BEIJING – World bronze medalist Fumie Suguri led a Japanese monopoly of the top three places after the women’s short program of the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday.Suguri turned in a flawless performance as she got off to a strong start in her campaign to go one better than her runnerup finish last week at the Winter Asian Games. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Shizuka Arakawa, who won the Winter Asian Games gold as the replacement for injured Yoshie Onda, was equally impressive and placed second behind Suguri while Yukari Nakano followed in third. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
All articles by admin
Sir Clive Woodward famously said during England’s successful Rugby World Cup campaign, “We’re not here to be Torville and Dean, we’re here to win.”And so it was for Toshiba Brave Lupus, which won the 41st Japan Rugby Football Championship at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Sunday, beating the Kobe Kobelco Steelers 22-10. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 “It’s been a long season,” said Toshiba captain Teppei Tomioka after the game, poignantly wearing a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Never surrender.” “But after finishing runnerup in the Top League and the Microsoft Cup we were still motivated and believed we could win today.”The game, between the top two teams in the Top League, was always going to be a tight one, with the defensive lines dominating and with both sides hoping to force the other into a mistake. There was probably more kicking in this game than in an entire season in the old company leagues though much of it was poorly directed and executed as the players seemed to struggle with the swirling wind.In the end the game came down to Toshiba making the use of the opportunities that came its way and its three tries were mainly down to the individual brilliance of Goshi Tachikawa (who followed up his own chip ahead to touch down in the sixth minute); Daisuke Mori (who showed a great change of pace and direction to score from 55 meters out in the 52nd minute); and Hidetaka Shinagawa (who was on hand to take a pass from Tsutomu Matsuda to seal the game in the 79th minute).The Steelers managed a try of their own through Daisuke Ohata but an inability to control the ball in contact situations was to prove their undoing.“We didn’t get any quick second or third phase ball,” said Andy Miller, who was playing his final game in Japan after six years with the Kobe team. We needed to be more patient, but we just didnt fire today.”The win was Toshiba’s fourth in the competition and reward for the innovative style of play that coach Masahiro Kunda, who was a player in the previous three championship-winning teams, has introduced to the team — the former hookers’ efforts being recognized by the Japan Rugby Football Union with the coaching job of Japan A when it tours New Zealand in April.The result also means the Steelers were unable to see off head coach Mitsutake Hagimoto in style after his appointment as head coach of the national team was confirmed by the JRFU.It also ensures that Japan rugby has three champions in Kobe (Top League), the NEC Green Rockets (Microsoft Cup) and Toshiba. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Naoko Takahashi will be out to avenge her loss to Ethiopia’s Elfenesh Alemu when she runs in her first competitive full marathon in two years at this month’s Tokyo International Women’s Marathon.Naoko Takahashi IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Organizers on Tuesday named Sydney Olympic champion Takahashi and 2003 winner Alemu among 16 invitees who will take part in the race that starts and finishes at National Stadium on Nov. 20.Takahashi became the first Japanese woman to win an Olympic marathon gold medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney but could not defend her title in Athens last year after being dropped in the selection process.The setback resulted from loss to Alemu in the 2003 Tokyo marathon, which served as one of the qualifying races for Japanese runners for the race in Athens.Her time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, 21 seconds failed to convince Japanese athletics officials, and compatriot Mizuki Noguchi won the gold in Greece in her absence.“Looking back, I hadn’t run for a while before that race (the 2003 Tokyo marathon) and I think I was tense and my mind just went blank,” Takahashi said in a statement. “I haven’t really given any thought to race tactics and this time I am going to relax.”
RIFU, Miyagi Pref. – U.S. tour rookie Ai Miyazato capitalized on a late collapse by Shiho Oyama to complete a winning double on her return to Japan with victory at the Miyagi TV Cup Dunlop Ladies Open on Sunday.Miyazato, who made history by winning the Japan LPGA Championship on her first appearance of the year on home soil earlier this month, carded a 1-under-par 71 in the final round at Rifu Golf Club to beat Oyama by three shots. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES Teeing off two shots behind Takayo Bando, the 21-year-old Miyazato birdied her first two holes but made bogeys on the ninth and 13th holes and trailed Oyama by two shots at the 13th after the Japanese tour money leader picked up four strokes on a bogey-free front nine.But Oyama missed a short par putt for bogey on the 14th and allowed Miyazato to grab a share of the lead after she birdied the same hole. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5
BARCELONA, Spain (Kyodo) Hanae Ito won the women’s 200-meter backstroke on the final day of the European Grand Prix meet in Barcelona on Wednesday.Ito emerged victorious in 2 minutes, 9.17 seconds, far behind her personal-best time of 2:8.80 she set in Speedo’s LZR Racer suit to win the same race at the Seven Hills meet in Rome on Sunday. Ito, one of Japan’s medal hopefuls in the Beijing Olympics, finished fourth in the 50 backstroke in 28.76.In men’s action, Tomomi Morita could only manage sixth place in the 100 backstroke in 55.53 while Hisayoshi Sato placed fifth in the 100 butterfly in 53.62. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5
GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES BANGKOK (Kyodo) The International Judo Federation will introduce a rankings system at the beginning of next year and use it for the qualification of athletes for major competitions, judo officials said Monday.The IJF executive committee has decided to give points to men’s and women’s judoka in all weight classes depending on their results in international tournaments, including the Olympic Games and world championships which are both ranked in the top tier under the new system. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Around 20 judoka in each category are expected to earn spots in the 2012 Olympics on the basis of the new rankings. Traditionally, results at the world championships and regional qualifying events have been taken into account in the selection of athletes for Olympic Games.
