BUDAPEST – Takuto Otoguro won the 65-kilogram freestyle final at the World Wrestling Championships on Monday, becoming Japan’s youngest male wrestling world gold medalist at the age of 19 years, 10 months.
Otoguro defeated Indian star Bajrang Punia 16-9. He rewrote the previous Japanese record -— 20 years, 6 months -— held by his current Yamanashi Gakuin University coach, Yuji Takada, a gold medalist at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and four-time world champion.
Takada’s age record was set in 1974 when he claimed the 52-kg world title.
“I wanted to win a world title as soon as possible before the (2020) Tokyo Olympics so I’m glad I achieved that goal. It’s going to be tougher at the Olympics so I have to aim high and improve my skills. I have a lot to work on, which is good,” Otoguro said.
“I feel bad for beating my coach’s record but I admit I’m a little happy.”
Otoguro took an early 5-0 lead on a four-point throw and was up 7-6 at the break. Though he twisted his foot in the second period, he proved to be technically superior by blocking Punia’s bid to become India’s second-ever gold medalist.
In the men’s 92-kg freestyle class, Atsushi Matsumoto earned the bronze medal, edging Mongolian Turtogtokh Luvsandorj 6-5.
In the men’s 57-kg freestyle competition, 2017 world champion Yuki Takahashi rebounded from a semifinal loss to win one of two bronze medals with a 5-4 win over Reineri Andreu Ortega of Cuba.
In women’s wrestling, Japan’s Olympic gold medalist Risako Kawai (59 kg) and former world champion Mayu Mukaida (55 kg) each booked spots in their respective weight class finals, securing at least a silver medal.