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Japan’s speed skating team for PyeongChang 2018. © Kyodo
Sapporo AWG star Kodaira selected for third straight Winter Olympics

03 Jan 2018
Tokyo, Japan, January 3, 2018: Speed skating stars Nao Kodaira and Miho Takagi are among the 16 speed skaters named to Japan’s Winter Olympics team for PyeongChang 2018 next month by the Japan Skating Federation, Kyodo News reports. Kodaira, 31, is the reigning World Cup women’s 500m champion and the 1,000m world record-holder.

She will be looking for gold in both those races at PyeongChang 2018 – her third Winter Olympics. Takagi, 23, will race in the 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000. She will join her older sister Nana in the women’s team pursuit.

Kodaira and Takagi were among Japan’s stand-out athletes at the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo and Obihiro in February 2017, winning five individual gold medals between them in the speed skating. They are joined on the women’s squad by Arisa Go, Erina Kamiya, Ayaka Kikuchi, Misaki Oshigiri and Ayano Sato.

On the men’s team, Olympic bronze medallist Joji Kato will be a four-time Olympian, having made the cut with seven other skaters: Tsubasa Hasegawa, Shane Williamson, Daichi Yamanaka, Takuro Oda, Shota Nakamura, Ryosuke Tsuchiya and Seitaro Ichinohe.

Japan has won 15 Olympic speed skating medals — one gold, five silver, and nine bronze — but none since the 2010 Vancouver Games. In other news, the Ski Association of Japan announced that Sochi 2014 snowboarding silver medalists Ayumu Hirano and Tomoka Takeuchi, as well as 10 other athletes, will compete at PyeongChang. 

Hirano, who has won two World Cup events this season, will compete in the men’s halfpipe. Takeuchi, 34, will participate in her fifth straight Winter Olympics when she competes in the women’s parallel giant slalom. In freestyle skiing, Sochi bronze medallist Ayana Onozuka will compete in the women’s halfpipe and Naoya Tabara in the men’s aerials competition.
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