Tatsuma Ito pulled out a five-set victory over Treat Huey on Friday as Japan won both of its opening-day singles matches against the Philippines in the first round of Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group 1.Ito won the three-hour battle 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 before two-time national champion Go Soeda defeated Cecil Mamiit 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 at Namihaya Dome. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 Toshihide Matsui and Takao Suzuki will try to wrap up the best-of-five series in Saturday’s doubles against Francis Casey Alcantara and Johnny Arcilla. The reverse singles will be played Sunday.
Swagger: Daisuke Takahashi has come back in a big way from career-threatening knee surgery in late 2008. | KYODO PHOTO GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES RELATED PHOTOS IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 It’s not often in life that you get a second chance after squandering a golden opportunity.For Daisuke Takahashi, the bronze medalist at the Vancouver Games, it comes this week at the world championships in Turin, Italy. Two years ago, in Goteborg, Sweden, the Okayama native was the No. 1-ranked skater on the planet and the favorite to win his first world title. But problems with his boots and a lack of poise under pressure conspired to see Takahashi somehow not even make the podium (he finished fourth).Takahashi didn’t know it, but this was just the beginning of his problems. Within weeks he had left coach Nikolai Morozov, who guided him to the silver medal at the 2007 worlds, and moved back to Japan.Then true disaster struck when the Kansai University student tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus cartilage in his right knee during a jump in practice in October of 2008.Takahashi underwent surgery the next month to repair the damage and missed the entire 2008-09 season while rehabilitating.Nobody ever wants to endure an injury like that, but especially not just 16 months before the Olympic Games.To his credit, Takahashi worked through excruciating pain to get himself back in shape and ready to skate.When he placed fourth at the NHK Trophy in Nagano last November, Takahashi was clearly still lacking the stamina that comes with real competition. But more practice and perseverance saw him take second place at Skate Canada and qualify for the Grand Prix Final.Though he finished a disappointing fifth at the GP Final in Tokyo, it provided him with more valuable game action. Three weeks later, he won his fourth Japan championship in Osaka. It was a good omen heading into the Olympics.But the best was yet to come.Going against the likes of reigning Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko and current world champion Evan Lysacek, Takahashi put on the performance of a lifetime and became the first man to earn an Olympic medal for Japan in figure skating.His short program to “Eye” by Coba was nothing short of sensational and received universal praise. In third place heading into the free skate, Takahashi attempted a quadruple toe loop and despite falling, held on for the historic bronze.Takahashi showed his true colors afterward, when asked why he tried the quad when he could have played it safe to protect his medal chances.“I wanted the gold,” he said. “That’s why I tried the quad.”This statement said everything about this young man’s heart and courage.Many Japanese athletes have been knocked over the years for cracking under pressure or being too conservative.Takahashi, who turned 24 last week, blew a huge hole in that image and deserves to be recognized for it.He can raise the bar even higher by doing something no Japanese man ever has this week in Turin, where both Lysacek and Plushenko will not participate. Barring something unforeseen, Takahashi is a solid bet to add another prestigious tag to the “Olympic bronze medalist” that now often proceeds his name.This one says “world champion.”Compelling viewing: I recently watched the newly released Discovery Channel documentary on Vancouver Olympic gold medalist Kim Yu Na entitled “Hip Korea: Yu Na Kim — Seoul Spirit.”The 45-minute piece is a fascinating look into the world of Yu Na and what she means to the people of South Korea. It features footage of Yu Na’s climb from anonymity to the world stage and includes interviews with her mother Park Mi Hee, coach Brian Orser, choreographer David Wilson and many others.It also focuses on the continuing progress of women in South Korean society and how Yu Na symbolizes it. It is highly recommended viewing.Major impact: Kim’s victory and the medals gained by other South Korean athletes in Vancouver are expected to bring a lot more than glory and exposure to the nation, according to a recent story by Reuters.Samsung Economic Research Institute economist Lee Dong Hun estimated Asia’s fourth-largest economy would benefit by nearly $18 billion from the record haul.“The country’s splendid achievement in the 2010 Winter Games will bolster soft power, a prerequisite becoming an advanced country,” Lee wrote in a report.“After watching Kim Yu Na’s performance, Koreans may have experienced a heightened sense of self-confidence that encourages the belief that, by putting together their capabilities, Koreans can achieve anything.”Looking ahead: The dates for the 2010-11 Grand Prix season are now set. It will feature a real shakeup in how the events have traditionally fallen on the calendar.The NHK Trophy will kick off the GP season in Nagoya (Oct. 22-24) and be followed by Skate Canada (Oct. 29-31), the Cup of China (Nov. 5-7), Skate America (Nov. 12-14), the Cup of Russia (Nov. 19-21) and the Trophee Bompard (Nov. 26-28).Also worth noting is that Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture will host a Junior Grand Prix event (Sept. 22-26). With Japan boasting both world junior champions, this is a good opportunity to get a look at some of the stars of the future.
