Winning the Emperor's Cup for the fourth time was thanks to sheer determination and a sense of responsibility as one of the sport's top-ranked wrestlers, Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament champion Takakeisho said Monday.
Takakeisho began the 15th and final day of the tournament Sunday at Ryogoku Kokugikan a win behind No. 15 maegashira Atamifuji, before the 27-year-old rallied to grab the championship in a playoff.
A loss for the rank-and-filer and a win for Takakeisho in regulation bouts set up the championship playoff and Takakeisho, somewhat controversially for such a high-ranking wrestler, slapped Atamifuji down straight away to seal it.
Takakeisho started the latest meet as demotion-threatened "kadoban" ozeki and needed at least eight wins to remain at the second-highest rank after sustaining injuries to both of his knees in July, missing the entire Nagoya meet.
He said the injury-caused absence reignited his desire to obtain the top honor while watching the action from the sidelines.
"The performances of all the wrestlers at the Nagoya meet were my source of inspiration, and I wanted to win the title anyhow," Takakeisho said after lifting the trophy for the first time in four meets.
His 11-4 result was the equal-worst for a tournament winner since the 15-day format was introduced in 1949, his being the fourth case.
It could serve as a damper to his latest accolade, coupled with the manner in which he beat 21-year-old Atamifuji in the playoff.
But Takakeisho, who was ranked highest this month alongside fellow ozeki Kirishima and Hoshoryu in the absence of injured yokozuna Terunofuji, said he had felt the onus was on him to deliver.
"I wanted to avoid getting dirt on all the senior top-ranked wrestlers, who have shown (through winning titles) the weight of the rank," Takakeisho said.
Takakeisho became the second ozeki to lift the cup straight after missing the entirety of the previous meet -- something that had only been achieved by Chiyotaikai at the 2003 Spring meet.