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DREAMING OF GOLD:
Japan Gears Up for Olympic Comeback
August 17, 2000
The opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympics--scheduled to take place on September 15, 2000--may mark the start of a sporting comeback for Japan. In 1996 Japan suffered a crushing defeat at the Atlanta Olympics, collecting only three gold medals. But with 260 Japanese athletes set to compete at the Sydney Olympics, the nation's sights are set higher this time. Japan's goal is to mark the first Olympics of the millennium by winning eight gold medals.
Expectations are also mounting for a gold medal in the women's marathon. The Japanese contenders, said to be the world's strongest trio, are Naoko Takahashi, Ari Ichihashi, and Eri Yamaguchi. All three will compete in the grueling 42.2-km (26-mile) race through downtown Sydney.
Also attracting attention is the women's swim team, which is in better shape than ever before. The team boasts three world-class backstroke specialists--Mai Nakamura in the 100-meter and Miki Nakao and Tomoko Hagiwara both in the 200-meter. Masami Tanaka, meanwhile, is fighting for world records she has already come close to breaking in the women's 100- and 200-meter breast stroke.
But dreams of gold do not end here. Japan has a chance of winning medals in synchronized swimming, both duet and team. The Japanese team has won bronze medals at four consecutive Olympics. Now, with Miya Tachibana heading a strong team, their ambition is to go one better and take home a silver.
A Bifurcated Baseball Team
Other crucial players for Japan include Reika Utsugi, a naturalized citizen from China who will play for the women's softball team, and gymnast Naoya Tsukahara, following in the footsteps of his father, Mitsuo Tsukahara, who was famous for his "moonsault." Finally, Yoko Inada, a pistol shooter, and Yukie Nakayama, who will take aim in the double trap event, both have the potential to win medals in women's shooting.
Then, too, there is always a chance Japan will win medals in some of the new events scheduled to debut at the Sydney Olympics. These include keirin cycling, trampoline gymnastics, and women's weight lifting.
Copyright (c) 2000 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.