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Olympic champions Kawai, Dosho capture national titles


Rio Olympic gold medalists Risako Kawai and Sara Dosho wrapped up the year on a high note by winning their respective weight class at the All-Japan Wrestling Championships Friday.

Kawai, who won the women’s 63-kg category in Brazil this summer, defeated Chiho Hamada 3-0 in the 58-kg final at Yoyogi National Gymnasium Annex in Tokyo for her second consecutive national title, having won the 60 kg a year ago.

With four-time reigning Olympic champion Kaori Icho absent, Kawai, who moved up a weight category for the Rio de Janeiro Games to increase her chance of winning a medal there, said she was glad to win the division in which she feels most comfortable.

“I’ve always thought this would be my placing if Kaori-san happened to be not competing,” the 22-year-old said. “I’m lighter and it’s really easy to move. This is the best division for me after all.”

“(Icho) is someone I have to overcome eventually,” she added. “I’m OK for now as everyone comes to watch me as the 63-kg Olympic champion but if I win the 58-kg class at the worlds next year then I’d like to be seen as such.”

In the 69-kg category, Dosho did not surrender a single point as she downed Miwa Morikawa in the final, scoring a technical fall and cruising to her sixth straight national title after winning her first in the former 67-kg class.

“I had the pride of being the (Olympic) gold medalist and wanted to show the difference in strength,” Dosho said. “I need to up my level mentally, physically and technically. I’d like to have someone to compete with (in Japan).”

Nineteen-year-old Mayu Mukaida won her first title in the 53-kg division with an 8-2 decision over Yu Miyahara.

Rei Higuchi, the men’s freestyle 57-kg silver medalist at the Rio Games, took the 61-kg national title in a solid manner as he lost just a single point in three matches before defeating Shoya Shimae with his third technical fall in the tournament.

Sosuke Takatani claimed his sixth straight national title at he 74 kg, beating Yajuro Yamasaki 10-1 in the final.

In Greco-Roman style, Rio silver medalist Shinobu Ota succumbed 9-7 in the men’s 59-kg final to Kenichiro Fumita, who earned his first title, while Takeshi Izumi edged Kazuhiro Hanayama 2-1 in the 71-kg final.