• Kyodo

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Olympic medal hopeful Joji Kato captured his third successive 500 meters crown with a pair of victories while Hiroyasu Shimizu finished a disappointing eighth on the opening day of the single-distance championships on Saturday.

Kato clocked 35.28 seconds in the first run at the M-Wave ice arena in Nagano and also prevailed in the second run to complete victory with a meet-record combined time of 1:10.73.

Yuya Oikawa was second overall in 1:11.28 with Keiichiro Nagashima third in 1:11.34.

Kato expressed dissatisfaction with his performance in the first race despite coming within 0.03 seconds of the meet record in a single race Shimizu set five seasons ago.

“I was very shabby on the corners and not even half as good as I was during my best part of last season,” said Kato.

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