Japan Shifts to Youth for Paris Olympics Following Varied Results at Asian Games

HANGZHOU, China, October 8, 2023 (BSS/AFP) – Japan is banking on its emerging talent to shine at the upcoming Paris Olympics, following a second-place finish in the Asian Games medals tally, lagging behind host nation China.

Japan clinched 52 gold medals in Hangzhou, amassing a total of 188 medals, a slightly reduced tally compared to their performance at the previous Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018. China, on the other hand, set a record with an astonishing 201 gold medals, leaving Japan far behind.

Despite this gap, chef de mission Mitsugi Ogata expressed confidence on Sunday in Japan’s youthful athletes in recently added Olympic disciplines, asserting that they can make a mark in Paris.

“One reason we are pleased with our athletes’ performance is that we secured qualifications for many events at the Paris Olympics,” he noted. “We have also witnessed outstanding displays from our young talents in skateboarding, sports climbing, table tennis, and more.”

Japan celebrated gold medals from the likes of 15-year-old skateboarder Hinano Kusaki and 16-year-old climber Sorato Anraku in Hangzhou. The highly anticipated 13-year-old Ginwoo Onodera demonstrated glimpses of his potential, although he fell short of the podium in men’s street skateboarding.

However, Japan’s traditional strongholds did not yield as many medals as in previous years. While they topped the swimming medals table ahead of China in Jakarta, they slipped to third place behind South Korea in Hangzhou, securing just five golds and a total of 30 medals in swimming.

In a sport deeply cherished by the nation, baseball, Japan also missed out on gold. Ogata acknowledged that China, with its 383 medals overall, presented formidable competition, particularly on home soil.

“When analyzing why we secured fewer medals than last time, China dominated, and India’s performance was surprisingly strong, leaving us with fewer opportunities to win medals,” he remarked.

Japan enjoyed its most successful performance ever at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics two years ago, amassing 27 gold medals and a total of 58 medals.

Kosei Inoue, the deputy chief of the Asian Games team, believes that Japan was not far from contention in several events in Hangzhou. “Upon closer examination of our results, many of our silver medalists were on the cusp of winning gold, and our bronze medalists

were close to securing silver,” he stated. “We aim to enhance this aspect at the next Olympics by providing comprehensive support to all our athletes, enabling them to upgrade their medal performances with even better displays.




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