Mukaida Also Falls to DPR Korean in One of Three Asian Finals Decided in Final Seconds

By Ken Marantz

XI’AN, China (April 26)—Having seen her teammate knock off one Japanese giant in the afternoon, PAK Yongmi (PRK) took down one of her own in the evening.

Pak scored a dramatic takedown in the final seconds to stun world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN), 4-3, in the 53kg final on the second and final day of women’s wrestling at the Asian Championships in Xi’an.

“Up to the final, everything was going well,” said a tearful Mukaida, who also suffered a last-second loss in the 53kg final at the Paris 2017 world championships. “In the final, I didn’t wrestle the type of match I had imagined.”

That was only a precursor of a night of high drama to come, as two of the four other titles at stake were decided in the dying seconds, one giving host China a gold and the other denying one of Japan’s four finalists.

Reigning world champion RONG Ningning (CHN) stole the 57kg gold medal with a last-second takedown against JONG Myong Suk (PRK). (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

World champion RONG Ningning (CHN) sent the crowd at Xidian University’s Invengo Gymnasium into a frenzy when she scored a 4-point takedown with two seconds left to defeat JONG Myong Suk (PRK), 4-2, for the 57kg gold.

Jong had pulled off the surprise of the tournament in the morning session, when she stunned four-time Olympic champion Kaori ICHO (JPN) 7-4 in the semifinals.

Not to be outdone, Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) saved the best for last in the 62kg final, capping a comeback from a 6-1 first-period deficit with a 2-point lift with three seconds left to vanquish world silver medalist Yukako KAWAI (JPN), 8-6.

The last two finals were more straight-forward affairs, with China and Japan each adding one final gold medal to their tallies to finish with four each. 

Japan, which placed nine of its 10 wrestlers in the finals over the two days, won the team title with 215 points. Host China, which medaled in eight weight classes, was second with 183, with India took third with 113, thanks mainly to four bronze medals.

PAK Yongmi (PRK) upset Japan's reigning 55kg world champion Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN), 4-3 to win the 53kg gold medal. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In the opening final, Mukaida, the 55kg world champion who has moved down to the Olympic weight of 53kg, took a 3-0 lead with a snap-down takedown early in the second period. 

But Pak, the defending champion who also won the Asian Games gold last summer in Jakarta, cut the gap with a low single-leg takedown. Mukaida, looking to pad her lead, used the same move to get a lock on Pak’s leg and was working to get behind. 

That’s when Pak adeptly made a grab for Mukaida’s heel, which knocked the Japanese off balance and onto her hip. Pak then worked her foot out from under Mukaida and gained control with :07 on the clock.

“In the end, she slipped her foot out and managed to get behind,” Mukaida said. “I need to put together the moves to finish that off.”

Mukaida had beaten Pak in their previous meeting, a 6-2 decision in the first round at Paris 2018, where the Japanese had to settle for silver after giving up a last-second 4-point move in an 8-6 loss to Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR). 

Jong, a world bronze medalist at 55kg and last summer’s Asian Games champion, can certainly sympathize with Mukaida, after suffering a similar fate at the hands of Rong. 

Using her lightning-quick speed, Jong scored a takedown in the first period, and it looked like that would hold up as the second period began winding down. With the seconds ticking away, Rong got in on a single leg, and as Jong fiercely resisted, the Chinese tripped her to her back for 4 points and the victory.  

“I knew she beat Icho and she trained specially for this tournament, so today when I took the mat I thought I should be more aggressive,” Rong said. 

“But this morning when I was aggressive, I lost two points. During the break between the periods, my coach told me to be patient and then I told myself to stay calm.”

Rong, energized by the cheering crowd, said she willed herself to keep fighting to the end, and it paid off as she added to the gold she won a year ago at 59kg in Bishkek.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Rong acknowledged. “When my opponent left the mat, she sighed [in disbelief].”

Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) scored an 8-6 come-from-behind win over 2018 world runner-up Yukako KAWAI (JPN) to win the 62kg gold medal. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In the 62kg final, Tynybekova gave up a takedown and a pair of rolls to Kawai to fall behind 6-1 going into the second period. But after chipping the lead down to two points, Kawai was assessed a penalty point for fleeing. 

