TOKYO, Jan. 21 (Kyodo) -- Takanohana fluffed his lines once against rival yokozuna Musashimaru on Sunday, but got it right in the subsequent championship playoff to win the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament and claim his first title since autumn 1998.
wins in playoff
Unusually pumped up in the tunnel before the final regulation bout at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan, Takanohana got overanxious and lost his footing at the charge, allowing Musashimaru to push him down onto all fours and leave both wrestlers with a 14-1 record.
The chance for a perfect 15-0 mark blown, however, Takanohana recovered his concentration in time for the playoff and, quickly going to his bread-and-butter technique, locked onto Musashimaru's belt with both hands.
Musashimaru managed to break free once, but the effort proved too much as a determined Takanohana bulldozed in again and, despite giving away almost 70 kilograms in weight, muscled the Samoan-born giant back and out to secure his 21st Emperor's Cup.
"I don't know how to express how happy I am. (Before the playoff) I tried to remember the past - the things that got me to where I am now," said Takanohana, who is fourth all-time on sumo's championship list.
Mission accomplished by winning the first tourney of the new millennium, Takanohana also had a warning for his rivals.
"I'm not going to be satisfied with this victory. I'm going to continue to work hard and give it everything," the 28-year-old Futagoyama stable wrestler said.
Earlier, ozeki Miyabiyama scraped his eighth win by twisting down sekiwake Kotomitsuki (4-11), while Dejima salvaged some pride by running out Kaio (10-5) in an ozeki match-up to finish on 7-8.
Dejima will still need to improve on that at the spring tourney, however, to avoid demotion.
Ozeki Musoyama finished on a winning note as the 2000 New Year champion barged out Mongolian No. 8 maegashira Kyokutenho (10-5), while sekiwake Wakanosato twisted down seventh-ranked maegashira Kotoryu (9-6) to post double-digit wins in the 15-day meet.
Wakanosato also collected his second career Outstanding Performance Award, one of the three special prizes for makuuchi division wrestlers handed out on the final day by the Japan Sumo Association.
Komusubi Tochinonada signed off in style by throwing down No. 6 maegashira Chiyotenzan (8-7), which earned the Kasugano stable wrestler his first-ever Technique Prize and a likely promotion for the spring tourney in Osaka.
Mongolian Kyokushuzan provided little resistance for No. 12 maegashira Takatoriki, who easily shoved his 10th-ranked opponent out to leave both wrestlers with a 8-7 record.
Twelfth-ranked maegashira Asashoryu, the latest Mongolian arrival in sumo's "Premier League," failed to make double digits in wins as he was squashed to the dirt surface by No. 3 maegashira Wakanoyama as both men finished at 9-6.
ResultsResults of main bouts on final day of New Year sumo
TOKYO, Jan. 21 (Kyodo) - Results of makuuchi division bouts Sunday, the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo (+ denotes juryo division wrestler):
Won -- Technique -- Lost
+Aminishiki 9-6 -- oshidashi -- Wakakosho 6-9
Minatofuji 6-9 -- oshidashi -- Kinkaiyama 6-9
Takatoriki 8-7 -- oshidashi -- Kyokushuzan 8-7
Daishi 7-8 -- hikiotoshi -- Higonoumi 7-8
Tamakasuga 7-8 -- hatakikomi -- Asanowaka 8-7
Akinoshima 7-8 -- yorikiri -- Tamarikido 6-9
Tokitsuumi 8-7 -- kimetaoshi -- Kaiho 4-11
Wakanoyama 9-6 -- oshitaoshi -- Asashoryu 9-6
Hamanoshima 6-9 -- yorikiri -- Kotonowaka 5-10
Tosanoumi 6-9 -- uwatenage -- Tochisakae 4-11
Tochiazuma 10-5 -- yorikiri -- Takanonami 6-9
Tochinonada 9-6 -- uwatenage -- Chiyotenzan 8-7
Tochinohana 4-11 -- yorikiri -- Takanowaka 4-11
Wakanosato 10-5 -- kotenage -- Kotoryu 9-6
Musoyama 9-6 -- oshidashi -- Kyokutenho 10-5
Miyabiyama 8-7 -- makiotoshi -- Kotomitsuki 4-11
Dejima 7-8 -- yorikiri -- Kaio 10-5
Musashimaru 14-1 -- okuritaoshi -- Takanohana 14-1
Takanohana -- yorikiri -- Musashimaru
Juryo DivisionTamanonada (12-3) Kuniazuma (7-8)
Hoshitango (3-4) Ushiomaru
Wakatenro Kyokutenzan (4-3)
Fujinokuni Ryuo (4-3)
Hakuba beat Niioka to win jonidan title
Doto Daibanjaku (3-4)
Kitakasuga (3-4) Kujinosato
Wakafubuki Orora (3-4)
Imanishi Daionji (5-2)
Hoshizakura (5-2) Nagai
Yuzawa Koryu (3-4)
(Junior division wrestlers have only seven bouts during the tournament. Records of foreign wrestlers' opponents were not available.)
Division winnersMakuuchi - Takanohana, Futagoyama stable, 14-1 (winner in playoff)
Juryo - Tamanonada, Kataonami stable, 12-3
Makushita - Harunoyama, Matsugane stable, 7-0
Sandanme - Fukkoyama, Dewanoumi stable, 7-0 (winner in playoff)
Jonidan - Hakuba, Michinoku stable 7-0 (winner in playoff)
Jonokuchi - Tamatsurugi, Tamanoi stable, 6-1 (winner in playoff)
(Note: Wrestlers in sumo's four junior divisions compete in only seven bouts per tournament.)
Special awards for makuuchi division wrestlers
Outstanding Performance Award - Wakanosato, Naruto stable (2nd)
Technique Prize - Tochinonada, Kasugano stable (1st),
Fighting Spirit Prize - Wakanoyama, Musashigawa stable (1st)
For more sumo information online, try:
Da Kine Sumo E-zine
Kyodo News Service