Relieved Takayasu eyeing first title with ozeki promotion in the bag

Kyodo

Soon-to-be ozeki Takayasu spoke on Monday of his relief in coming through the crucial Summer Grand Sumo Tournament unhurt and with enough wins to make promotion almost certain, while making clear his sights are now set on an Emperor’s Cup title.

The Ibaraki-native, whose mother is from the Philippines, ended this month’s tourney with a 11-4 record as a sekiwake and took his tally to 34 wins over the past three tourneys, one above the required mark of 33 to reach the second highest rank.

His promotion is to be officially announced on Wednesday.

“I’m relieved I closed the 15 days without injury. I’ve been set free from a weight on my shoulders,” Takayasu told a news conference at his Tagonoura stable. “It was a defining meet and I’m glad I somehow secured the (required) mark.”

Things could have ended even better for the 27-year-old, who reached the 33-win threshold with three days to spare. Takayasu ended yokozuna Harumafuji’s chance of silverware with a win on the 13th day, but losses to No. 5 maegashira Shodai and ozeki Terunofuji brought him back to earth.

“There were bouts I dropped and also those where I showed my bad habits,” he said. “I’ll train my way through (ahead of July’s Nagoya tourney).”

It was the second promotion shot for Takayasu after he failed his first in November when he posted a 7-8 losing record after winning 23 bouts in the previous two meets. He again racked up a total of 23 in January and March this year, getting him the backing of his delighted stablemate yokozuna Kisenosato.

“I had the frustration from not managing to get the result in the Kyushu tourney. I went in with a strong resolve to somehow get over the line (at the summer event),” Takayasu said.

“He (Kisenosato) congratulated me. I was happy, I’m where I am now thanks to the yokozuna. I’m thankful for him and hopefully I can catch him soon.”

To do so, he needs two straight titles or results as good. He is fully aware of the task at hand, but also the weight that comes with being an ozeki before that.

“It’s a rank you can’t wrestle with half-baked mind set. I want to be a role model and be an imposing ozeki,” he said. “Now I’ll aim for the title, trying to win all the 15 bouts. I can’t go higher if I don’t win it.”