As that was her second caution, Kawai went on the attack, taking a shot at a single leg and then holding on for dear life. With the clock ticking down, Tynybekova reached over, locked on a leg and fought desperately to lift Kawai up. 

“The lucky thing was that she passed through my legs, so I could get a grip on her leg,” Tynybekova said.

With :03 on the clock, she finally got Kawai up and over. An additional point for an unsuccessful challenge accounted for the final score.

“I was 100 percent sure I could turn her over,” said Tynybekova, who won her third Asian gold after skipping last year’s tournament in her home country due to a shoulder injury. “I practice that move over and over. I was sure I was going to win.”

While four of the five finals on Thursday featured clashes between Chinese and Japanese wrestlers, only one did on Friday, and that one went the host country’s way.

LUO Xiaojuan (CHN) scored a second-period takedown and, in contrast to the previous finals, that was the extent of the action as she defeated Naomi RUIKE (JPN), 3-0, at 65kg.

Yuka KAGAMI (JPN) grabbed the 72kg title with a 12-1 win over Korea's JEONG Seoyeon in the gold-medal bout. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka) 

High schooler and two-time world cadet champion Yuka KAGAMI (JPN) salvaged some Japanese pride on a disappointing day when she put on a second-period blitz to take the 72kg gold with a 12-1 technical fall over JEONG Seoyeon (KOR).

The first period was limited to an activity clock point awarded to Jeong. But Kagami scored an early takedown, then reeled off five consecutive rolls to end the match at 3:36. 

After the fourth roll, Kagami smiled and stopped, thinking she had already clinched the win. Realizing her mistake, she quickly resumed the match and got the decisive points. 

Four-time Olympic champion Kaori ICHO (JPN) bounced back to win a bronze medal at 57kg after falling in the semifinals to JONG Myong Suk (PRK). (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka) 

Meanwhile, Icho bounced back from her stunning loss to take a bronze medal at 57kg with a victory by fall over Thi My Trang NGUYEN (VIE).

After taking a 4-0 lead, Icho locked Nguyen in a cradle, levered her over and ended the match in 2:23.

“Not just the third-place match, but the three matches here made clear what direction I need to take my training,” said Icho, adding that even with the loss, she will take home more than the bronze.

“I understand what I need to change. Everything about this was a good experience.”

Uzbekistan captured three bronze medals, while India, Mongolia and Kazakhstan had two each.

Next up on the fifth day of the tournament is the men’s Greco-Roman competition in five weight classes.

Day 4 results

Women’s wrestling

53kg (11 entries)
Gold – PAK Yongmi (PRK) df. Mayu MUKAIDA (JPN), 4-3
Bronze – Aktenge KEUNIMJAEVA (UZB) df. KIM Hyungjoo (KOR), 9-3
Bronze – Vinesh VINESH (IND) df. PANG Qianyu (CHN), 8-1

57kg (10 entries)
Gold – RONG Ningning (CHN) df. JONG Myong Suk (PRK), 4-2
Bronze – Kaori ICHO (JPN) df. Thi My Trang NGUYEN (VIE) by Fall, 2:23 (4-0) 
Bronze – Tserenchimed SUKHEE (MGL) df. Pooja DHANDA (IND), 5-3

62kg (12 entries)
Gold – Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ) df. Yukako KAWAI (JPN), 8-6
Bronze – Nabira ESENBAEVA (UZB) df. Salinee SRISOMBAT (THA), by TF, 10-0, 1:19
Bronze – Sakshi MALIK (IND) df. MUN Hyon Gyong (PRK), 9-6 

65kg (8 entries)
Gold – LUO Xiaojuan (CHN) df. Naomi RUIKE (JPN), 3-0
Bronze – Aina TEMIRTASSOVA (KAZ) df. Kaur NAVJOT (IND), 7-0 
Bronze – Bolortungalag ZORIGT (MGL) df Sakhipjamal ALEUATDINOVA (UZB) by Fall, 4:43 (7-0) 

