TOKYO (April 7) – World and Olympic bronze medalist Kenichi Yumoto edged national champion Shogo Maeda in a special wrestle-off to secure the men’s freestyle berth at 60kg on the Japanese squad for the 2012 London Olympic Games this summer.
Yumoto, who qualified Japan at 60kg for London with a bronze medal at last fall’s world championships, defeated Maeda 2-0 (1-0, 2-0) at Komazawa Gymnasium in the wrestle-off after falling to Maeda in the final of the trials mini-tournament.
Yumoto came into the trials with two points for qualifying Japan at the world meet with a medal, under Olympic team qualification rules set out by the Japan Wrestling Federation. Three points were needed to secure the Olympic team berth and Yumoto could have obtained that point by winning the national crown in December.
Instead, Yumoto lost in the quarterfinals of the All-Japan meet and Maeda went on to claim the championship title and one point toward taking the ticket to London.
To decide on the 60kg representative, the JWF set up a four-man mini-tournament with the winner being awarded one point. If the matter was still undecided after the mini-tournament, a special wrestle-off would be held.
In the finals of the mini-tournament, Maeda opened with an arm throw for a go-behind and one point for the first period. The two wrestlers went to the clinch in the second and third periods and split, giving Maeda the win and a second qualification point.
In the wrestle-off, Yumoto took the first period from the clinch and then scored a takedown at the end of regulation time in the second for the win and the decisive qualification point.
With the triumph, Yumoto, winner of a bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Games, joins twin brother Shinichi Yumoto on the Japanese squad after Shinichi took second place at 55kg at the Asian Olympic qualifier last week in Kazakhstan.
Earlier in the wrestle-off, 2006 world bronze medalist Noriyuki Takatsuka defeated last year’s All-Japan runner-up Tomotsugu Ishida in the first round of the mini-tournament. Maeda, a fifth-place finisher at the 2009 worlds, then came from behind to defeat Takatsuka in the second round.
Olympic team trials, wrestle-off
Kenichi Yumoto df. Shogo Maeda, 2-0 (1-0=2:04, 2-0)
Olympic team trials mini-tournament, final
Maeda df. Yumoto, 2-1 (1-0, 0-3=2:01, 1-0=2:04)
Olympic team trials mini-tournament, round 2
Maeda df. Noriyuki Takatsuka, 2-1 0-2, 3-0, 1-0=2:07)
Olympic team trials mini-tournament, round 1
Takatsuka df. Tomotsugu Ishida, 2-0 (3-0, 1x-1=caution)