Japan in 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens

Modified on September 23, 2004


513 athletes and officials--the largest delegation sent overseas for the Olympic Games. The number of women outshines men for the first time as there are many women teams taking parts, such as hockey, basketball, volleyball, and a new women's competition for wrestling. Specifically, there're 171 women and 141 men.

* Aug 29
In men's marathon, a shocking incident occurred in the 36 kilo area. Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima who was leading the race was grabbed by a spectator. This was highlighted by the Japanese media. He finished 3rd, taking a bronze instead. Japan's Shigeru Aburaya finished 5th and Toshinari Suwa 6th which was pretty good, because expectations in Japan were not high for them to clinch a medal.

The closing ceremony was attended by Kyoko Hamaguchi as Japan's flagbearer. Judo's Kosei Inoue was there to the end too, even though he was unable to win a medal this time. And the medal winning women's wrestlers stood out in the festive mood. This has been Japan's best Olympic Games ever.

* Aug 28
Koji Murofushi, who was initially awarded the silver in the men's hammer throw has secured a gold. That's because Hungarian gold medalist Adrian Annus did not turn up at the IOC hearing and striped of his title. With this gold, Japan has clinched the most number of gold medals ever at the Olympic Games.
Michiyo's Note: He finally received the gold medal on Sept 23 in Yokohama, Japan where an international track and field event was held. Annus has not given up his gold yet, and is instead intending to sue the International Olympic Committe.

In freestyle wrestling men's 60 kilo division, Kenji Inoue, in an extended match managed to win for 3rd place.

* Aug 27
Japan's synchronized swimming team performed the preliminaries under its program called "Awaodori", that's a festival dance famous in Tokushima Prefecture. And for the finals, it performed "Samurai in Athens". Both times, Japan finished 2nd, after Russia, and clinched the silver.

In the men's freestyle wrestling 55 kilo, Chikara Tanabe managed to win the bronze medal. With this, Japan has won a medal in 13 Olympic Games in a row.

Japan's track team performed the best ever in the men's 400 meter relay and the 1600 meter relay finished 4th in both.

* Aug 25
Japan's baseball team faced Canada to compete for the bronze medal. In the first inning, Kenji Jojima slammed a 2 run homer. Japan's hitters followed suit. The game ended 11 to 2 for Japan. With this medal, Japan exceeded the total number recorded at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics of 32.

Later in the day, in synchronized swimming,in the duet, Japan's Miya Tachibana and Miwa Takeda, won the silver, just behind the Russian pair. Tachibana and Takeda performed accompanied by traditional Japanese music and chuckles under the theme Japanese doll. It's the 2nd silver for the duo.

* Aug 24
A major disappointment for Japan. The baseball team faced against Australia in the semi-final. It's the only team Japan has lost in the preliminaries. And this time, it was determined to win with its starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. But the Japan side was unable to hit in even one run and lost 0 to 1. This day, Japan for the first time did not win a medal.

* Aug 23
Japan's best medal bet's in women's wrestling--which has become an official Olympic sport for the first time in Athens this time. All Japanese women competing in 4 weight divisions are current world champions. In the 55 kilo division, Saori Yoshida won the gold. In the 63 category, Kaoru Ichio did too. But her elder sister Chiharu lost in the final match and took the silver. Popular daughter of a former pro wrestler, Kyoko Hamaguchi lost in the semi-final, which was an upset for Japan. But she managed to win the bronze.

More medals in men's gymnastics. Hiroyuki Tomita won the silver in the parallel bars. Isao Yoneda, captain of the gymnastic team clinched the bronze in the high bar. In all, Japan won 3 medals in gymnastics.

* Aug 22
In women's marathon, Mizuki Noguchi sprinted ahead of others from the 26 kilo point. She finished first clocking 1 hours 26.20 minutes, in what was considered one of the toughest marathon races ever. It's the 2nd Olympic Games in a row that Japan's woman has gained the gold medal following Naoko Takahashi who was not selected to race this time. Other Japanese running the marathon, Reiko Tosa was 5th and Naoko Sakamoto 7th.

In track and field, Koji Murofushi marked 82.91 meter in the hammer throw and won the silver. It's the first time a Japanese won a medal in this competition.

In gymnastic's men's pommel vault Takehiro Kashima won the bronze. It's his 2nd medal at this Olympic Games. And it's the first time in 28 years a Japanese won a medal in this event.

The women's softball team which was aiming for the gold finished 3rd. It lost to Australia 3 to 0 in the final tournament.

* Aug 21
It's the final day for swimming. The women's relay team finished 5th, but the men's team came in 3rd to win the bronze clocking a Japan record of 3 min 35.22 seconds. The team was made up of 3 medalists, including 2 gold medal winner in the breaststroke, Kosuke Kitajima.

In sailing 470 division race, Japan's pair won the bronze medal. They are Kenjiro Todoroki and Hitoshi Seto. It's the first time ever Japan won a medal in men's sailing.

In cycling's team sprint, Japan earned a silver medal. All 3 participants were professional cyclists.

The closely watched Japanese baseball team managed to advance to the final round defeating Taiwan in the 10th inning 4 to 3.

