ISTANBUL (September 18) – Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu strung together four wins at 66kg but came up short of the gold medal on the final day of the senior wrestling world championships.
Yonemitsu lost in the final to Mehdi Taghavi Kermani (IRI) at Sinan Erdem Dome on a cross-ankle pick from the front headlock position in the first period and then was dropped from the clinch at the end of the second.
The result was a reversal of last fall's Asian Games final won by Yonemitsu and gave Japan its first silver medal in the men's freestyle world championships since 1995. Japan has not had a world champion in men's freestyle since 1981.
The triumph gave Taghavi Kermani his second world title along with the 2009 crown he won in Denmark and gave Iran its second champion of the men's freestyle tournament.
In his run up to the final, Yonemitsu had his low double-leg attack working as he rolled over the competition, including European champion Jabrayil Hazanov (AZE) in the quarterfinals and Euro runner-up Leonid Bazan (BUL) in the semis.
Meanwhile, Nobuyoshi Arakida posted a win at 120kg against a former British Commonwealth champion and finished 16th overall. Ryuta Takahashi had the early momentum against Pan American silver medalist Yonieski Blanco Moreno (CUB) but could not close the deal on a win. Takahashi, in his first world meet at the age of 29, had to settle for 27th place.
With two medalists in men's freestyle, Japan won a pair of medals in one of the men's styles for the first time since 1987 and finished seventh overall with 23 points.
Russia, despite a disappointing performance, won the team title with 43 points and two individual champions. Iran was second with 41 points and two champions followed by the United States with 38 points and one champion.
66kg – YONEMITSU, Tatsuhiro (Silver, 46 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – df. Buyanjav Batzorig (MGL), 2-0 (2-0, 2x-2=last)
Yonemitsu scores with his trademark low-double midway through the first period and adds a point off Buyanjav's headlock attempt. In the second, Yonemitsu attacks with the low double again but gets turned for two. But, he hangs on and gets two points for exposure and makes it stand for the period and the win.
R3 – df. Adam Sobieraj (POL), 2-0 (4-0, 2-1)
Yonemitsu opens with his low double-leg but is lifted over for an apparent 2-2 exchange. A video check resets the score at 3-0 for Yonemitsu along with a bonus point for a nearfall. The 2010 European bronze medal winner opens with a go-behind point, but Yonemitsu comes back with a single-leg and double-leg for the win.
R4 – df. Jabrayil Hasanov (AZE), 2-0 (5-4, 1-0)
A pair of double-legs by Yonemitsu and a pair of counters by the European champion has the scored knotted at 4-4 midway through the first period. Yonemitsu scores a late single-leg to take the first period and then grabs the second with another single-leg.
SF – df. Leonid Bazan (BUL), 2-0 (2-0, 4-2)
Yonemitsu showcases his double-leg attack with five separate shots in the first and second periods against the European silver medalist as he cruises into the final.
F1 – lost to Mehdi Taghavi Kermani (IRI), 0-2 (0-1, 0-1=2:05)
74kg – TAKAHASHI, Ryuta (27th, 45 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – lost to Yunieski Blanco Mora (CUB), 1-2 (2x-2=big, 0-2, 0-1)
Takahashi get back points off a double-leg and wins the first period on criteria. The Pan American runner-up, however, comes back with a throw and force-out in the second and a duck-under to takedown in the third.
Takahashi was eliminated from medal contention when Blanco Mora loses in the third round.
120kg – ARAKIDA, Nobuyoshi (16th, 31 entries)
R1 – Rajeev Tomar (IND), 2-0 (4-0, 1-0)
Arakida hits an inner thigh elevator “uchimata” throw at 1:40 for three points in the first period, and spins around behind for the win in the second.
R2 – lost to David Modzmanashvili (GEO), 0-2 (0-1, 0-7=2:00)
Arakida hangs tough in the first period, but the Golden Grand Prix bronze medalist opens up in the capping a seven-point run with leg grapevine for a nearfall.
Arakida is eliminated from medal contention and chance for a berth at the Olympic Games in London when Modzmanashvili falls in the quarterfinals.