72kg (8 entries)
Gold – Yuka KAGAMI (JPN) df. JEONG Seoyeon (KOR) by TF, 12-1, 3:25
Bronze – Nilufar GADAEVA (UZB) df. Li Chia-Hsin (TPE) by TF, 11-0, 3:53 
Bronze – Zhamila BAKBERGENOVA (KAZ) df. WANG Juan (CHN), 13-6

Team Standings
1. Japan, 215 points (4 gold-5 silver-1 bronze)
2. China, 183 (4-2-1)
3. India, 113 (0-0-4)


Bakhramov Matches Brother as Asian Greco Champion; Geraei, Abdvali Also Strike Gold Among Siblings

By Ken Marantz

XI’AN, China (April 28)—Having seen his younger brother win a gold medal the day before, Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) did what comes naturally to a sibling. Wanting what he has.

Bakhramov made it two golds in the family when he captured the 60kg title as the Asian Championships finished up with competition in five Greco-Roman finals on the sixth and final day in Xi’an.

Bakhramov defeated RI Se Ung (PRK) by a 12-4 technical fall, avenging a loss in the semifinals at last year’s Asian Championships in Bishkek, where he had to settle for a bronze medal. 

It also gave Uzbekistan a second gold medal after younger brother Ilkhom captured the 55kg title the previous day.

“Two brothers in one sport is very excellent,” Bakhramov said. “We motivate each other. If the younger brother wins a medal, why shouldn’t the older brother also win? If he wins, I must win.”

Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) celebrates after winning the 72kg gold medal with a 5-0 win over China's ZHANG Hujun. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Meanwhile, Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) and Saeid ABDVALI (IRI)—who also had brothers competing in Xi’an, both of whom won bronze medals—cruised to the 72kg and 82kg titles, respectively, to help Iran capture the team championship by just two points ahead of Uzbekistan.

The title race came down to the final match of the tournament, and a 3-2 victory by Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) over Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB) in the 97kg final left Uzbekistan two points short of Iran, which won with 165 after securing four golds and three bronzes. 

Kazakhstan was third with 134 points, mainly on the strength of six bronze medals.

Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) tosses RI Se Ung (PRK) in the 60kg gold-medal bout. The Uzbekistan wrestler reached the top of the podium with a 12-4 victory. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In a never-a-dull moment 60kg final, Bakhramov got the advantage first in the par terre position and executed a roll for a 3-0 lead. But Ri, who knocked off 2017 world champion Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) and world bronze medalist Sailike WALIHAN (CHN) en route to the final, came back with a 2-point back drop.

Bakhramov replied with a twisting head lock for two points, but Ri struck back with a 2-point head lock throw to cut the gap to 5-4. 

In the second period, the Uzbeki padded his lead with a takedown and 1-point leg-grab penalty. With the seconds ticking down, Ri made a last-ditch leap for a score, but landed on his back, giving Bakhramov four points and the technical fall at the buzzer.

“Last time I didn’t know him, what moves he would do,” Bakhramov said. “This time I was ready absolutely. I trained very well and was completely ready for this championships.”

For Ilkhom Bakhramov, seeing his older brother’s success only doubled the pleasure of his own.

“Yesterday when I won the [gold] medal, I was really happy,” he said. “But it was like 50 percent. Today, my brother also won, so that’s why it’s 100 percent. I was shouting and jumping.”

Geraei, who was third at the Asian Games last summer in Jakarta, earned his first Asian title with a solid 5-0 victory over ZHANG Hujun (CHN) in the 72kg final. 

Geraei, whose older brother Mohammadali was third at 77kg on Saturday, scored a takedown in each period and was never really put in danger. 

Saeid ABDVALI (IRI) shutout India's Singh HARPEET, 8-0 to win the 82kg gold medal. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

Abdvali, a former world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, was even more dominant in putting away Singh HARPEET (IND) by 8-0 technical fall in 3:54, scoring two takedowns and four stepouts.

“My program to prepare for this championships was five months,” said Abdvali, who won all three of his matches by technical falls without surrendering a point to add a first Asian title to two Asian Games crowns. “At the competition, I was strong and ready.”

