Yokozuna Kisenosato intends to compete in New Year tournament

Yokozuna Kisenosato, whose career has been threatened by a string of injuries, said Tuesday he plans to return to the raised ring at the upcoming New Year Grand Sumo Tournament next month.
Speaking to reporters at his Tagonoura stable, the 32-year-old Japan-born grand champion said he has not resumed sparring yet but is on track to recovery and putting the "finishing touches" on his preparations for a New Year comeback.
"Of course I plan to (compete). I'm getting into good shape. I hope to take care of the finishing touches and be ready by opening day," Kisenosato said.
"This year was a really frustrating year. I desperately want to make the next basho a good one and next year a good one. Now's it about regaining game instinct, getting back that level of sharpness and remembering my old form," he said.
Kisenosato is listed alongside Mongolian grand champions Kakuryu and Hakuho in the makuuchi division rankings for the Jan. 13-27 meet at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan.
The Japanese grand champion pulled out of last month's Kyushu tournament, the last of six grand tournaments held every year, citing a right knee injury after he became the first yokozuna in 87 years to get off to an 0-4 start to a tournament.
He did not take part in the winter regional tour which wrapped up Saturday.
Kisenosato, who has struggled to shake nagging injuries to his knee, ankle, and chest and arm muscles, has only completed one full tournament since becoming the 72nd grand champion in sumo history in January 2017.
After missing eight straight meets, the most ever by a yokozuna, he finished with a 10-5 record at the September tournament to temporarily fend off calls for his retirement.
Though he acknowledged his performance has been far from impressive this past year, Kisenosato said he will try not to repeat the same mistakes in 2019 and let the results speak for themselves.
"It's very important for me to achieve good results at the New Year meet. I've done what I can. I should be okay. It's looking good," he said.

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