Japan chief pleased with showing


Japanese delegation head Seiko Hashimoto expressed satisfaction with the country’s medal count at the Vancouver Olympics on Sunday, praising the efforts of the athletes for winning five medals.

Japan failed to win a gold medal and the haul of three silver and two bronze medals was well short of the 10 it had targeted ahead of the Games. But Hashimoto pointed out that it was a significant improvement on the lone gold won by figure skater Shizuka Arakawa in Turin, Italy four years ago.

“We won four more medals than at the last Winter Olympics in Turin. That shows that the athletes tried hard. We would have liked one gold though,” Hashimoto told a press conference.

Japan’s medal total was way below the 14 won by archrival South Korea, which bagged six skating gold medals.

“I heard that the South Koreans’ target was five medals. That they easily cleared that goal shows the measures the country has taken to strengthen,” said Hashimoto.

“They have the same build (as Japanese) and it is good that a fellow Asian country has made such a big effort.”

Looking ahead to the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia, Hashimoto said, “A lot rests on how seriously the country (Japan) takes sport. There has to be a better performance in Sochi.”

Mao Asada won the women’s figure skating silver medal while Japan also took a pair of silver medals in the speedskating competition — Keiichiro Nagashima in the men’s 500 and the Japanese women’s team in the pursuit event.

Joji Kato finished behind Nagashima to win the bronze and Daisuke Takahashi won bronze in men’s figure skating.