Ja­pan eye 30-gold haul at Tokyo 2020

New Straits Times - - Sport -

TOKYO: A se­nior Ja­panese Olympic of­fi­cial has called on the host coun­try’s ath­letes to win a na­tional-record 30 gold medals at the 2020 Sum­mer Games, lo­cal me­dia re­ported yes­ter­day.

Ja­panese Olympic Com­mit­tee (JOC) sports com­mit­tee chair­man Ya­suhiro Ya­mashita backed home-grown com­peti­tors to more than dou­ble their haul of 12 golds at last year’s Rio Olympics, where Ja­pan fin­ished sixth in the medal ta­ble.

“I reckon we can aim to get 2.5 times the amount we did in Rio,” the former Olympic judo cham­pion told lo­cal me­dia, point­ing to Ja­pan’s re­cent success in gym­nas­tics, ta­ble ten­nis and bad­minton.

“That’s just my per­sonal opinion, not that of the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee,” added the 60-year-old Ya­mashita, who was Ja­pan’s deputy chef de mis­sion in Brazil.

“We will col­lect the rel­e­vant data and de­cide (the of­fi­cial tar­get) hope­fully by next sum­mer.”

Ya­mashita, who won judo gold at the 1984 Los An­ge­les Olympics, also raised the hope that the host nation’s track ath­letes could de­liver a sur­prise af­ter a Ja­panese sprinter, Yoshi­hide Kiryu, fi­nally broke the 10sec­ond bar­rier last month af­ter years of try­ing.

Ja­pan’s previous best ef­fort in terms of gold medals was as host of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and at the 2004 Athens Games, when they won 16.

Thirty golds would have put them above sec­ond-placed Bri­tain’s 27 in Rio, but still a long way be­hind the ta­ble-top­ping United States, who cap­tured 46.

Ya­mashita was also bullish about Ja­pan’s chances at next year’s Win­ter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, pre­dict­ing nine medals over­all.

The coun­try’s previous best haul at a Win­ter Games was five gold medals and 10 in to­tal as host of the Nagano Olympics in 1998. AFP

Ya­suhiro Ya­mashita

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