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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Asashoryu back east for Osaka spring meet

OSAKA (Kyodo) Asashoryu reclaims the prestigious east yokozuna slot for the Spring Grand Sumo Tournament as the Japan Sumo Association on Monday released the rankings for the March 15-29 meet at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.

News photo
Asashoryu AP PHOTO

Asashoryu heads up the east side for the first time in four meets after he completed a memorable comeback to the raised ring by beating fellow Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho in a championship playoff on the final day of the New Year basho.

Victory marked a dramatic revival in fortunes for Asashoryu, who had endured an injury-plagued six months and missed part or all of the previous three tournaments with a gammy left elbow.

Hakuho, who finished tied with Asashoryu on 14-1 in regulation, moves west for the spring tourney.

Although the Mongolians are likely to take center stage again in Osaka, Japanese hope Kisenosato will be also be in the spotlight as he makes his debut at sekiwake in the 15-day meet after an 8-7 showing from the surly 22-year-old last time out.

Elsewhere, Kotomitsuki will be fighting to save his ozeki rank for the first time having pulled out late in the New Year meet with a 2-10 mark because of a right ankle injury.

Injury-prone Kaio will be wrestling in his 94th tournament in the makuuchi division while Bulgarian Kotooshu's appearance will be his 20th at sumo's second rank of ozeki.

Goeido's excellent 10-5 showing puts him back at komusubi while Mongolian Kyokutenho rejoins sumo's fourth-highest rank for the first time since the 2006 summer basho.

Meanwhile, the west slot expected to have been filled by Wakakirin for the No.1 position in the second-tier juryo division has been left vacant after he was arrested on suspicion of possessing cannabis and subsequently fired by the JSA.



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