Olympics

Japan Sports Council selects sprinter Sani Brown, six other athletes for new overseas training program

Kyodo

The Japan Sport Council said Thursday it has chosen up-and-coming male sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and six other promising Japanese athletes to participate in a new intensive overseas training program eyeing major competitions such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In addition to the 17-year-old Sani Brown, female table tennis player Miu Hirano, 16, male table tennis player Tomokazu Harimoto, 13, and 19-year-old male judoka Hifumi Abe are among those selected for the program.

The criteria for athletes considered for the program include those who are 23 years old or younger and able to continue competing until 2020. The selectees will go abroad in the long term together with their coach and trainer to undergo training.

The two table tennis players, for example, will train in China, according to the council.

The three other athletes chosen are Tsukasa Yoshida, a 21-year-old female judoka, Yosuke Watanuki, an 18-year-old male tennis player and Himari Sato, a 14-year-old female tennis player.

The council also said it has added women’s freestyle swimming and the women’s rhythmic gymnastics team event from the Olympic program and women’s wheelchair tennis from the Paralympics to the list of sports to which funds will be injected and strategies compiled as part of efforts to increase the number of events in which Japan will medal at the Tokyo Games.

In another development Thursday, the Japanese Paralympic Committee unveiled a plan to invite coaches and trainers from Olympic sports, to narrow down events in which Japan’s Paralympians are likely to perform well, and to reinforce coordination with the Japan Sport Council.

The committee explained the moves, aimed at rebuilding the Japan national team for the Tokyo Paralympics after its athletes failed to win any gold medals in Rio de Janeiro last month, in a report to an all-party parliamentary group involving sports.