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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kotomitsuki ready to become ozeki

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Sekiwake Kotomitsuki had a hangover from a bittersweet Sunday but said he is happy with the way he wrestled throughout the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, where he secured promotion to the second-highest rank of ozeki. Kotomitsuki compiled an impressive 13-2 record at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, although his final-day loss to rank-and-filer Kisenosato on Sunday cost him the second championship crown of his career.

News photo
Sekiwake Kotomitsuki, left, defeats yokozuna Hakuho with a perfect upper-arm throw in the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. The Sadogatake stable veteran had a 13-2 record in the basho and is expected to be promoted to ozeki on Wednesday. KYODO PHOTO

Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu won the Nagoya title at 14-1.

The overall performance of the Sadogatake stable veteran, however, was strong enough to convince officials of the Japan Sumo Association, which has decided to hold an executive meeting Wednesday to endorse his promotion.

"I still don't feel like I will become an ozeki at all but I want to praise myself for my effort," Kotomitsuki said. He said he was drinking until late last night to celebrate his success in the crunch tournament. But he added that he still feels disappointed with his failure to lift the Emperor's Cup.

"I wanted to force a championship playoff (with Asashoryu), at least," he said. "Yesterday's bout got me down the most during the whole tournament but everyone said 'congratulations' to me. It was a little bit hard for me to swallow."

Kotomitsuki met the JSA's loosely set requirement for ozeki promotion of 33 to 34 wins over three consecutive tournaments.

At 31 years, three months, Kotomitsuki will become the oldest wrestler to gain promotion to ozeki since the establishment of the six-tournament system in 1958.

"Becoming an ozeki has been one of the things I've been longing for in my career and I just want to be a man that really deserves the title of ozeki."

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