Japanese men’s hockey captain Manabu Yamashita says he “cannot wait” for next year’s Olympic Games. Yamashita made his comments after Japan’s 52-year wait for the men’s team to again feature at the Olympics was extended by 12 months following the postponement of Tokyo Olympic until 2021. Japan’s men made their last Olympic appearance in 1968, but qualified as hosts this time around.
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“I am very excited and I cannot wait for the Olympic 2020 Games to take place in my country,” Yamashita said, speaking to the International Hockey Federation’s YouTube channel.
I feel extremely lucky. I will be very proud to be representing my country and singing the national anthem on the pitch. Japan produced a big upset two years ago to win gold in men’s hockey at the 2018 Asian Games – while the country’s women’s team also left Indonesia with a gold medal.
The men edged past Malaysia in the final via a shootout, having beaten Pakistan in the semi-finals and finished behind India in their group. It was the team’s first Asian Games medal since 1970 and arguably the greatest achievement in its history, with only Olympic silver in 1932 able to rival it.
That is the only time Japan have won a medal in five previous Olympic appearances. India will again be in Japan’s group at Tokyo Olympic joined by Spain, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia. Currently 15th in the world rankings, Japan are set to be the lowest-ranked team at the tournament.
The coronavirus pandemic – the reason for the Games’ postponement – has also had an impact on the team’s preparations, but Yamashita says they have stayed in contact throughout these testing times. We had weekly meetings where we discussed strategy, explained the 31-year-old. But we also had several online fun sessions where we did a lot of dancing and drawing. We had ad-hoc meetings and did some activities for kids.
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GB Boxing performance director Rob McCracken has praised the efforts of staff and boxers to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic while offering an upbeat of preparations for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Paralympic Games.
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Boxers who are part of Britain’s Olympic programmed were permitted to return to training last month, after reaching stage two of the return to the training process as part of Government guidelines for the resumption of sport.
Fighters were now being able to take part in technical and open sparring sessions with each other as long as strict rules are followed. Only designated groups will be able to spar while pads sessions can only take place if the boxer is wearing a face mask and the coaches have personal protective equipment.
Social distancing will be practiced during medical consultations and interactions with support staff, while coaches will only work with designated groups to minimize interaction. Boxers will continue to be screened rigorously, including temperature checks at home and a daily wellness questionnaire.
McCracken said coaches and staff had done an” amazing job” of supporting boxers during the lockdown period through the use of Zoom training sessions. He added that the atmosphere in the gym in Sheffield was fantastic upon the return to training while stressing that the coronavirus situation remains ongoing and a major disruption to plans.
McCracken said 12 months ago he had been cautiously optimistic about Britain’s boxing prospects at Tokyo Olympic, with a” talented and experienced” men’s team and a newer but talented women’s squad. The GB Boxing performance director highlighted the team’s progress over the past year.
” The men have continued to go from strength-to-strength and enjoyed more success in 2019, most particularly when the team repaid from the 2019 world championships in Moscow with three medals our best recital at that event since 2011,” McCracken supposed.
The men are a battle-hardened collection of gifted boxers. And although approximately of them were reasonably dissatisfied to have to wait for 12 more months, the fact that none of the men have been enticed to the professional positions shows they are as dedicated as ever to on behalf of Team GB in Tokyo Olympic.
The women have had a similarly positive last 12 months. We have seen some new aptitudes emerge while some of our more skilled boxers have made an important step-up and can now be careful top-class global boxers. The make-up of the five female boxers we designated for the Olympic 2020 qualifier in March 2020 exemplified this. The side featured two exciting new additions in Charley Davison and Caroline Dubois, who together went on to win their first bouts at the qualifier before it was deferred on day two owed to the coronavirus state.
GB will hope for further boxing achievement at Tokyo Olympic, after safeguarding one gold, silver and bronze at Rio 2016. Britain outdid the boxing medals table at London 2012 with three gold, one silver, and a bronze. McCracken supposed the postponement of Tokyo Olympic was a displeasure for boxers, nonetheless the additional training time for the Games could help the team at the postponed Olympics next year.
” The fact we now have an additional 12 months to work with this group of men and women is a big positive for the Olympic boxing programmed,” McCracken supposed.
At GB Boxing we are privileged to have some of the finest coaches in the world and giving our boxers additional year to develop and work with them can only benefit their growth and improve their chances of being positive in Tokyo in 2021. And as we look forward to the 2021 Olympics, I am confident that as long as our boxers continue to work hard and develop that we can deliver yet more success for Side GB when the Games finally get underway.
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