Japan in 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney


268 athletes, in all, 440 took part from Japan. It's the 2nd largest delegation to the Summer Games. The largest went to 1996 Atlanta. As if to celebrate the centennial of women in the Olympic Games, 13 of Japan's medals were clinched by women.

Modified on October 2, 2000

* Oct 2
A large number of athletes touched down in Japan and were welcomed by 700 fans at Narita Airport. Among the 150 delegation was Naoko Takahashi, women's marathon gold medalist, silver winning synchronized swimming team, wrestler Katsuhiko Nagata and taekwondo bronze medalist Yoriko Okamoto. On a sad note, softball's star player Juri Takayama's mother suddenly passed away the previous day. She was in Sydney to see her daughter clinch the silver medal.

* Oct 1
In the final competition of the Sydney Games, 3 Japanese took part. That's in the men's marathon. The expectation was high as in the women's Naoko Takahashi clinched the gold. But the best among the Japanese finished 21st. He's Shinji Kawashima. All in all, Japan won more medals at this Olympics than Atlanta and Barcelona.

* Sept 30
Japanese athletes participated in the finals of a variety of competitions, in high jump, rhythmic gymanstics team event, and women's 10,000 meter track race. But they did not win any medals. The best finish was Ken Terauchi in the men's 10 meter platform of a diving event. He earned 5th place. In the men's 4 X 100 meter relay, Japan's 3rd runner pulled his muscle while only half way into his race, but he pulled through and handed the baton to Nobuharu Asahara. Japan finished 6th, tying with its best performance at the Olympics. The winning team was of course, the US.

* Sept 29
Japan's synchronized swimming team portrayed the firebird in its final performance. The 8 had great teamwork. 4 of the judges gave a perfect score of 10 for its artistic impression. It finished the event just a decimal points behind Russia and gained the silver medal.

In women's taekwondo 67 kilogram event Yoriko Okamoto who had to fight in the loser's round made her way to the bronze medalist match. She was able to defeat Englishwoman Sarah Stevenson. 6 points to 5.Taekwondo is a new Olympic sport originating in Korea.

In the men's 4 X 100 meter relay, Japan was able to advance to the final marking an Asian tie record of 38.31 seconds. It's to be seen how fast Japan could go.

* Sept 28
Japan did not place high in any of the finals today, but in one event, it showed high possibility to win the best medal. In synchronized swimming's team event, Japan gave a high level performance with the image of karate mixed. It came very close to Russia which led the first day.

* Sept 27
In wrestling Greco-Roman 69 kilogram, Katsuhiko Nagata became a finalist and faced Cuba's Filiberto Azcuy. Azcuy was outrageous though. He flipped Nagata a couple of times gaining 11 points thus clinching the game before 6 minutes was up. Nagata finished second, still it was Japan's first medal in the competition since 1988 Soeul.

Japan played South Korea for the second time in baseball to decide the bronze medalist. Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out 10. But in the 8th inning, Heima's bad throw to first hurt the game, Matsuzaka in the just that inning gave up 3 runs. Japan came back with one run in the 9th, The game ended 3 to 1 to give South Korea the bronze. It's the first time since baseball became an Olympic sport that Japan failed the win a medal. Slugger Norihiro Nakamura was in tears after the game as well as catcher Suzuki.

* Sept 26
Synchronized swimmers Miho Takeda and Miya Tachibana 's legs touched accidently during the final performance to a mixture of Japanese stringed instrument and the saxophone. Still, the judges gave on the average 9.9. They finished second--that's the best ever for Japan's synchronized swimmers at an Olympic Game.

Japan's women softball team faced the US in the final game. At one point, Japan took the lead, but in the extended 8th inning, the US batted in a Olympic gold run.

In baseball, Japan, in the semi-finals faced Cuba. Tomohiro Kuroki started. The first 3 innings was fine. But then, in the 4th, a bad throw from second to first cost Japan a run. Japan in the end lost 3 to 0. It will compete for the bronze with South Korea next.

* Sept 25
In beach volleyball, Japan's Mika Saeki and Yukiko Takahashi played for 3rd place against Atlanta Olympic champion duo Sandra and Adriana of Brazil. Japan played will, but not quite enough losing 2 sets to 0. So Japan finished 4th. But that's a one notch improvement from Atlanta.

Naoya Tsukahara challenged the medal in the men's horizontal bar in gymastics. But he slipped off the bar as he was trying to perform the Coleman. He finished 8th. For the 2nd straight Olympics, Japan failed to bring home a medal in any gymnastics event.

Japan wasn't able to clinch medals this day, but it showed performances raising hope in the later half of the Olympic games. One is women's softball. Japan's Rika Utsugi who discarded her Chinese passport to play in Japan homered. And that point gave Japan a 1 to 0 win over Australia in the semi-finals. Japan will at worst will be able win a silver medal. In synchronized swimming's duet performance, Japan advanced to the final round.

