CHIBA – Japanese wrestler Kenichiro Fumita earned a silver medal after losing to Cuban Luis Orta Sanchez in the men’s Greco-Roman 60-kilogram final at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.
The 25-year-old Fumita was bidding to become the first Japanese Greco-Roman wrestler to win Olympic gold since Atsuji Miyahara achieved the feat in the men’s 52-kg category at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, but Orta Sanchez beat the 2019 world champion 5-1.
“I wanted to win and give back to all the volunteers, all the people involved who put the Olympics on during these difficult times. They believed in the athletes more than we believed in ourselves. I’m truly sorry for this disappointing result,” said Fumita, who was sobbing during his post-match interview.
Even with Fumita’s defeat, Japan extended a streak of 17 consecutive tournaments of winning Olympic medals in men’s wrestling, including freestyle, dating back to the 1952 Helsinki Games, but excluding the 1980 Moscow Olympics which were boycotted by Japan and other nations.
Japan also secured a podium in a third straight Olympic Greco-Roman tournament, following Shinobu Ota, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics 59 kg silver medalist, and Ryutaro Matsumoto, a bronze medalist at 60 kg at the 2012 London Games.
Fumita, a native of Yamanashi Prefecture, took full advantage of his throwing techniques to claim the 59-kg title in his debut at the 2017 world championships and again reached the top podium spot at 60 kg in 2019. He beat out Ota for a ticket to the Tokyo Games, allowing him to make his Olympic debut.
Fumita never got his attack rolling in the final at Makuhari Messe Hall, the Cuban mounting a 4-0 lead in the first period before the Japanese wrestler managed a point in the second. Orta Sanchez scored another technical point to stamp his authority at the end.
“It was such an honor to stand on the mat for the final, and I did it with the help of so many people, including my coaches and my family. I wanted to repay them with the gold,” Fumita said.
China’s Walihan Sailike and Russian Sergey Emelin won bronze medals in the Greco-Roman 60 kg class.
At 130 kg, 38-year-old Mijain Lopez Nunez of Cuba won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Olympic title in the heaviest weight class, routing Georgian Iakobi Kajaia 5-0 in the final. Turkey’s Riza Kayaalp, the silver medalist in Rio, and Russian Sergei Semenov won bronze medals.
Japan’s Shohei Yabiku fell in the Greco-Roman 77 kg category in a 3-1 loss to Hungary’s Tamas Lorincz, the 2019 world champion, in his second bout of the day but advanced to a bronze medal match on Tuesday, by virtue of Lorincz reaching the final against Akzhol Makhmudov of Kyrgyzstan. Yabiku had beaten Kazak Demeu Zhadrayev 5-3 in his first bout of the day.
In the Greco-Roman 97 kg class, Russian Musa Evloev reached a final match against Armenian Artur Aleksanyan scheduled for Tuesday.
In the women’s bracket, Germany’s Aline Rotter Focken defeated American Adeline Gray 7-3 in the freestyle 76 kg final.
Japan’s Hiroe Minagawa, making her Olympic debut at age 33, lost 2-0 to China’s Zhou Qian in a bronze medal match. She had been aiming to become the first Japanese women to win a medal in the heaviest category since Kyoko Hamaguchi’s bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“We haven’t been able to get a medal in the heaviest weight class in such a long time so I was determined to get one,” Minagawa said. “It was my final match and I wanted to give everything to it but I wasn’t able to fight through over the six minutes. I want to apologize to all of the people who supported me here.”
Along with Zhou, Turkey’s Yasemin Adar, the 2017 world champion at 75 kg, won the other 76-kg bronze.
Earlier in the day in the women’s freestyle 68 kg, Rio Olympic champion Sara Dosho suffered a shock defeat to American Tamyra Stock Mensah, the 2019 world champion thrashing the Japanese wrestler in a 10-0 technical fall in her opening match.
But Dosho was able to book a spot in repechage and keep her hopes of bronze alive after Stock Mensah advanced to the final, where she will face Nigeria’s Blessing Oborududu on Tuesday.
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