Irie, a native of Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, is the first athlete from the sparsely populated prefecture to win Olympic gold.
Kaz Nagatsuka is a staff writer covering Japanese sports, including Japanese professional baseball, basketball, American football and individual sports. He has covered big sporting events such as the World Baseball Classic, the NFL Super Bowl and soccer's World Cup.
For Kaz Nagatsuka's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
The Akatsuki Five will now advance to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive Summer Olympics.
Japan made an early exit from the Games having gone winless, ending their tournament with a 97-77 loss to Argentina in their final Group B contest at Saitama Super Arena on Sunday.
After squeaking past New Zealand, the team appeared unfazed by the down-to-the-wire drama, because, at the end of the day, winning was the ultimate goal in the knockout stage.
“3x3 will have a huge impact on Japanese basketball in the future and there is a good chance Japan becomes a 3x3 powerhouse,” said Torsten Loibl, the director/coach of the country's teams.
Skateboarding is often perceived as an activity for rebellious teenagers, but devotees of the sport hope that gold medals by Japanese athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will change that image.
Now Japan needs to defeat Argentina, the 2004 Olympic gold medalists, in their final Group B game on Sunday in order to give themselves a chance of advancing to the knockout stage.
Ando had severely hurt her knee when she dropped a 120-kg barbell just three weeks before the Tokyo Olympics.
The first game of any tournament is always tough, especially on one of the biggest stages in sports, and that was certainly the case for Samurai Japan on Wednesday.
The hosts and the French squad went toe-to-toe — while employing completely different styles — throughout a seesaw affair that saw 17 lead changes.