Monday, January 26, 2009


Asa earns a gong

TOKYO: On the 25th, in the final day of the New Year grand sumo tournament which is being held at the Ryogokukokugikan, after dropping out of three consecutive tournaments, the Western Yokozuna Asashoryu (28, from Ulan Bator, Mongolia) of the Takasago sumo stable, in a play-off with Eastern Yokozuna Hakuho, for the first time in five tournaments and the 23rd time in his career, achieved tournament victory.

The above is translated (a bit over-literally) from the Mainichi newspaper. A little tip for anyone who wants to get on with reading Japanese newspapers: if you want to cut to the chase, having a gander at the end of the first paragraph usually does the job.

Anyway, Japanese being a pain in the brain is not news, but Asa's romp to victory in the New Year sumo tournament most certainly is. After a lot of talk about retirement in the media prior, Asa showed few signs of injury problems through the fifteen-day event, remaining unbeaten until the final day.

Hakuho, coming into the final day with one loss against his name, did enough to force a title play-off when he flung a lack-lustre Asa out of the ring in the day's final scheduled bout, leaving them tied on identical 14-1 records.

However, Asa managed to regain his composure and confidence sufficiently to march his opponent out of the ring in the play-off.

For those wanting some youtube action, I've updated the link on the right.


Other news of the tournament:

-After starting off the tournament like an absolute clown, Harumafuji put together an impressive second week to turn a 1-5 record into an 8-7 kachikoshi, meaning that he won't begin the next tournament under the threat of rank demotion. With a win against Hakuho also under his belt, hopefully he'll be able to start the next tournament (Spring, Osaka) with a bit more confidence and challenge for the top spot, (as per his own big talk about what an Ozeki should be up to) instead of spending most of the first week flat on his spotty face.

-One Ozeki who will be fighting to avoid rank demotion in Osaka is Kotomitsuki, who retired from the tournament after blundering to a record of two wins and ten losses.

-Kaio staved off retirement yet again, with a bare-minimum 8-7 kachikoshi to avoid rank demotion. Chiyotaikai also secured his winning majority on the final day, leaving Koto-oshu (10-5) the only Ozeki I don't consider an absolute disgrace to his rank.

-Neyagawa's very own Goeido returned strong figures of 10-5 and picked up the technique award too. I was a little nonplussed at this latter: Goeido's got hustle but I've never thought his technique was anything special. Unfamiliar as I am with the vagaries of how these awards get decided, I'm just as lost when it comes to deciding the rankings. However, due to the failure of those above him to return a winning record, I think Goeido will make it all the way up to Komusubi for the hometown tournament in Osaka.


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