Japan has named a formidable line up for the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships to be held in New Delhi from February 18-23.
All the Japanese wrestlers who have qualified for the 2020 Olympics as well as multiple world champions will be in action in the Indian capital.
Japan - the wrestling giants to beat
Japan's eight quota places for Tokyo 2020 is the highest for any Asian country. Six of them have been taken, by the 2019 World Champion Risako Kawai (55kg), world number two in 53kg Mayu Mukaida, the 62kg world bronze medallist Yukako Kawai, world number two in 76kg women Hiroe Minagawa, world champion in 60kg (Greco-Roman) Kenichiro Fumita and the 2018 world champion Takuto Otoguro.
The Asian Wrestling Championships results will not affect the wrestlers' Olympic quotas, but being a ranking competition of the World Wrestling Federation (UWW), the outcomes will affect the seeding rights of the Tokyo Olympics 2020, i.e. determine the players’ rankings at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Vinesh Phogat Seeks Redemption
From the Japanese line-up, one name that will likely arouse Indian attention is world number two Mayu Mukaida, who has been a tough nut to crack for India's Vinesh Phogat as she continues to try and scale the peak of the 53kg weight class.
Vinesh Phogat was no match for Mayu Mukaida at the World Championships held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in September 2019. After making short work of Sweden's Sofia Mattson, beating the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medallist 13-0, Vinesh Phogat was soundly humbled by Mayu Mukaida.
The reigning world champion took down Phogat with ease, and never let the Indian anywhere near a scoring position to end up winning 7-0.
Japan will enter the Asian World Championships having had an impressive stint in the 2019 edition of the tournament. The team won 17 medals, including four gold, and with their glowing line-up now, will be looking to add further glitter to their stash.
The Japanese wrestlers will be heading to India in three batches. The Greco-Roman squad will be the first to descend on the shores of the subcontinent, on February 15. They will be followed by the women's squad on February 17, and finally, the Men's Freestyle squad on February 19.