* Aug 20
The final day of judo was perfect for Japan. In the women's 78 plus kilo division, Maki Tsukada proved victorious. It's surprisingly, the first time Japanese women won the gold in the division. In the men's 100 plus kilo, Keiji Suzuki also clinched the gold medal.

A surprising feat by Ai Shibata in the women's 800 meter freestyle swimming. She won the gold medal clocking 8 min 24.54 sec. Also in swimming, Reiko Nakamura finished 3rd in women's 200 meter backstroke.

Japan's softball pitcher Yukiko Ueno pitched a perfect game against China. She's the first ever pitcher to achieve the feat in the Olympics. Japan beat China 2 to 0. With this win, Japan secured a place in the semi-finals.

* Aug 19
Women judoka Noriko Anno who's won 3 world championships, but never an Olympic gold tried for it for the 3rd time. And she won it in the 78 kilo division. But the disappointment was Japanese Olympic delegation captain Kose Inoue lost in the quarterfinal of the men's 100 kilo. He was an Olympic medalist at Sydney.

A pleasant surprise. In the men's archery, Hiroshi Yamamoto won the silver medal. It's the first time in 20 years a Japanese won a medal in the competition. And the medal 20 years ago was won by Yamamoto himself.

* Aug 18
Japan's medal rush continues. In the men's 200 meter breastroke, Kosuke Kitajima did it again. He broke the Olympic record clocking 2 min 9.44 to win his 2nd gold at this Olympics. He's become the first Japanese to win 2 gold. Then in a later swimming event the same day, in the women's 200 meter butterfly, Yuko Nakanishi Ueno won the bronze medal. Again in women's judo, a feat. Ueno Masae won the gold in the 70 kilo. In men's 90 kilo, Hiroshi Izumi lost in the final and finished 2nd with the silver.

* Aug 17
In women's judo 63 kilo Ayumi Tanimoto clinched the gold. In men's swimming Takashi Yamamoto in the 200 meter butterfly was 3rd at the turn. But he gradually revved himself up and won the silver medal. In baseball, the Japanese team, started by Daisuke Matsuzaka managed to defeat Cuba 6 to 3???

* Aug 16
The men's gymnastic team event was very close, wit Japan, the US, and Romania competing for the gold. Japan was the last to compete. The final routine was performed on the high bar. All gymnasts did well, to secure Japan's first place by accummulating a total 173.821 points. It's for the first time since the Montreal Olympics Games that Japan won the men's team event. At Sydney, it finished only 10th. The winners consisted of Naoya Tsukahara, Takehiro Kashima, Hiroyuki Tomita, Hisashi Mizutori and Daisuke Nakano .

In the men's 100 meter backstroke final, Tomomi Morita did not start well, but it was after he finished 50 meters he started to swim fast, and he finished 3rd to win the bronze. Reiko Nakamura was just one place short of a medal in the woman's 100 meter backstroke.

* Aug 15
A feat by 100 meter breaststroke swimmer Kosuke Kitajima. He beat world record holder Brendan Hansen to clinch the gold. It's the first time since Barcelona that a Japanese won a gold in a swimming competition.

Japan won more medals in judo. In the women's 52 kilo, Yuki Yokosawa lost in the final match but still won the silver. In the men's 66 kilo, Masato Uchishiba marked "ippon" in all his matches to clinch the gold.

Baseball, which is a dream team got to a good start. It beat Italy in a 7 inning match 12 to 0. Runs included a 2 run homer by Norihiro Nakamura. Koji Uehara pitched the shut out game. Japan's youngest Olympian this time, 15 year-old Ai Fukuhara made her Olympic debut winning 4 to 3 against Australia's Miao.

A disappointment was, Japan's men's soccer team lost to Italy 2 to 3. With 2 losses already, Japan marked its defeat in the first round.

* Aug 14
Good news for Japan already. Japan clinched its first gold medal in the women's judo. It's Ryoko Tani in the 48 kilo. She had a fractured foot but withstood the pain to defeat France's Frederique Jossenit, her rival at last year's World Championships. It's Tani's 2nd Olympic gold, and her first since she got married to baseball player Yoshitomo Tani. Her maiden name, by the way is Ryoko Tamura.

In men's judo 60 kilo, Tadahiro Nomura clinched the Olympic gold for the 3rd time in a row. It's a feat no Japanese has ever achieved. His gold is for Japan, 100th overall.

A disappointment for Japan in women's softball. It lost to Australia 2 to 4. Japan expects to win a gold in softball this time, after finishing with a silver in Sydney. Another dismay was the women's soccer team's 0 to 1 loss to Nigeria.

Opening Ceremony Aug 13
Japan's flagbearer was Kyoko Hamaguchi, current world champion of women's wrestling 72 kilo. The delegation wore uniforms designed by Kenzo.

* Aug 12
The Japanese men played soccer against Paraguay. 5 minutes into the game, Paraguay goaled. Japan's Shinji Ono succeeded in 2 penalty kicks. But the match ended 3 to 4. Japan lost.

* Aug 11
Japan's women soccer team played the preliminary round before the official opening of the Olympics. It faced number 4 ranking Sweden which also was the runner up in last year's women's World Cup. It was in the 24th minute, Japan's Eriko Arakawa goaled. Japan won 1 to 0.
Japan in Group E
Aug 11 vs. Sweden
Aug 14 vs. Nigeria