Yui Susaki at the 2017 World Championships (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
As of today, we under 50 days from the start of wrestling at the Olympic Games. Over the next 50 days, we'll bring you one profile per day of a decorated international contender. Make sure you get to know the wrestlers that Team USA will compete against in Tokyo.
7/1/21 - Amir Zare (Iran)
6/28/21 - Zavur Uguev (Russia)
6/27/21 - Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine)
6/26/21 - Sergey Kozyrev (Russia)
6/24/21 - Kenchiro Fumita (Japan)
6/23/21 - Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov (Belarus)
6/22/21 - Erica Wiebe (Canada)
6/21/21 - Myles Amine (San Marino)
6/20/21 - Sofia Mattsson (Sweden)
6/19/21 - Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)
6/18/21 - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
6/17/21 - Takuro Otoguro (Japan)
6/16/21 - Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia)
6/15/21 - Koumba Larroque (France)
6/14/21 - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
6/13/21 - Ningning Rong (China)
6/12/21 - Bajrang Punia (India)
6/11/21 - Frank Staebler (Germany)
6/10/21 - Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)
For the first time in this series, we'll profile a member of Japan's women's freestyle team, 50 kg superstar Yui Susaki. Although she is only 22, Susaki is already a two-time Senior world champion. She also has two Junior world gold medals and three at the Cadet level. Susaki has not only won at a young age, but also dominated the competition.
Since women's wrestling has been a part of the Olympics, Japan has been a force, particularly at the opening weight. Susaki is attempting to become the third straight Japanese woman to win gold at the lowest weight class. She'll have the added pressure/excitement that goes along with wrestling in front of her home country, as well. So get to know one of the favorites of the 50 kg weight class, a competitor that has yet to suffer a loss to foreign competition.
Key Wins: Whitney Conder (2019 World Cup), Oksana Livach (2018 World Championships; Semifinals), Yuki Irie (2018 All-Japan Invitational; Finals), Mariya Stadnik (2018 Klippan Lady Open; Finals), Emilia Vuc (2018 World Championships; Round of 16, 2017 World Championships; Finals), Victoria Anthony (2018 Klippan Lady Open; Quarterfinals, 2017 World Cup, 2017 World Championships; Quarterfinals), Son-Hyang Kim (2017 World Championships; Semifinals, 2017 Asian Championships; Finals), Yanan Sun (2019 World Cup, 2017 World Cup, 2017 Asian Championships; Quarterfinals), Maria Tiumerekova (2016 Cadet World Championships; Finals), Macey Kilty (2016 Cadet World Championships; Semifinals), Alleida Martinez (2015 Cadet World Championships; Final), Veronika Gurskaya (2014 Cadet World Championships; Round of 16)
The Cadet Years (2014-16)
Right after her 15th birthday, Susaki entered her first international competition, the 2014 Cadet World Championships. Susaki tore through the field and proved that she had the goods to become the next big thing in Japanese women's wrestling. Since the Japanese may not compete as frequently as other international competitors, we do not have as much background information on her.
A year later, Susaki duplicated that feat and went back-to-back as a Cadet World Champion. Susaki achieved her world title without surrendering a single point in any of her four matches. The finals match would prove to be a sign of things to come. For the first time, and unfortunately, not the last, Susaki dominated an American opponent. In the gold medal bout, she disposed of Alleida Martinez for a 10-0 tech.
Susaki's final year of Cadet eligibility was similar to her first two. For the third consecutive year, Susaki moved up in weight (43 kg to 46 to 49), but still managed to win gold in dominating fashion. Again, she went unscored upon by the best Cadets in the world. Like 2015, Susaki faced off with a prominent American foe (Macey Kilty), this time in the semifinals. Kilty trailed 8-0 when Susaki won by fall. The Japanese superstar clinched a third gold medal when she tech Maria Tiumerekova 10-0 in the finals.
The Present (2017-21)
Despite being a few months removed from Cadet competition, Susaki jumped right into Senior-level events in 2017 and never missed a beat. In the first two months of 2017, Susaki captured titles at the Ivan Yarygin and Klippan Lady Open. Despite neither event having returning world medalists at her 48 kg weight class, Susaki picked up wins over a bunch of seasoned opponents and proved she belonged despite having yet to turn 18.
The 2017 Asian Championships were the spot where Susaki clashed with some decorated foes and showed that she may be a world title threat immediately. In the quarterfinals, Susaki defeated Yanan Sun of China, who had already appeared in two world finals (2012 - 2nd; 2013 - 1st) and was an Olympic bronze medalist in Rio. For the Asian title, Susaki downed 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medalist Son-Hyang Kim of North Korea.
The perfect record in 2017 helped Susaki get the nod for Japan at the 2017 World Championships. Once again, Susaki would face the American entry, this time, it was Victoria Anthony in the quarterfinals. Anthony was the third straight victim of Susaki via tech fall. Her 5-2 semifinal win over Kim proved to be her only bout that went the entire six minutes. Susaki earned the title world champion after a 14-4 tech fall over 2016 Olympian Alina Vuc (Romania). Just a couple of months after her 18th birthday, Susaki had outscored the field 53-8 to win a world championship.
Also in 2017, Susaki made an appearance at the World Cup. She went unbeaten and logged wins over Sun and Anthony while helping Japan to a team title.
In December, Susaki entered the Emperor's Cup and was set to clash with 2016 Olympic gold medalist Eri Tosaka. The matchup never happened because Susaki was upset earlier in the tournament by Yuki Irie.
For the second straight year, Susaki traveled to Sweden and left with a gold medal at the Klippan Lady Open. This time she defeated heavily decorated Mariya Stadnik (Azerbaijan) to claim her title.
Since Susaki was still so young, she decided to enter the Junior World Championships in September. Another accomplishment was checked off her list as she earned another gold medal in Trnava.
The 2018 Senior World Championships started the way the 2017 tournament ended, with Susaki facing Romanian Alina Vuc. This time Vuc was not able to mount any sort of offense and was pinned. The semifinals saw Susaki dismantle Oksana Livach (Ukraine), who has since developed into a medal contender for Tokyo. To win world title number two, Susaki would have to get by Stadnik again. This proved to be easier than one may imagine and Susaki dominated the then-eight-time World/Olympic medalist for a 10-0 tech. During this world title run, Susaki went unscored upon and outdistanced herself from the competition, 31-0, not including a fall.
Because of Japan's depth, even though Susaki was a two-time world champion and had never been defeated by an international competitor, she still needed to fight to get on the 2019 world team. Standing in her way was Irie, the opponent that beat her in 2017. During Japan's multiple-event wrestle-offs, Irie scored two more wins over Susaki and was given a spot on the 2019 world team.
That loss sent Susaki to the Junior World Championships, which she won for the second time.
At the World Championships, Irie ended up losing in a 13-12 shootout to Sun, who in turn fell in her next bout. That eliminated Irie from the tournament and left Japan without an automatic qualifying spot in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Susaki did not compete internationally in 2020, but was given an opportunity to lock up a spot for Japan in the Olympics as their representative at the Asian Olympic Games Qualifier. Four matches and a 41-0 margin later, Susaki was crowned champion at the 50 kg weight class and qualified for the Games.
Susaki will be a heavy favorite in Tokyo and still hasn't suffered a defeat to anyone outside of Japan.