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GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Yoshida, who has been on an unbeaten streak since December 2001, is only the main attraction in a stellar Japanese cast, including siblings Kaori and Chiharu Icho and men’s Greco-Roman wrestler Makoto Sasamoto, who are hoping for a gold medal rush at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.Japan won more women’s freestyle wrestling medals than any other nation in Athens (four), where the sport made its Olympic debut, and the country is now working overtime to tighten its grip on a dynasty.Fresh from winning her sixth national title in the women’s 55-kg class in December, Athens Olympic champion Yoshida believes winning comes natural.The Icho sisters, meanwhile, have only one goal in mind in Beijing in August: winning the gold together. Something they failed to accomplish four years ago.Also, Sasamoto, a world silver medalist, is confident he can improve on a fifth-place finish at 60 kg in Athens as he nears the end of his career.In her entire career Yoshida has never lost to a foreign competitor. But the word is out and her rivals, such as Sweden’s Ida Karlsson, have been busy training, watching videos and searching for just about any way possible to break down this juggernaut of women’s wrestling, who recently extended her winning streak to 118.Despite her magnificent run, Yoshida, 25, was given a reality check when she dropped the first period of a semifinal match against Colombia’s Jackeline Renteria at the 2007 World Wrestling Championships in Azerbaijan, before rebounding en route to her fifth consecutive title with a win in the final over Karlsson.That was the first time she had lost a period in two years.“I realized that I am also human,” Yoshida said. “That was a good experience for me. I knew I had to start all over training really hard and I knew I could become stronger.”Most of her training has focused on building strength in her lower body to ward off any attack. “Winning is something that comes natural. I just want to keep winning and go for the Olympic gold,” Yoshida said after claiming the national title.Yoshida, in all her humility, welcomes any would-be challengers. When a tape of her was being passed around by the Chinese team when she took part in an international training camp in Tokyo, she remarked, “I don’t mind if they study me. That just gets me more fired up, like there’s no way I’ll ever lose to you!”Kaori, the younger of the Icho sisters, won gold in Athens at 63 kg against American rival Sara McMann and recently captured her sixth straight national crown in dominating fashion. The 23-year-old has shown no signs of slowing and is the favorite to defend her title in Beijing against the likes of Yelena Shalygina of Kazakhstan, whom she defeated in the final at the 2007 worlds. If you looked up the word invincible in the dictionary, a photo of women’s five-time freestyle wresting world champion Saori Yoshida might very well accompany the description.Kaori Icho (right), seen grappling with Erika Matsukawa during their bout at the Wrestling National Championships at Yoyogi National Gymnasium Annex on Dec. 22, has won six consecutive national titles. KYODO PHOTO IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5
Van Nuys – An unidentified man in his late 30s was shot and killed today outside an apartment complex, police said. Police responded to a shots fired call in the 5700 block of Halbrent Avenue around 1:30 p.m. and found the man. He was transported to Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills where he later died. “We are looking for witnesses to the event,” said Los Angeles Police Department Capt. James Miller. Anybody with information can call Van Nuys detectives at (818) 374-1900. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!