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Controversy as China's Xu upsets world champion

China's Xu Wang produced a major upset by ousting Japan's five-time world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi to claim a place in the final of the women's 72kg freestyle wrestling.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, Athens
PUBLISHED ON AUG 23, 2004 05:47 PM IST

China's Xu Wang produced a major upset on Monday, ousting Japan's five-time world champion Kyoko Hamaguchi to claim a place in the final of the Olympic women's 72kg freestyle wrestling.

Xu, 18, will grapple for the gold medal against Gouzel Maniourova after the Russian beat Svitlana Sayenko of the Ukraine in her semi-final bout.

The final will take place later in the day, along with the 48kg, 55kg and 63kg finals.

Xu's shock win was unexpected and not without controversy.

Hamaguchi, flag-bearer for Japan at the opening ceremony, felt Xu was unfairly awarded two points for a move which she had initiated, a decision which cost the reigning 72kg world champion a shot at the gold medal.

The 26-year-old's father and coach Heigo, a former professional wrestler, was so incensed by the referee's decision that he had to be restrained by police.

Japan's Chiharu Icho and Irini Merleni of the Ukraine will contest for the first ever Olympic gold medal in women's wrestling after they both comfortably won their 48 kg bouts.

Icho, winner of the Asian championship in Tokyo earlier this year, defeated France's Angelique Berthenet, while Merleni, the reigning 48 kg world champion, beat Patricia Miranda of the United States.

Canada's Tonya Verbeek will take on Japan's Saori Yoshida in the 55kg final.

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