Shiho Oyama was one stroke off the pace in her return from a yearlong injury layoff, along with South Korean Lim Eun A, Rikako Morita and Yumiko Yoshida.The 2006 Japan LPGA money leader had surgery on her left elbow last December.Defending champion Shinobu Moromizato opened with a 70, leaving her tied for 12th with 11 others.Nobuko Kizawa, who captured her first career title at the Nitori Ladies last week at age 40, was a shot further back. Ishikawa slips FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO , Yamanashi Pref. (Kyodo) Defending champion Ryo Ishikawa lost his overnight lead to Han Lee on Friday, only managing an even-par 71 in the second round of the Fujisankei Classic.Ishikawa was tied with former high school golfing teammate Shunsuke Sonoda for second at 5-under 137, two behind the American at Fujizakura Country Club.Looking for his eighth career JGTO title and second of 2010, the 18-year-old star double-bogeyed the par-4 first hole and mixed five birdies with three bogeys the rest of the way.Ishikawa needed 33 putts, six more than he took in the opening round. On the par-5 third, he reached the green in two shots but four-putted for a bogey.American Lee, playing in his third year on the Japanese tour, had five birdies and two bogeys.Akio Sadakata and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand shared fourth place at 4 under after 68s.Shingo Katayama (68) and Yuta Ikeda (69) were in a seven-way tie for 11th at 2 under. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 MIZUNAMI, Gifu Pref. – Yukari Baba and Akane Iijima shot 5-under 67s to share the first-round lead at the Golf 5 Ladies on Friday.Baba made all five of her birdies on the back nine in a flawless round, while Iijima had six birdies against her lone bogey on the 18th hole at Mizunami Country Club. GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
Koki pounded the Venezuelan in the final round, narrowly missing a knockout after sending Munoz to the canvas once as his opponent was literally saved by the bell at Saitama Super Arena.“I have no words. My father was against me fighting in this bout,” said Koki. “He said, ‘The bantamweight is too soon for you, Koki.’ But today I got this result. I’d like to just say one thing to him. ‘Pop, whadya think now!’,” he said.The belt became vacant when Anselmo Moreno of Panama was elevated to “super champion” status by the World Boxing Association two months ago. Neither Koki nor Munoz had any previous experience at bantamweight.Koki captured his first world title in August 2006 with a split decision over Juan Landaeta of Venezuela in the WBA light flyweight class.He claimed his second when he defeated then-WBC flyweight champion Daisuke Naito by unanimous decision in November 2009.Meanwhile, Daiki fought well early but ran out of steam in the second half of the bout, while Olteanu continued to throw punches until the finish.Two judges favored Daiki by scores of 116-112 and 115-113, with the other judge scoring 118-110 for Olteanu. SAITAMA – Koki Kameda won a unanimous decision over Alexander Munoz of Venezuela to claim the vacant WBA bantamweight title in a world championship doubleheader Sunday, making him the first Japanese boxer to win world titles in three weight divisions.The eldest of the three Kameda boxing brothers won the decision after Daiki Kameda, the second eldest, retained his WBA flyweight belt with a split decision over 14th-ranked Romanian Silvio Olteanu. History in the making: Koki Kameda raises his arms after knocking down Alexander Munoz during the final round on Sunday. | KYODO PHOTO GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES RELATED PHOTOS IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5