In Text Messages, Signs of a Rigged Sumo Fight
( New York Times )

It was a sumo bout like any other: two wrestlers grappled at each other at the ring’s edge, before one sent his opponent tumbling to the dirt in a move known as the over-arm throw.

But a text message exchange between the two wrestlers the previous day suggests that the match was rigged -- part of a raft of evidence examined by the police that points to widespread match-fixing in Japan’s time-honored sport, prompting a public outcry.

Stage-managed bouts may be a staple of American professional wrestling, but sumo is Japan’s national sport, in a different league from World Wrestling Entertainment, many Japanese would say. Though allegations of match-fixing have accompanied sumo for decades, no wrestler has ever been caught orchestrating a match.

The scandal has outraged a public that considers sumo -- which traces its origins to rituals of Japan’s indigenous religion of Shinto -- a
venerable tradition. Wrestlers, their hair in samurai-style topknots, have been seen not just as athletes, but as upholders of a stoic work ethic and noble public behavior.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・bout 試合、一勝負、一時的な期間
・grapple 取っ組み合う
・tumble 倒れる、転ぶ
・raft 多量、多数
・outcry 絶叫、激しい抗議
・allegation (十分な証拠のない)申し立て、主張(動詞:allege)
・accompany 同行する、伴う

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Victory, Defeat and Fate in One Cruel Moment
( New York Times )

It is the cruelest and most contrived moment in soccer: the penalty shootout that decides which of two exhausted teams will be eliminated from the World Cup. And it must have a fall guy.

Yuichi Komano was that unfortunate individual after his Japan team was eliminated by Paraguay on Tuesday in the only shootout to date in this World Cup. Komano’s penalty kick missed by inches, striking the crossbar. Komano then had to wait as one, two, three penalty takers converted their shots. He was on his knees, head bowed, and we could tell from his quivering body that he was sobbing.

Komano, like everyone else on that field in Loftus Versfeld Stadium, had not had a great game, or a bad one. Japan and Paraguay were equal in their inability to conquer nerves, scoreless throughout 90 minutes and then 30 minutes more of extra time.

No one scored, no one dared, no one wanted to be a hero strongly enough. So the penalty lottery applied, and for once a soccer game deserved this wretched way of separating the inseparable.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・cruel 残酷な、悲惨な
・eliminate 除く、除去する
・bow 腰をかがめる、お辞儀する、(頭・首を)下げる
・quiver 小刻みに揺れる、震える
・lottery くじ引き

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Japan’s Coach, Once a Punch Line, Is Having the Last Chuckle
( New York Times )

Two months ago, a month ago, even two weeks ago, few wanted to listen to this severe man who is said to write poetry and contemplate retirement as a farmer.

He was Japan’s coach at the World Cup, but who could take Takeshi Okada seriously? Japan reach the semifinals? A team that had never won a tournament game away from home? Okada’s prediction of reaching the semifinals seemed foolish. He became a laughingstock.

And yet, Japan has surprisingly reached the second round, where it will face Paraguay on Tuesday in Pretoria. Japanese fans are no longer booing the team or calling for Okada to be fired. Instead, 40 percent of the nation is watching matches that begin at home in the middle of the night and end around sunrise.

“I thought if I targeted the title, the players wouldn’t get
serious,” Okada told reporters before the World Cup. “But if I targeted the quarterfinals, they wouldn’t get motivated.”

【 まずは準備運動 】

・contemplate じっくり考える、熟考する、じっと見つめる
・prediction 予言、予報
・laughingstock 物笑いの種
・boo (ブーと言って)野次る

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Kim Yu-na Wins Gold in Figure Skating
( New York Times )

Performing right after Kim’s monumental marks appeared, Asada tried to hold herself together, but her focus began to chip away as each note of Rachmaninoff’s “Bells of Moscow” played. One of her jumps - the triple flip - received a downgrade, meaning she failed to complete enough of the rotation. Then, as she prepared for a triple toe loop, her skate nicked the ice. She singled that jump. She had
landed two triple axels, but even those jumps, which are rare for women, could not help her.

When she was done, her face appeared blank. She and Kim had been rivals since they were junior skaters, with all their previous performances building up to these Games. Here, Asada was thought to be the only skater who could challenge Kim for the gold medal.

“I did everything I can,” Asada said. “To complete both triple axels well at the Olympics was one good thing about my performance. But I am not happy with the rest of my performance. I do feel regretful.”

【 まずは準備運動 】

・monumental 記念碑(monument)の
・previous 先の、前の、以前の
・regretful 悔やんで、残念な(名詞:regret)

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Kim Yu-na Wins Gold in Figure Skating
( New York Times )

After months of playing it cool, saying the pressure to win the
Olympic gold medal had not weighed on her, Kim Yu-na of South Korea finally let her emotion show on Thursday.

When the numbers 150.06 popped up on the scoreboard, her mouth
dropped open in delight. It was a world record, which had broken her old record by a whopping 16.11 points. Though her longtime rival Mao Asada had yet to skate, Kim had all but clinched the gold medal. She had made herself untouchable.

Wearing a royal blue dressed that fluttered in the wind, she sped atop the ice, seamlessly incorporating triple jumps into her complex routine, as if it were as natural as breathing. Her complicated footwork left gigantic, loopy scribbles all over the ice, but as she moved, she appeared to be floating. She punctuated the entire routine with a sweet smile.

At the end, the crowd leaped to its feet to celebrate her, drowning out the announcer’s every word. And Asada was the unfortunate skater who had to follow that.

【 まずは準備運動 】

・whopping とてつもなく大きな
・all but ほとんど
・clinch (ものを)締めつける、固定する
・flutter (旗・翼など)はためく、ひらひらする
・scribble 走り書き、殴り書き(する)

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