Advali said younger brother Saman, a bronze medalist at 63kg, had his chance for gold, too. “He made a mistake and that caused him to lose,” he said.

Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) celebrates after scoring the 3-2 win over Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB) in the 97kg gold-medal match. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

In the 97kg final, Dzhuzupbekov, who was third at both the Asian Championships and Asian Games last year, managed to roll Turdiev from the par terre position a minute into the second period to take a 3-1 lead, then held on for the victory.

RYU Hansu (KOR) used a four-point move to top Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ), 5-1 in the final at 67kg. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

The other title at stake on the final night at Xidian University’s Invengo Gymnasium went to RYU Hansu (KOR), who scored with a 4-point move with :46 left in the 67kg final to top world bronze medalist Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ), 5-1.

With the wrestlers tied at 1-1 from passivity points, Ryu secured a body lock from the side, then twisted Shermakhanbet backwards and down for the big-point move that secured his third Asian gold.  

“It’s something that I practice all the time,” said Ryu, a two-time Asian Games champion and 2017 world champion. “It came natural to me because I have done it so many times.”

Host China, which finished 10 points behind Kazakhstan in the team standings, ended on a positive note with three wrestlers taking bronze medals: ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN) at 67kg, QIAN Haitao (CHN) at 87 kg and XIAO Di (CHN) at 97kg. 

Japan came away with a pair of bronzes from Fumita at 60kg and Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN) at 67kg. Fumita, the 2017 world and Asian champion, won without a fight as Walihan defaulted their bronze-medal match due to a shoulder injury. 

One of the more exciting matches of the evening program was a come-from-behind victory by Maxat YEREZHEPOV (KAZ) in an 82kg bronze-medal match.

Trailing Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) 5-0, Yerezhepov was in the process of being lifted for a roll, when he suddenly clamped down on his opponent’s arm to send him to his back and win by an unlikely fall at 2:02.

Day 6 results


60kg (12 entries)

Gold – Islomjon BAKHRAMOV (UZB) df. RI Se Ung (PRK) by TF, 12-4, 6:00
Bronze – Gyanender GYANENDER (IND) df. HUANG Jui Chi (TPE) by TF, 9-0, 2:45
Bronze – Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) df. Sailike WALIHAN (CHN) by Default

67kg (14 entries)
Gold – RYU Hansu (KOR) df. Meiirzhan SHERMAKHANBET (KAZ), 5-1
Bronze – ZHANG Gaoquan (CHN) df. Abdulkarim AL HASAN (SYR), 7-0
Bronze – Shogo TAKAHASHI (JPN) df. Mirzobek RAKHMATOV (UZB), 5-2

72kg (9 entries)
Gold – Mohammadreza GERAEI (IRI) df. ZHANG Hujun (CHN), 5-0 
Bronze – Ruslan TSAREV (KGZ) df. Yogesh YOGESH (IND) by TF, 8-0, 1:12 
Bronze – Demeu ZHADRAYEV (KAZ) df. Aram VARDANYAN (UZB)  by Fall, 2:29 (3-2)

82kg (9 entries)
Gold – Saeid ABDVALI (IRI) df. Singh HARPEET (IND) by TF, 8-0, 3:54
Bronze – Maxat YEREZHEPOV (KAZ) df. Jalgasbay BERDIMURATOV (UZB) by Fall, 2:02 (2-5)
Bronze – QIAN Haitao (CHN) df. Burgo BEISHALIEV (KGZ) by TF, 9-0, 3:29 

97kg (9 entries)
Gold – Uzur DZHUZUPBEKOV (KGZ) df. Jahongir TURDIEV (UZB), 3-2
Bronze – XIAO Di (CHN) df. LEE Seyeol (KOR), 1-1 
Bronze – Mahdi ALIYARIFEIZABADI (IRI) df. Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ), 4-2

Team Standings
1. Iran 165 points (4 gold-0 silver-3 bronze)
2. Uzbekistan 163 (2-3-1)
3. Kazakhstan 134 (0-1-6)