Japan claims three more medals but wait for gold continues


Japan added three more medals in athletics, wheelchair tennis and swimming on Thursday, but continued to feel the sting of not achieving a gold medal thus far at the Rio Paralympics.

A silver-medal effort from T52 wheelchair racer Tomoki Sato in the men’s 1,500 meters and bronze medals for tennis pair Shingo Kunieda and Satoshi Saida in the men’s doubles and blind swimmer Keiichi Kimura in the men’s S11 100-meter freestyle boosted the country’s medal tally to 19.

But with three days of action remaining at the Rio Paralympics, Japan is still without a gold medal and lagging behind its goal of winning 40 medals in the Sept. 7-18 games. Of the 19 medals, eight are silver and 11 are bronze.

Reversed rulings involving three Japanese athletes caused confusion at Olympic Stadium, where Sato was once disqualified before the results were revised and officials confirmed his second-place finish.

Sato crossed the finish line in 3 minutes, 41.70 minutes behind American Raymond Martin (3:40.63) to capture his second silver of the games in addition to the 400.

“The silver is the result of my putting out my best effort. I have no regrets,” said Sato, who led the race until Martin came from behind in the final 200 meters to snatch gold.

“I didn’t notice him (Martin) speeding down the home stretch, and I couldn’t close the gap in the end,” he said.

Hirokazu Ueyonabaru was bumped from fourth and thought he won bronze when Sato’s disqualification was announced, but the call was overturned and Ueyonabaru, who let the bronze slip through his grasp at the London Games due to disqualification, once again missed out on a medal.

In the end, Akikazu Noda, who came home seventh, was disqualified for violating Paralympic regulations regarding urine leakage, but Japan Para Athletics was planning to file a protest.

At Olympics Aquatics Stadium, Kimura touched the wall in 59.63 seconds to pick up his fourth medal in Rio in the race won by American Bradley Snyder in 56.15.

“I wasn’t in good condition so I just focused on doing the best I could. It was tough. A medal (in this discipline) means a lot,” said Kimura, who is competing in five events and has one event remaining — the 200 individual medley.

At Olympic Tennis Center, the Kunieda-Saida pair beat Takuya Miki and Takashi Sanada in an all-Japanese bronze-medal match 6-3, 6-4 as Kunieda made his fourth podium finish in as many Paralympics.

“This is special. I’m glad I won in the very end,” said Kunieda, who missed out on an opportunity to win his third straight Paralympic gold in the singles.

Elsewhere, in swimming, Japan finished sixth in the women’s 4×100 relay 34 points event and the wheelchair rugby team advanced to the semifinals.

In athletics, Atsushi Yamamoto finished seventh in the men’s 100 T42, while Saki Takakuwa was also seventh in the women’s 200 T44. Sae Tsuji booked herself a spot in the final in the women’s 200 T47 class.

In boccia mixed individual matches, both Takayuki Hirose and Hidetaka Sugimura were eliminated in the BC2 quarterfinals.

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