TOKYO (January 12) – Japan’s three reigning wrestling world champions were honored at the Tokyo Sports newspaper’s “Pro Wrestling Grand Prize” ceremony, expressing renewed resolve for success this Olympic year.
Hitomi Obara, Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho each received the special prize for wrestling after winning titles at the world championships in Istanbul last September and qualifying for the Olympic Games in London this summer.
“We have the World Cup in Tokyo in May. We want a good result there and then we want to set our sights on the Olympics,” said Icho, a two-time Olympic gold medalist at 63 kg as well as a seven-time world champ.
Icho also plans to get a headstart with some extra mat time against quality competition at the prestigious Yarygin International in Russia this month.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Sports ceremony also honored some former collegiate stars who now perform for pro wrestling groups.
Yoshida later remarked “Pro wrestling and (the Olympic styles) are different, but the performance of these former collegiate wrestlers is a great encouragement. The feeling that I have to do my best is now even stronger.”