Volleyball Olympian named chief of underwear company

OSAKA (Kyodo) Charle Co., a door-to-door women’s underwear sales company, said Tuesday it has decided to appoint Yuko Mitsuya, a women’s volleyball bronze medalist in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, as president of the firm.

She will succeed Hiroko Hayashi on June 29.

Charle’s board of directors approved a proposal to hand over the presidency to Mitsuya, 45, at a meeting earlier in the day. She assumed the post of Charle adviser earlier this month.

Charle has decided to hand its presidency to Mitsuya, “because the ideas of Ms. Mitsuya correspond with our company’s fundamental ideals,” a company official said, noting she has served as an examiner for the firm’s philanthropic activities.

Charle has a workforce of 400 and is known for its successful door-to-door women’s underwear sales. It posts annual sales of some 40 billion yen.

Hayashi will assume the chairmanship on June 29, with Chairman Masaharu Hayashi becoming honorary chairman the same day, the company said.

Mitsuya joined the Japanese women’s Olympic volleyball team in 1979 when she was a Tsukuba University student. Her smile and down-to-earth nature made her popular among TV viewers, thus helping stir up the women’s volleyball boom.

Although she had the bitter experience of not being able to participate in the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to the U.S.-led boycott following the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, she acted as a pivotal player in helping the Japanese team take the bronze in Los Angeles in 1984.

The United States was joined by 50 other nations in the boycott, including Japan, the then West Germany and Canada.

Even after she retired as a professional player, she remained active in making a range of TV appearances and giving lectures on sports-related subjects.

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