Sumo

Hakuho withdraws from New Year Basho on penultimate day

Kyodo

New Year Basho

Yokozuna Hakuho has withdrawn from the ongoing New Year Grand Sumo Tournament due to injuries, ending his bid for a record-extending 42nd top division championship, his stablemaster announced Saturday.

The Mongolian won his first 10 bouts at the year’s opening grand tournament, but suffered three consecutive losses and fell behind sekiwake Tamawashi, who took the lead Friday with his 11th win at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

The 33-year-old Hakuho was diagnosed with injuries to his right knee and left foot, requiring about a week of recovery.

“(His right knee) is swollen and it can’t be helped. His ankle also seems (to have a problem),” Hakuho’s stablemaster Miyagino said.

According to Miyagino, Hakuho injured his right knee on Day 4 when he beat No. 2 maegashira Hokutofuji, and hurt his left ankle the next day against No. 2 Nishikigi.

“He contacted me (Friday night) saying he couldn’t sleep because of the pain. It will ruin his career if he keeps pushing himself,” Miyagino said.

“It’s regrettable, but there’s nothing he can do. More than anything, I think he wanted to win the Heisei Era’s last tournament in Tokyo.”

Hakuho’s absence leaves the 15-day tournament without a yokozuna, following Kisenosato’s retirement and Kakuryu’s withdrawal on Day 6 due to right ankle pain.

It is Hakuho’s second straight withdrawal and the 11th time he’s missed all or part of a tournament since he began his career in 2001. He sat out the Kyushu Basho in November due to knee and ankle surgery after going 15-0 in September and claiming his 41st championship.

Ozeki Goeido, Hakuho’s opponent on Saturday, will win his scheduled match by forfeit to secure a winning record at 8-6.

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