RIO DE JANEIRO – Japan’s hopes of reaching its stated target of 40 medals at the Rio 2016 Paralympics appear to be fading after another disappointing day on Saturday that saw just one medal, a bronze, won by defending champion Kento Masaki in judo.
Japan’s third judo bronze raises the country’s medal total to five — one silver, four bronze — and leaves the next Paralympic host languishing in 44th in the overall medal table. Four years ago in London, Japan finished with five gold, five silver and six bronze which was good enough for 24th rank overall.
Masaki, 29, competing in the over-100-kg division of men’s judo for visually impaired athletes, took an ippon win over Hamzeh Nadri from Iran.
Masaki’s quest to win gold for the second consecutive Paralympics was put on hold earlier in the day, when he fell to Adiljan Tuledibaev from Uzbekistan in the semifinal.
Japan saw a long jumper just miss a medal for the second consecutive day. This time it was Kaede Maegawa in the women’s T42 event. The 18-year-old, who lost the lower part of her leg in a car accident, leapt 3.68 meters to set an Asian record but was 24 cm off third place.
Yuka Kiyama matched her track and field teammate with a fourth-place finish in the women’s 400-meter T52 final. Kiyama ran a one-minute, 21.87-second time to finish well behind the medalists.
Women’s wheelchair tennis singles second-seed Yui Kamiji was dominant in her first match of the tournament, losing just six points in total in her 6-0, 6-0 win over Brazil’s Rejane Candida.
The 22-year-old Kamiji, from Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, lost three points on serve in the whole match, two on double faults, with her opponent completely outclassed in every facet by the two-time singles slam winner.
Japan’s mixed boccia team had a strong start to its campaign to win the country’s first Paralympic medal in the sport, winning twice on the first day to book a quarterfinal place.
The first match saw a 6-3 win over the Netherlands and the second a 10-4 victory against Great Britain. Japan now has a quarterfinal matchup with China, which beat Brazil but lost to heavily reigning champion Thailand in the pool phase.
Japan’s only swimming finalist of the day, men’s 100-m SB7 breaststroke competitor Tomotaro Nakamura, could only manage seventh in his race. The veteran finished almost 11 seconds behind Colombia’s Carlos Serrano Zarate, who broke his own world record by more than a second in winning gold.
The world No. 33-ranked Tomohiro Ueyama secured an excellent fourth in the men’s individual recurve wheelchair archery ranking round, scoring 628 points. He now faces German Gomez Perdomo of Colombia in the round of 32 on Tuesday. The South American is ranked 112nd in the world — the only competitor ranked outside the world’s top-60 who remains in the competition.
The third full day of Paralympic competition wrapped up for Japan with a third consecutive loss for the men’s wheelchair basketball team. After heavy defeats to Spain and Turkey, Japan was able to keep its match against the Netherlands closer, but still went down 67-59.
Japan got a fine 25-point, 11-rebound performance from captain Reo Fujimoto, with Hiroaki Kozai chipping in 22 points and 11 assists, but Mustafa Korkmaz offset the key Japanese pair with 33 points, carrying the Dutch to the win.
The loss for Japan effectively ended its hopes of taking a quarterfinal place. With two matches to go, one against the unbeaten Australia and another against fellow winless team Canada, Japan sits fifth in the group behind the Dutch team.