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Speed skater Kato claims 500-meter national title

Kyodo

Joji Kato, the Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s 500 meters, won his second straight title on Saturday at that distance at the Japan speed skating national championships.

Kato, who won his seventh career title, totaled 1 minute, 10.44 seconds over his two races at the M-Wave. Keiichiro Nagashima, who led after the first round with a time of 35.14, had a poor start in his second race and failed to make the podium. Yuya Oikawa was second in 1:10.49, while Ryohei Haga was third.

In the women’s 500, Nao Kodaira set a tournament record with 37.93 first run and led the field again in her second in a time of 37.98 to take the gold in the meet for the fifth straight year. Erina Kamiya was second, while 42-year-old Tomomi Okazaki was sixth.