TOKYO (July 13) – Takuma Arizono won a special three-way wrestle-off to claim the 96kg position on the Japanese greco-roman team for the world championships this September in Istanbul.
Arizono of Yamanashi Gakuin University becomes the first university student on the Japanese men's world team since 2001 when Nihon University's Taichi Suga represented Japan at the world meet in Greece.
Arizono also follows in the footsteps of YGU head coach Kunihiko Obata, who first qualified for the Japanese world team as a YGU student in 2001 although he represented Japan at 76kg in freestyle throughout the Olympic qualification process in 2000.
The 96kg position opened up after world team veteran Katsuya Kitamura tested positive for a banned substance after the national team trials in April.
The wrestle-off was opened to Arizono as runner-up to Kitamura in December's national championships, national team trials runner-up Takahiro Mori, and Yuji Yamamoto, a third-place finisher in both the All-Japan meet and the trials. The winner would be the first wrestler to defeat both opponents back-to-back.
In the opening bout of the wrestle-offs, Yamamoto defeated Mori 2-0 (2-0, 1-0) on a gut wrench and go-behind takedown.
Arizono, however, edged Yamamoto in the second bout 2-1 (0-1, 2-0, 1-0), earning the choice in par terre in the third period and defending for 30 seconds for the win.
In the third bout, Arizono closed out the wrestle-off with a 2-1 (0-2, 3-2, 3-0) win over Mori, scoring with a second gut wrench in the second period after the first one was scored 2-2 and then wiggling out on top of Mori's gut wrench attempt in the third period.
“I had only one win against three losses against Yamamoto before today and I was 0-2 against Mori, but I had confidence in my conditioning and my strategy worked out ,” said Arizono. “I hope I can qualify for the Olympics at the world championships and wrestle in London.”