiming for. I saw myself as the challenger."

The 19-year-old Ozaki was left in tears, having come into the tournament on an amazing roll that included a win over Kawai at the Meiji Cup last May. In a three-month span this fall, she picked up in succession the world U20, senior and U23 golds.

"I always try to be aggressive in my wrestling, and when I try to think about what was lacking today, I don't know," said Ozaki, whose last loss to a fellow Japanese was in the semifinals of the inter-high school championships in August 2018 to Yuzuka INAGAKI.

Looking ahead to the Meiji Cup, Ozaki said, "There is nothing beyond that. I have to change gears and make next year mine."

Takuto OTOGURO (JPN)Takuto OTOGURO works to score a takedown against Ryoma ANRAKU in the freestyle 65kg final. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

Otoguro, the 2018 world champion, showed no rust from the 14 months he had been away from competition, as he wrestled a solid match against a formidable opponent in Anraku.

After gaining an activity point, Otoguro showed one of his best traits of quickly transitioning to score a takedown off a single-leg attack that Anraku fiercely resisted. In a tense second period with few attacks, Otoguro added a stepout at the buzzer.

"Today and yesterday, I had three matches in my first tournament in a while," Otoguro said. "As it went on, it got more enjoyable. I was able to beat strong opponents, so I think it was a good performance."

Otoguro said that he considered his time away from the mat as a positive. "There were no real drawbacks," he said. "Instead, I was able to focus on this tournament. There were only good aspects."

In Otoguro's absence, a new young champion has emerged in Rahman AMOUZAD (IRI). Otoguro said he did not watch this year's World Championships, but is aware of the Iranian. As for a possible meeting at this year's Asian Championships, Otoguro, who won back-to-back Asian titles in 2020 and 2021, would not commit.

"I'll talk it over with my coach," he said. "If I have the chance, I want to get started on having international matches."

Akari FUJINAMI (JPN)Akari FUJINAMI shoots for a takedown in the women's 53kg final against Haruna OKUNO. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

Fujinami's absence from the competition was not her choice, as a foot injury kept her from defending her senior world title in Belgrade and a knee injury forced her out of the world U20.

That meant she had not had a match since the national collegiate championships in August, where she won the 55kg title.

"Even though I was confident," Fujinami said. "I had had a series of injuries and there was a time I couldn't compete, so there was also uncertainty as well as pressure. I'm glad I could still come out with the win."

In the final, Fujinami used her low single attack to score takedowns in both periods and fend off all attacks to defeat Okuno for the fourth time in four career meetings, most recently a 4-0 win in the Meiji Cup final.

"I expected her to come up with a strategy, but I'm confident of my training and I put it all out on the mat," Fujinami said.

Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN)Kenichi FUMITA positions himself for a throw in the Greco 60kg final against Maito KAWANA. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

For Fumita, winning the Greco 60kg gold for his fourth career title and first since 2020 helped restore the good name of the Nippon Sports Science University (NSSU) alumni in Greco, which was dealt a number of setbacks earlier in the tournament.

Olympic bronze medalist Shohei YABIKU lost in the third-place match at 77kg, while Katsuaki ENDO failed to defend his title at 67kg with a loss in the final.

"Overall, it hadn't been a good tournament for the alumni from Nittaidai, for Shohei and Katsuaki," Fumita said, using the familiar term for NSSU. "In Greco, we have wrestled poorly."

Fumita, the 2017 and 2019 world champion who had to settle for a bronze this year, scored three points in each period for a 6-0 victory over Maito KAWANA to restore NSSU to good standing. He had a gut wrench from par terre in the first period and a takedown and stepout in the second.

It was far better than his opening match when he got thrown for 4 in a 7-4 victory over Kaito INABA, a current student at NSSU.

"In my first match yesterday, the bad side of me came out," Fumita said. "After that, I thought I had to turn it around and stop the bad flow so I aimed to get a good result. And I won and took a step closer to Paris."

ShotaTANOKURA (JPN)In-laws Shota TANOKURA and Mayu SHIDOCHI indicate the place each took in the tournament. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

Tanokura takes bronze in return pushed by in-law

One of the more interesting stories of the tournament culminated with former Asian champion Shota TANOKURA taking third place at Greco 55kg in his return from a four-year absence.

The 32-year-old Tanokura, currently the coach at Tokyo's Jiyugaoka Gakuen High School, was urged to give it another whirl by a family member, who just happens to be Shidochi. Tanokura's wife is the younger sister of Shidochi's husband and coach, Shota SHIDOCHI -- a classmate of Tanokura's at NSSU.

"'Let's go to [the] Paris [Olympics] together,'" Tanokura said was the line that Mayu used to pester him into returning to competition. "'Do it one more time.'"

