Five athletes in the Japanese delegation at the 2012 London Olympics are especially interesting and deserve to be closely watched at this year’s competition, according to a commentary by Yahoo Sports.
Even if Japan is not traditionally one of the strongest nations at the Olympics, the nation could really use a good performance this year as it is struggling to recover from last year’s natural disasters.
Japanese dressage rider Hiroshi Hoketsu, at age 71 will be the oldest participant at this year’s London Olympics. He competed in the 1964 Summer Games at Tokyo and finished 40th in show jumping. He is not the oldest Olympian ever, as the record belongs to Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won a silver medal in 1920, in Antwerp, Belgium, at the age of 72.
The captain of Japan’s women soccer team, Homare Sawa (photo), is the best player and a symbol of recovery for Japan. Last year, she led her team to a highly unlikely victory at the Women’s World Cup in Germany, where Japan defeated USA in the final at penalty shootouts.
Narumi Kurosu, a participant in the modern pentathlon event, managed to qualify at the Olympics despite the fact that last year’s quake and tsunami swept away her training facilities in Ibaraki. A South Korean trainer took her to the peninsula just 10 days after the disaster and she eventually earned a spot at the Olympics.
Kenki Sato, eventing, and Yuki Ota, fencing, are the other two athletes on the Japanese watch-list. The first comes from a family of athletes and has a religious background. The latter is Japan’s first medalist in fencing (silver at Beijing 2008) and will challenge China’s Lei Sheng, the defending world champion.