LONDON (August 5-7) – Ryutaro Matsumoto won the battle of world runners-up to claim Japan's first Olympic Games medal in greco-roman since the Sydney 2000 Games as the classic style kicked off the wrestling competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Matsumoto, the runner-up at the 2010 world championships in Moscow, dropped 2011 world No.2 Almat Kebispayev (KAZ) in the third period of their seesaw battle at 60kg and held for the fall and the bronze medal.
Matsumoto lost in the semifinals to world champion and eventual gold medal winner Omid Noroozi (IRI).
Matsumoto's medal, won on the second day of wrestling competition in London, was the Japanese wrestling team's first medal of the 2012 Games and ensured that Japan would win a medal in the men's wrestling events for the 15th consecutive Olympics with the exception of the 1980 Moscow Games which were boycotted by the United States, Japan and other countries.
Japan's most recent Olympic Games medal in greco-roman before Matsumoto was a silver medal won by Katsuhiko Nagata at 69kg in Sydney.
On the first day of greco-roman, Asian Games champion Kohei Hasegawa got off to a good start with a win over 2011 world runner-up Elbek Tazhyiev (BLR), but fell to Danish veteran Hakan Nyblom (DEN) in the quarterfinals and had to settle for 10th place overall.
On the third and final day of greco-roman, Tsutomu Fujimura and Norikatsu Saikawa both lost in the opening matches and did not get a chance to wrestle in the consolation bracket.
Results of bouts involving Japanese entries:
55kg – HASEGAWA, Kohei (10th, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – df. Elbek TAZHYIEV (BLR), 2-0 (1-0, 3-0)
Hasegawa defends in par terre for the first period and then converts off a body tackle with a gut wrench to defeat the 2011 world runner-up and advance to the quarterfinals.
R3 – lost to Hakan NYBLOM (DEN), 0-2 (0-3, 0-2)
Hasegawa gave up a reverse waistlock and turn in par terre in the first period and could not convert from the advantage in the second. Japanese coaches called for a video review, saying that Nyblom had used his legs on defense, but the review was inconclusive.
Hasegawa was eliminated from medal contention and had to settle for 10th place when Nyblom lost in the semifinals to eventual gold medal winner Hamid Soryan (IRI).
60kg – MATSUMOTO, Ryutaro (Bronze medal, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – df. Rahman BILICI (TUR), 2-0 (1-0, 5-0)
Matsumoto scores with a force-out in the first period and executes a lift and back-arching throw against the two-time junior world champion to advance to the quarterfinals.
R3 – df. Tarik BELMADANI (FRA), 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
Matsumoto defended in par terre for the first period and then stepped over Belmandi's body tackle attempt for a point in the second.
SF – lost to Omid NOROOZI (IRI), 0-2 (0-1, 0-1)
Matsumoto could not convert from the par terre position in the first period and gave up a go-behind point in the second. Matsumoto appeared to score two points with a front-headlock and turn as time ran out in the second, but the video review showed that time had expired before exposure.
F3 – df. Almat KEBISPAYEV (KAZ) by fall, 3P=1:07 (1-2, 3-1, F3-0)
In a match between the 2010 and 2011 world silver medalists, Kebispayev converted with a reverse waistlock and turn in the first period and Matsumoto answered with a front headlock and drop for three points in the second.
Midway through the third period, Matsumoto dropped Kebispayev with a quick toss from the chest-to-chest position and pressed for the fall and the bronze medal.
66kg – FUJIMURA, Tsutomu (13th, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – lost to Justin LESTER (USA), 0-2 (0-3, 1-3)
Fujimura escaped early from underneath in par terre but was thrown for three points by Lester with only 15 seconds remaining in the period. Midway through the second, Lester scored three points with a body tackle to seal the win.
Fujimura was knocked out of medal contention when Lester, a two-time former world bronze medalist, lost in the quarterfinals to Tamas Lorincz (HUN).
96kg – SAIKAWA, Norikatsu (16th, 19 entries)
R1 – bye
R2 – lost to Jimmy LIDBERG (SWE), 0-2 (0-2, 0-1)
Saikawa was turned in par terre with a reverse waistlock by Lidberg. In the second period, Pytlasinski winner Saikawa locked up a tight grip in par terre but was unable to turn the two-time world runner-up.
Lidberg lost in the quarterfinals to world No.3 Rustam Totrov (RUS), knocking Saikawa out of medal contention.