* Sept 24
A gold medal for Japan! It was in one of Japan's top medal favorite event, the women's marathon. Naoko Takahashi was back in the Olympic Stadium first followed by Romania's Lidia Simon. She managed to keep her lead clocking an Olympic record of 2 hour 23.14 minutes. It's the first time a gold medal is clinched in any women's athletics for Japan. Eri Yamaguchi placed 7th, while Ari Ichihashi 15th. It's reported that after the race, Simon bought Takahashi and Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya who came in 3rd hamburgers.

Japan's baseball team played Cuba in the final game of the preliminary round. It lost 2 to 6, still, it's gained the final 4th post to proceed to the finals. It has to play Cuba again in the semi-finals.

* Sept 23
In the final day of swimming events, Japanese women made history for the country. They were a medley relay team of Mai Nakamura, Masami Tanaka, Junko Onishi and Sumika Minamoto in the 4 X 100 meters. US broke the world record. In second was Australia, and Japan by clocking 4 min 4.16 seconds clinched the bronze.

In soccer's quarterfinals, Japan faced the US. In the 29th minute, Atsushi Yanagisawa goaled. The US, however caught up in the later half. Then 4 minutes after, Naohiro Takahara kicked in Japan's 2nd goal. It seemed like the game would come to an end. But one minute before time was up, Japan gave the US a penalty kick. The US succeeded in a goal. The game went into sudden death, and then to PK. Hidetoshi Nakata who was the 4th to kick hit the poll. The PK resulted in a 5 to 4. The US proceeded to the semi-finals.

In other sports, in baseball, Japan lost to South Korea 6 to 7 in the 10th inning. Japan took its 2nd loss in the preliminary round. However, Japan's advancement was to the finals was secured. .

* Sept 22
In swimming, Japan's Atlanta Olympic swimmer Miki Nakao for the first time clinched a medal. She came in 3rd in the women's 200 meter backstroke. Tomoko Hagiwara was 4th. For the first time at the Olympics, Japan has won more than 2 medals in the women's swimming.

Good news and disappointment in judo. For Mayumi Yamashita winning the bronze in the women's over 78 kilo was a feat because she was not among the top medal hope. However, a vague mistake was committed in the men's over 100 kilo class final. Shinichi Shinohara gave a throw that looked like an ippon in the final. At least, one of the refrees gestured that it was, and Japanese judo experts judged so, but if not at least a point or 2 for Shinohara. But the main refree actually gave his opponent, France's David Douillet the point. Japan's head coach Yasuhiro Yamashita complained to the judges and international federation member. One official did not deny that the judgement was a mistake. But since the match was done and the judges off the tatami mat, the decision could not be reversed. Japan is expected to make an official appeal against the misjudgement.

In other sports, the baseball team won again. This time it defeated South Africa 8 to 0. Softball again played a competitive game going into extra innings. But Japan won 6 to 0 against Italy. In rowing, Daisaku Takeda and Hitoshi Hase for the first time in the history of the Olympics took Japan to the final.

* Sept 21
22-year old Kosei Inoue proceeded to the final in the men's 100 kilo class in judo. He beat Canada's Nicholas Gill with an "uchimata" ippon. He clinched Japan's 4th gold medal. During the award ceremony, he held on to his mother's picture as if to show her that Japan's national flag is hoisted for her. She died last year. Inoue was Japan's flagbearer during the opening ceremony.

Japan's softball team again won. It was a competitive game against Canada which went into extra innings, but Japan in the end won 4 to 3. The victory secured Japan at least a bronze medal.

* Sept 20
It's the first time a day went by without a medal for Japan. That's in neither in the women's nor men's judo. In gymnastics men's individual overall event, Japan's medal hope Naoya Tsukahara missed in the floor exercise, and slipped off the pommel horse. He finished 18th.

Signs of prospect were seen in team sports again. In baseball, Japan defeat Italy 6 to 1. In women's softball, Japan has extended its winning streak to 4 in a 1 to 0 game over Australia. And the highest rating went to soccer. . Japan played Brazil at Brisbane Cricket Ground attracting 36,000 spectators. It was the game to determine which teams will go to the final tournament. The contest in Group D was between 3 teams--Japan, Brazil and South Africa. Whatever Japan's result, if South Africa lost to Slovakia, it could proceed. Slovakia answered the prayer of Japanese fans by defeating South Africa 2 to 1and even though Japan lost to Brazil 0 to 1 it for the first time in 32 years has won a place in the final tournament.

* Sept 19
Judoka Makoto Takimoto clinched the gold medal. It was in the men's 81 kilo. It came as a surprise because he was the last one selected to the Olympics from judo. It's his first Olympics. In the final, he faced S.Korea's Cho In-Chul. It was a tough fight but Takimoto earned a yusei-gachi. Takimoto roared with joy. He was the one of the least highlighted judoka for the medal.

