The London Summer Olympics will be held from July 27 to Aug. 12, 2012. Although most people in Japan will focus on the women’s soccer/football team (Nadeshiko Japan), we shouldn’t forget our Olympic athletes from Shiga Prefecture as follows:
ABIKO Tomomi, Women’s pole vault 棒高跳び 我孫子 智美
Native of Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture. Started pole vaulting from high school and won college and national championships. She set a new Japanese pole vaulting record of 4.4 meters this past June. She belongs to the Shiga Lakestars (mainly a pro basketball team) and trains at the high school she attended in Kusatsu.
INUI Yukiko, Duet synchronized swimming シンクロ・デュエット 乾 友紀子
Inui Yukiko is a Omi-Hachiman native who started synchronized swimming from the 1st grade. Graduated from Omi Kyodaisha High School in Omi-Hachiman and she is currently a senior at Ritsumeikan University. Together with her duet partner KOBAYASHI Chisa (小林千紗), she won the national championship for duet synchronized swimming in 2009 and placed 3rd in the World Cup in 2010. The pair will be competing together in London.
KAKIIWA Reika, Badminton バドミントン 垣岩 令佳
Native of Otsu and played badminton since childhood. While in junior high school in Otsu, she won the national championship for badminton singles. Attended high school in Aomori Prefecture when she won the national high school championship (Inter-High School Championship) in badminton doubles. She belongs to the Renesas Badminton Club based in Kyushu and Yamaguchi. Three other members of this club will also be joining Kakiiwa in London. Her doubles teammate will be FUJII Mizuki (藤井瑞希). Renesas is a semiconductor company.
OTA Yuki, Fencing フェンシング 太田 雄貴
Hailing from Otsu, Ota won the national fencing championship while in elementary school and junior high. He went on win the national high school championships (Inter-High School Championship) three years in a row. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he became the first Japanese to make it to the finals in fencing and brought home a silver medal. Obviously, he’s aiming for the gold this time.
Toray Arrows, Women’s volleyball: 女子バレーボール ARAKI Erika, KIMURA Saori, SAKODA Saori, NAKAMICHI Hitomi – 荒木絵里香、木村沙織、迫田さおり、中道瞳
Four members of the Otsu-based Toray Arrows women’s volleyball team will be in London. One of them, Nakamichi Hitomi, went to junior high school in Kora, Shiga Prefecture. The Toray Arrows belong to the V.Premier League, Japan’s top volleyball league, and have recently won four league championships. The team is owned by Toray Industries, a major textile maker with factories in Shiga. The team captain is Araki Erika, and home court is Toray Arena in Otsu. (Click on the names above to see their profiles.)
YAMAMOTO Ryo, Men’s marathon 男子マラソン 山本 亮
Although not a Shiga native, Yamamoto Ryo trains in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture. Originally from Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Yamamoto qualified for the London Olympics by being the top Japanese finisher at the Biwako Mainichi Marathon held in March earlier this year. He is proud to represent Shiga as well as Japan.
GOOD LUCK to all the athletes in London!!
List of Olympians from Shiga in Japanese: http://www.pref.shiga.jp/feature/12_7/feature04/index.html