Japan's Rei Higuchi settled for silver at the wrestling world championships on Monday in the men's 57-kilogram freestyle, losing the final 7-4 to Serbia's Stevan Andria Micic.

Rei Higuchi of Japan (red) competes against Stevan Andria Micic of Serbia in the men's freestyle 57-kilogram final at the world wrestling championships in the Serbian capital of Belgrade on Sept. 18, 2023. (Kyodo)

Higuchi, who won silver in the division at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and secured gold at the non-Olympic 61-kg event at last year's worlds, took a 4-2 lead early in the second period but allowed the home favorite to turn things around before missing a tackle late on.

"I couldn't nail it because I lack something, whether it be technique or mentality. It's a good defeat," Higuchi said.

The 27-year-old, battling to keep his weight under the division limit, on Sunday secured the berth to represent Japan at next year's Paris Olympics by clinching a podium finish in the Serbian capital.

"I'm hoping to come up with a performance twice as strong," Higuchi, who failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, said on the next summer's games.

Daichi Takatani booked his place in the Olympics by coming third in the men's 74-kg division, won by Zaurbek Sidakov who took part as an individual neutral athlete, while American Kyle Dake finished runner-up.

Japan's Rei Higuchi (R) and Serbian winner Stevan Andria Micic react after the men's 57-kilogram freestyle final at the wrestling world championships in Belgrade on Sept. 18, 2023. (Kyodo)

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