• Kyodo

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Keiichiro Nagashima won his first title with a meet-record points total at the national sprint championships Wednesday and joined world record holder Joji Kato and veteran Hiroyasu Shimizu among Japanese speed skaters bound for the Winter Olympic Games in Turin.

Sayuri Yoshii preserved her overnight lead to claim her second straight crown in the women’s event while 34-year-old veteran Tomomi Okazaki finished runnerup and secured her spot in the Olympics for the fourth straight time.

Nagashima won the second 500-meter race of the two-day championships in 35.37 seconds and finished third in the 1,000 at the M-Wave ice area en route to his first national sprint title with 141.985 points from four races.

Yusuke Imai, who set a meet-record 1:10.73 in winning Wednesday’s 1,000, took second with 142.040. Nagano Olympic champion Shimizu followed in third with 142.710.

Men’s 500-meter world record holder Kato settled for fourth in the 500 in 35.56. He did not skate in the 1,000 on Wednesday.

Later in the day, the Japan Skating Federation selected Nagashima, Imai, Yuya Oikawa and Takaharu Nakajima for the Olympics in February along with middle and long distance skaters Takahiro Ushiyama, Teruhiro Sugimori, Kesato Miyazaki and Naoki Yasuda.

Kato and Shimizu had earlier been picked to skate in Turin for their strong performances last season.

In the women’s races, Yoshii came fourth in the 500 and won her second 1,000-meter race in as many days in 1:17.46 to finish tied with veteran Okazaki with 155.030 points after four races.

Yoshii, who won two races to Okazaki’s one, was declared overall winner. Aki Tonoike came third with 156.905 and Sayuri Osuga, winner of the second 500-meter race in 38.73, was fourth.

The four sprint skaters will compete in Turin along with fellow sprinter Yukari Watanabe and middle and long distance skaters Maki Tabata, Eriko Ishino, Hiromi Otsu, Nami Nemoto and Eriko Seo.

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