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Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008

Asa shrugs off retirement chatter

Kyodo News

Troubled yokozuna Asashoryu said Wednesday he hopes to make a speedy recovery, but refused to be drawn into the talk of retirement a day after he pulled out of the ongoing Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament with an injured left elbow.

News photo
Climbing to top: Yokozuna Hakuho throws down Goeido in the battle of the wrestlers holding a 9-1 record to take the solo lead of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Wednesday. Hakuho improved to 10-1 while Goeido slipped to 9-2. KYODO PHOTO

"I want to get better. I will consult a doctor and consider the quickest way to get it (the elbow) healed," Asashoryu said at his Takasago stable.

Asashoryu's withdrawal Tuesday came 24 hours after his autumn basho campaign at Ryogoku Kokugikan plunged to new depths with a fourth defeat at the hands of sekiwake Ama.

Asashoryu presented the Japan Sumo Association with a medical certificate saying he would need a three-week rest, though he was unsure whether he would be able to compete in the Kyushu meet in November.

"I can't see what lies ahead. I will have to speak to the stablemaster to see if my condition is good enough to wrestle for 15 days," said Asashoryu, who also made no mention of participating in next month's regional tour.

Asashoryu's future will be very much on the line if he competes in the Kyushu meet.

"I am not thinking about that," he said. "We are in the middle of a tournament at the moment and (to talk about it) would not be fair to the other wrestlers."

Looking back on his performance at the autumn meet, Asashoryu, who injured the same elbow and was forced to pull out of the Nagoya tourney in July, added, "My will to win was maybe too strong and the results didn't follow. I feel bad (for my fans). To be honest I didn't have time to recover (from the injury from Nagoya)."

Asashoryu's career has taken a downward turn this past year and he has claimed no title since beating rival grand champion Hakuho on the final day of the spring meet in March.

The 22-time Emperor's Cup winner has been struggling to get back to his best since he was hit with a two-tournament suspension for feigning the extent of his injuries in order to skip a summer regional tour in 2007.

Hakuho alone on top

Kyodo News

Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho took sole possession of the lead Wednesday to move into pole position in the hunt for his eighth career Emperor's Cup, beating rank-and-filer Goeido at the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament.

In a battle of wrestlers sharing the lead on 9-1, Hakuho gave Goeido a sumo clinic by quickly pulling down the No. 5 maegashira by the arm immediately after the face-off to move in front with four days remaining at Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Hakuho, the only remaining yokozuna after Asashoryu pulled out with an elbow injury on Tuesday, is aiming for back-to-back titles after winning the Nagoya meet.

Ozeki Kotomitsuki, sekiwake Ama and Goeido sit one off the pace with 9-2 records.

Kotomitsuki made mincemeat out of Tochinonada (3-8), bulldozing the No. 4 maegashira over the edge.

Ama meanwhile, came to a standstill against fellow sekiwake Toyonoshima (4-7) but managed to wrench his opponent down with a perfectly timed pulling overarm throw to stay in the title race.

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