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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hakuho misses chance to take sole leadership

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho squandered the chance to take sole possession of the lead after suffering a shock defeat to local favorite Kotomitsuki at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament on Wednesday.

News photo
Nothing's perfect: Hakuho reacts to his first defeat at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. KYODO PHOTO

Overnight co-leader Kotooshu crashed to his first loss at the hands of fellow ozeki Chiyotaikai, but Hakuho was unable to take advantage and also saw his unbeaten streak come to an end at Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium.

Hakuho repeatedly forced his way back from the brink in an epic tussle in the day's finale, but the yokozuna eventually fizzled out and allowed Kotomitsuki to shove him over the edge and grab a share of the lead heading down the final stretch of the 15-day meet.

Hakuho, Kotooshu and Kotomitsuki all have 10-1 records while Asashoryu's title hopes took another blow after he was sentenced to a third defeat, veteran ozeki Kaio (6-5) sending the yokozuna packing with well-worked armlock throw. Aminishiki is one win back at 9-2.

Kotooshu's winning run ended in somewhat tame fashion as Chiyotaikai (6-5) stunned the Bulgarian pin-up with a pair of thrusts and slapped him down to the clay surface.

Harumafuji (8-3) looked to be on his way to a fourth defeat against Baruto (7-4) but regained his balance to barge the Estonian giant over the straw ridge.

Harumafuji won his first career title at the summer meet and came into the tournament chasing promotion to yokozuna. However, three defeats killed off the Mongolian's chances of joining countrymen Hakuho and Asashoryu at sumo's ultimate rank.

In other bouts in the upper echelons of the elite makuuchi division, komusubi Kotoshogiku picked up a fifth win at the expense of sekiwake Kisenosato, who was crushed out to a fourth defeat.

Sekiwake debutant Kakuryu slapped down top-ranked Goeido with minimal fuss to improve to 4-7. Goeido dropped to 3-8.

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