Susaki and Higuchi Poised to Returned to Japan's Starting Lineup
Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 10:16 By Eric Olanowski
ALMATY, Kazakhstan (March 31) -- Japanese stars Yui SUSAKI (JPN) and Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) are poised to make their return to the starting lineup at next week's Asian Olympic Qualifier (April 9-11).
Susaki will represent Japan at 50kg for the first time since the '19 Women’s Wrestling World Cup, where she went 2-0 and scored wins over Yanan SUN (CHN) and Whitney CONDER (USA). Higuchi, on the other hand, will make his 57kg debut in Japan's lineup for the first time since winning a silver medal at the '16 Olympic Games.
Susaki, the two-time world champion, fell to Yuki IRIE (JPN) in a ’19 playoff and lost her starting spot on Japan’s ’19 world championship team. But, in surprising fashion, Irie dropped a barn-burning quarterfinal-match in Nur-Sultan to Rio Olympic bronze medalist Sun and squandered the opportunity to qualify the Tokyo Games host nation at 50kg. This left the door open for Susaki to make a last-ditch effort to reclaim her starting spot, and hopefully, compete at the Olympic Games in her home country.
Susaki regained her starting spot and the right to represent Japan at the Asian Olympic Qualifier by winning gold at the ’19 December All-Japan Championships.
Meanwhile, Higuchi will return to international competition at 57kg for the first time since the '16 Rio Olympic Games. The energetic fan-favorite is best known for his unbelievable showing in Rio where he put on an absolute show en route to a surprising run to the finals. Higuchi won four matches in Brazil before ultimately falling to Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO) in the gold medal match.
Since that magical run in Rio, Higuchi has competed at 61kg and 65kg. But after falling to Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) in a Japan wrestle-off, Higuchi was forced to move back down to 57kg to keep a dream alive of improving his silver to Olympic gold. He defeated ’17 world champion Yuki TAKAHASHI at the All Japan Championships and earned his right to represent Japan at 57kg.
The Asian Olympic Qualifiers kicks off on April 9-11 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Greco-Roman action starts on Friday, followed by women's wrestling on Saturday, and freestyle closes out the competition on Sunday.
50kg Women's Wrestling Entries
Seema SEEMA (IND)
Misaki YOSHIBA (JPN)
Yui SUSAKI (JPN)
Miran CHEON (KOR)
YeoJin KIM (KOR)
Namuuntsetseg TSOGT OCHIR (MGL)
Dauletbike YAKHSHIMURATOVA (UZB)
57kg Freestyle Entries
Minghu LIU (CHN)
Ahmed Jawad Kadhim AL ZAIDAWI (IRQ)
Rei HIGUCHI (JPN)
Kodai OGAWA (JPN)
Bekbolot MYRZANAZAR UULU (KGZ)
Ulukbek ZHOLDOSHBEKOV (KGZ)
Sunggwon KIM (KOR)
Hyeonsik SONG (KOR)
Tuvshintulga TUMENBILEG (MGL)
Muhammad BILAL (PAK)
Allen Mitch ARCILLA (PHI)
Muhamad IKROMOV (TJK)
Rozgeldi SEYIDOV (TKM)
Gulomjon ABDULLAEV (UZB)