Volleyball standout Kimura to join Turkish club

Kyodo

Women’s volleyball ace Saori Kimura will move to VakifBank TT in Turkey’s top league from next season, her Premier League team Toray Arrows announced Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Kimura, who will play for Japan in the London Olympics, said the move to the Turkish team will allow her to develop as a player.

“They said they need me to win a championship,” said Kimura. “I want to achieve great results as a professional with this team.”

Kimura’s contract is for one season. She will leave Toray at the end of September and join VakifBank before the season gets under way in October.

Turkey’s top league has seen phenomenal growth in recent years.

“There is so much that I can learn from playing with these top-level players,” said Kimura. “I’ve been inspired by watching other players of my generation like (Inter Milan’s Yuto) Nagatomo-san, and (CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke) Honda-san play overseas. I think it will be better for me to challenge something new rather than stay in Japan.”

Based in Istanbul, VakifBank is a six-time league champion.

A versatile attacker, Kimura was named at age 17 to the Japanese Olympic team for the Athens Olympics and also participated four years later in the Beijing Games.