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Speed skater Tabata qualifies for fifth Olympic team

Kyodo

Speed skater Maki Tabata will be going to the Olympics for the fifth time in February after locking up a spot Friday on Japan’s team for the Sochi Games.

The 39-year-old Tabata recorded a time of 1 minute, 59.05 seconds in the women’s 1,500 meters on the first day of Olympic selection meet at the M-Wave arena. The time cleared the Japan Skating Federation standard for Olympic selection.

“My intent was to skate with my all my heart and not get worked up in my mind,” she said. “I wanted to go 1 minute, 57 seconds. You can’t be competitive in the world with this time.”

Ayaka Kikuchi was second and probably has a spot in Sochi with a time of 1:59.39. If she goes, it will be her first Olympics.

2010 Vancouver Olympians Miho Takagi and Nao Kodaira finished fifth and sixth.

Shota Nakamura won the men’s 1,500 in a time of 1:49.02, a time that did not meet the federation’s standard for Olympic selection. Taro Kondo, who had previously cleared the selection standard, was second.