Tanokura agreed, not so much over his own desire to make the Olympics but to assuage Mayu. "I wasn't thinking of Paris, but Mayu wanted to us to go together," he said. "If I went, she said it would give her mental strength."

He qualified for the Emperor's Cup by winning the title at the All-Japan Non-Student Championships in October. That was his first competition since placing eighth at 55kg at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest.

Tanokura won the Asian gold earlier that year in Bishkek, beating local favorite Zholoman SHARSHENBEKOV (KGZ) in the final. He also came away with the gold in his most recent Emperor's Cup appearance in 2017, adding to the titles he won in 2012 and 2013.

In Sunday's bronze-medal match, Tanokura showed some of his old magic with a majestic five-point throw in a 7-4 victory over collegian Yuto GOMI.

"I'm really happy," Tanokura said of coming away with a bronze, which qualifies him for the Meiji Cup. He is still undecided whether he will enter that tournament. "If I enter, I'll give it my all. Right now I'm torn. If my family pushes it, I might do it."

In the quarterfinals, Tanokura executed a nifty duck-under-and-lift that sent Kawana sailing head over heels and onto his back for 4 points, but he still came out on the short end of a 7-4 decision.

"That's the level I am at now," Tanokura said. "I didn't practice and you can't take matches lightly."

Tanokura's lone regret was that he didn't get to face either Fumita or Yu SHIOTANI, his former team member at Jiyugaoka Gakuen and a world 55kg bronze medalist, who had moved up to the Olympic weight class but lost to Gomi in his opening match.

Mayu SHIDOCHI (JPN)Mayu SHIDOCHI records a fall over Yumi SHIMONO in a women's 53kg bronze-medal match. (Photo: Takeo Yabuki/Japan Wrestling Federation)

As it turned out, bronze became the family color of the day as Shidochi bounced back from her stunning loss to Okuno to finish third at women's 53kg with a victory by fall over collegiate champion Yumi SHIMONO.

"Finishing up with a win is good leading up to the Meiji Cup," Shidochi said. "I'm glad I was able to turn it around. In the past, I wasn't able to do that."

Shidochi led 2-0 after receiving activity points in both the first and second periods, then fought off a Shimono takedown attempt that would have put her behind. When Shimono shot again, Shidochi straightened her up and pancaked her to her back, notching the fall at 4:59.

"The new generation of wrestlers are getting stronger," the 25-year-old Shidochi said. "They are providing the motivation for me to train hard to beat them. The Tokyo Olympics are in the past."

Shidochi knows that to have any chance of defending her Olympic gold, she will first have to face and defeat Fujinami.

"She's a really strong athlete, with a long reach and good speed," Shidochi said. "She's at the top of the world. To get to Paris, I have to beat her. Even for Fujinami, the 53kg class is deep."

Day 4 Results


61kg (14 entries)
Gold - Kodai OGAWA df. Hayato FUJITA, 7-0

Bronze - Kaito MORITA df. Kazuya KOYANAGI by TF, 11-0, 2:21
Bronze - Taichi YAMAGUCHI df. Kosei KANEKO, 10-8

Semifinal - Kodai OGAWA df. Kazuya KOYANAGI, 10-4
Semifinal - Hayato FUJITA df. Kosei KANEKO by TF, 14-4, 4:25

65kg (14 entries)
Gold - Takuto OTOGURO df. Ryoma ANRAKU, 4-0

Bronze - Kaiji OGINO df. Kenho UTO by TF, 11-0, 6:00
Bronze - Kotaro KIYOOKA df. Yujiro UENO, 14-6


60kg (11 entries)
Gold - Kenichiro FUMITA df. Maito KAWANA, 6-0

Bronze - Kaito INABA df. Kosei TAKESHITA by TF, 11-1, 4:22
Bronze - Shota TANOKURA df. Yuto GOMI, 7-4

72kg (11 entries)
Gold - Taishi HORIE df. Shoki NAKADA by TF, 9-0, 3:32

Bronze - Daigo KOBAYASHI df. Seiya TERADA by Fall, 4:03 (7-3)
Bronze - Tetsuto KANUKA df. Yuga KASUGAI, 9-5

Semifinal - Taishi HORIE df. Daigo KOBAYASHI, 3-1
Semifinal - Shoki NAKADA df. Tetsuto KANUKA, 7-1


53kg (9 entries)
Gold - Akari FUJINAMI df. Haruna OKUNO, 5-0

Bronze - Mako ONO df. Nagisa HARADA, 6-0
Bronze - Mayu SHIDOCHI df. Yumi SHIMONO by Fall, 4:59 (6-0)

62kg (11 entries)
Gold - Sakura MOTOKI df. Nonoka OZAKI, 4-2

Bronze - Naomi RUIKE df. Nayu UCHIDA by Fall, 5:58 (10-0)
Bronze - Kiwa IWASAWA df. Yukako KAWAI by Def.