Japanese official counting on 30 golds in 2020

Yoshihide Kiryu (centre) in the Diamond League meet's 100m final at the Olympic Stadium in Rome last June. Last month, Kiryu was the first Japanese to record 9.98sec at an inter-collegiate meet, shaving off 0.02sec off the national record set by Koji
Yoshihide Kiryu (centre) in the Diamond League meet's 100m final at the Olympic Stadium in Rome last June. Last month, Kiryu was the first Japanese to record 9.98sec at an inter-collegiate meet, shaving off 0.02sec off the national record set by Koji Ito in 1998.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • A senior Japanese Olympic official has called on the host country's athletes to win a national-record 30 gold medals at the 2020 Summer Games.

Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) sports committee chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita backed home-grown competitors to more than double their haul of 12 golds at last year's Rio Olympics, where Japan finished sixth in the medal table.

"I reckon we can aim to get 2.5 times the amount we did in Rio," the former Olympic judo champion told local media, pointing to Japan's recent success in gymnastics, table tennis and badminton.

"That's just my personal opinion, not that of the technical committee," added the 60-year-old Yamashita, who was Japan's deputy chef de mission in Brazil.

"We will collect the relevant data and decide (the official target) hopefully by next summer."

Yamashita, who won judo gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, also raised the hope that the hosts' track athletes could deliver a surprise after a Japanese sprinter, Yoshihide Kiryu, finally broke the 10-second barrier last month after years of trying.

  • 2.5x 

    Number of times Japan's 30-gold target is over their 2016 haul of 12.

According to The Japan Times, Kiryu was the first Japanese to record 9.98sec in the 100m at an inter-collegiate meet, shaving off 0.02sec off the national record set by Koji Ito in 1998.

Japan's previous best effort in terms of gold medals was as host of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and at the 2004 Athens Games, when it won 16.

Thirty golds would have put it above second-placed Britain's 27 in Rio, but still a long way behind the table-topping United States, which captured 46.

Yamashita was also bullish about Japan's chances at next year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, predicting nine medals overall.

The country's previous best haul at a Winter Games was five gold medals and 10 in total as host of the Nagano Olympics in 1998.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Japanese official counting on 30 golds in 2020'. Print Edition | Subscribe