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Terunofuji, Kiribayama in the Spotlight on the Eve of the Summer Basho

Coming off a prolonged absence, Terunofuji will face stiff competition from Kiribayama and several others in the 15-day Summer Basho in Tokyo.



Summer Basho
Yokozuna Terunofuji (right) prepares for the Summer Basho on May 9 at Isegahama stable in Tokyo's Koto Ward. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Terunofuji, Kiribayama in the Spotlight on the Eve of the Summer Basho

The return of grand champion Terunofuji and the meteoric rise of his Mongolian compatriot Kiribayama will be the main talking points at the Summer Basho, which kicks off on Sunday, May 14 at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.

Injury-plagued seven-time champion Terunofuji is eyeing a return to action, having missed the last four tournaments either entirely or in part.

The lone yokozuna is 31 and has had multiple surgeries on both knees.

Summer Basho
Terunofuji (KYODO)

How well he can perform at the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament given his age and past injuries is anyone's guess. When he's fit, he has proven he can dominate his opponents.

Meanwhile, Kiribayama comes into the 15-day basho on a high after winning his first championship through a playoff at the March tourney. 

Japan's national sport has now seen a different title winner for eight straight tournaments. So to say the competition is wide open is no exaggeration.

Summer Basho
Kiribayama holds the banzuke (ranking chart) for the Summer Basho at a news conference on May 1 at Ryogoku Kokugikan. (SANKEI)

Kiribayama Aims for Back-to-Back Titles

Kiribayama won 11 bouts as a komusubi during January's New Year Basho. He earned 12 victories as a new sekiwake in March. If he can record at least 10 wins in this tournament, he will garner consideration for promotion to the second-highest rank of ozeki, something that sumo officials desperately want.

It's never easy winning back-to-back titles but the 27-year-old Kiribayama is in his prime and has all the tools.

"It's an opportunity, and I'll approach it with the mindset that this chance may not come around again," Kiribayama told a news conference. "I want to post a winning record and then go for double figures."

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.

Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.

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