Over a year since his first and so far only top division title, Asanoyama finished his second basho ranked at Ozeki with a record of 10-5. After a rough 3-loss start, a mid-tournament comeback (aided by two default wins) put him in the yusho race. Unfortunately though, this was not enough to put him in serious contention for his second title.
“It was a really disappointing result, so I don’t care to look back and recall it. It was an incredibly frustrating result,” said Asanoyama, clearly not satisfied with anything but his best performance. Also disappointed that he could not act as a brick wall to the up and comer Shodai, “It’s regrettable that Shodai made Ozeki (and I couldn’t be the one to stop him),” he commented.
The two faced each other on day 14, Shodai getting the better of the tachiai and following up with a stiff arm to Asanoyama’s throat for the oshitaoshi win. This sent the Takasago wrestler tumbling off the clay mound in embarrassing fashion, and took him out of the title race.
“It’s been a while since I was overwhelmed at the tachiai. And the way I lost was horrible,” said Asanoyama, left with a bad taste in his mouth for his new, evenly-matched Ozeki rival. On the flip side, “It’s good for sumo and adds some excitement,” referring to three Ozeki going into next month’s basho. The situation proves motivating for him as well. “It makes me not want to lose. I have to be the one to rise to the top. That’s the way I always need to feel.”
Training resumed back home at Takasago-beya on Monday morning after a one week post-basho rest break. Present were reporters, who attentively watched the famous stable’s star pupil work out. Afterward the session, Asanoyama gave his thoughts on how preparations are going for November.
“I’m not doing anything differently in particular, but I rested well,” he said. Asanoyama’s return to practice consisted of light fundamentals like shiko, basic footwork, and pole striking exercises, instead of sparring and charging practice.
Perhaps a lot of Asanoyama’s motivation for a second title comes from the fact that his stablemaster, Takasago-oyakata reaches the mandatory age of retirement for sumo association elders after the next tournament.
“I want to win a yusho first before he reaches retirement age. I’ll still be making my way to Yokozuna, but it would be good for the whole stable to see him off with good results in November, not just me. And I want to remember my master’s teachings and take them into November’s matches with me.”
Source: Nikkan Sports
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