Good performances were seen in team sports. In baseball, Lotte Chiba Marines' Tomohiro Kuroki succumbed to a 3 run homer by former Chunichi Dragons'David Nilsson, alias Dingo representing Australia. But other than that Kuroki did a good job pitching until the 8th inning. Amateur Yoshinori Okihara blasted a 3 run homer in the 6th inning to help Japan defeat Australia 7 to 3. In women's softball, Japan and US played into extra innings. The game ended when Japan batted in it's 2nd run against the US. It's the first time in 30 years that Japan beat the US in the sport.

* Sept 18
Another silver was earned in swimming. Mai Nakamura was leading the women's 100 meter backstroke until about the last 10 meters or so, but Romania's Diana Mocanu finished faster. But Nakamura seemed elated with the result, nevertheless. She broke the Japan record clocking 1'00.55 min. In the same race, another Japanese Noriko Inada was 5th.

In judo, Kie Kusakabe defeated Shen Jun of China for the bronze in the women's 57 kilo. She won with an "osotogari". Last Olympic champion Kenzo Nakamura was defeated in the 4th round of the men's 73 kilo and failed to recover in the loser's round.

In Japan's medal expectant team sports, in softball, it's defeated China 3 to 1. In baseball this time, pro players Norihiro Nakamura and Nobuhiko Matsunaka homered to help Japan win 10 to 2 to the Netherlands. An unfortunate result was that Japan missed the medal in men's gymnastics team event by just a little to Russia.

* Sept 17
In judo's women's 52 kilo, Noriko Narasaki came in second. Unfortunately, she lost in the final to Cuban judoka Legna Verdecia's after Narasaki had earned a "yuko". Still, she did better than in Atlanta. She won the bronze then. But she did not show any sign of achievement after the bout. In swimming, Kosuke Kitajima's 4th place in the men's 100 meter butterfly was the best standing.

In team sports, the Japanese fans were most elated with the soccer team's achievement. In it's second game in Group D, Japan defeated Slovakia 2 to 1. In the later half, it was Hide Nakata of AS Roma who headed in a goal. Last game's hero, Naohiro Takahara dribbled the ball alone for quite a distance. Junichi Inamoto received the pass and goaled. That was in the 74th minute. After Andrej Poraz of Slovakia goaled in the 83rd minute, Japan appeared to have grown tense. But it managed to safely end the game. If Japan when's the next game against Brazil, it can proceed to the quarter finals.

In baseball, Japan lost to the US in a 13 inning game 2 to 4. Seibu Lions Daisuke Matsuzaka started for Japan and pitched 10 innings, lost 2 runs. But his teammates could not hit well enough to support him. Meanwhile, Japan's women's softball team defeated Cuba 4 to 1.

* Sept 16
In the women's 400 meter medley in the women's swimming event, Yasuko Tajima took the silver medal to become Japan's first medalist at the Sydney Games. Tajima kept 2nd place until she dropped to 3rd in the breast stroke lap. But she recovered in the freestyle and clocked 4 minutes 35.96 breaking the Japan record. She said in an interview that she's not satisfied, because she was aiming for the gold.

Finals for judo's men's 60 kilo class and the women's 48 kilo took place. Japan won gold medals in both categories. Japan's superstar Ryoko Tamura had a tough time in the sem-finals against a North Korean. They were stopped by the refree from time to time, and both warned for impassive action. But as the match was coming to an end, Tamura got her opponent on the floor and tried to gain points. And she succeeded. In the final, she faced Russia's Lioubov Brouletova and about 35 seconds into the bout she used a "uchimata" which gave her an ippon. The 25 year old 3 time Olympian leaped with joy to win her very first gold medal. Tamura ran into the stands, hugged her mentors, and waved to fans. Last Olympic champion Tadahiro Nomura showed different kinds of winning techniques in 4 bouts. In the final, it only took him a little over 10 seconds to defeat S. Korea's Jung Bu Kyung. He used a rare skill called "sumi otoshi". It's the first time in the Olympics that the hinomaru flag was hoisted as a national flag, and "Kimigayo" played as the national anthem.

Opening Ceremony
The Japanese delegation surprised the viewers. They came in wearing capes in different colors which was not informed to the public before hand.

* Sept 14
On Sept 14, one day before the opening ceremony, the Japanese soccer team played against South Africa in Canberra. It appeared in the first half that Japan was stiff. And in the 31st minute, it was South Africa's Siyabonga Nombethe who goaled first. Naohiro Takahara of Jubilo Iwata had 2 tries at the goal but missed. Then in the 46th minute, he did it with his head. In the later half, it was Takahara again. Hidetoshi Nakata of AS Roma passed the ball to him, and Takahara, seeing the opposing goalkeeper closing onto him kicked the ball slowly in. Japan defeated South Africa 2 to 1. For Japan's French head coach Philippe Troussier, the victory was very important because it was against members he once coached. He is said to have left South Africa because he did not get along with the players.
Japan in Group D
Sept 14 vs. South Africa
Sept 17 vs. Slovakia
Sept 20 vs. Brazil