• Kyodo

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Japan won the bronze medal in the women’s technical routine team competition at the world swimming championships for the second time in a row on Tuesday, securing the country’s first podium finish at the ongoing meet in Budapest.

Yukiko Inui, Mai Nakamura, Kanami Nakamaki, Sakiko Akutsu, Juka Fukumura, Minami Kono, Kei Marumo and Kano Omata scored 93.1590 points, edging rival Ukraine by 0.7994 points. Russia won with 96.0109 and China was runner-up at 94.2165.

“The competition was pretty tough, but we were able to put into our performance our strong feelings of wanting to change the flow and win a medal today,” Inui said. “We would have been in trouble if we had lost.”

At the last worlds, two years ago, the Japanese team won a medal for the first time in four championships and went on to win bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last August.

In Sunday’s women’s technical routine duet, the Japanese pair of Inui and Nakamura failed to defend the bronze in the discipline, ending in fourth place behind Ukraine.

This result prompted coach Masayo Imura to warn her swimmers on Monday night, “It’s possible that we may not medal here. If that happens, you can’t go back to Japan.”

After Tuesday’s team final, Imura said, “it’s really difficult to win a medal at the world championships. It takes so much effort to win the first one.”

The team includes three newcomers including 19-year-old Akutsu, who said she thought the competition was much bigger than she had imagined.

Inui expressed satisfaction that the team “became one” and that its members were together “able to take one step forward.”

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