World Wrestling Championships: Susaki, Shidochi lead Japan to top
While India have 1 bronze medal from the 2022 Wrestling World Championships so far courtesy Vinesh Phogat, Japan and USA have been the most dominant countries.
Yui SUSAKI (JPN), taking the international stage for the first time since her Olympic triumph last year, picked up right where she left off. Confident, cat-like quick and as dominant as ever.
Susaki stormed to her third world title with a first-period fall over Otgonjargal DOLGORJAV (MGL) in the 50kg final at the World Championships in Belgrade.
"I'm really happy I could be at a tournament again on this stage," said Susaki, who added to the world golds she won in 2017 and 2018. "This is a tournament where I knew I could become the world champion if I went into each and every match looking to have fun and give my all while doing my wrestling. I think I achieved my objective, so I have a good feeling."
Powerhouse Japan got a second gold later in the night when Miwa MORIKAWA (JPN) upgraded the silver medal at 65kg that she won a year ago in Oslo, while Olympic bronze medalist Yasemin ADAR (TUR) won her second world title at 76kg and unheralded Dominique PARRISH (USA) emerged victorious from a wide-open field at 53kg in her senior world debut.
Susaki, who has yet to lose to a non-Japanese opponent in her career, ravaged the field with four wins by either fall or technical fall, naturally without conceding a point. Showing her ability to adjust on the fly, she prevailed in the final despite not being able to secure a tackle or her trademark lace lock.
Asked what part of her game she needs to address, Susaki replied: "Tackling is my strong point. I need to find a way to break through when the opponent ties up, so I can get in on more tackles and that will lead to more points. So I want to work on that."
In other action, Tsugumi SAKURAI (JPN), after winning a world title last year at 55kg, moved up this year to 57kg to get an early start in her bid to achieve the difficult task of making Japan's team to the Paris Olympics.
Beating the reigning champion can certainly provide a welcome boost of confidence.
Sakurai scored a second-period takedown to win an intense struggle with former Olympic champion Helen MAROULIS (USA) 3-0 in the 57kg final as women's wrestling finished up on Thursday night with the last four weight classes at the World Championships in Belgrade.
"My opponent was an Olympic champion and is an athlete who always competes on the top level," Sakurai said. "I knew she was a strong wrestler. But I'm young, and I thought that I have to win. I had a strong desire to win, and I'm really happy to come out with the victory."
Sakurai's gold was the fifth won by Japan, which easily won the team title with 190 points as all nine of its wrestlers who made the trip to Belgrade will return with a medal (Japan had no entry at 53kg after a late injury withdrawal). The United States, with three titles, was second with 157, followed by China with 84.
The 53kg bronze went to eight-time Asian medalist Vinesh PHOGAT (IND), who put up a stiff wall of defense and scored on counters against European champion Emma MALMGREN (SWE). Phogat also scored on the two occasions when she went on the offensive to notch an 8-0 victory to add to the world bronze she won in 2019.