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Mai Murakami defends NHK Cup title

Kyodo

Mai Murakami put herself in pole position for a spot at this year’s world championships on Saturday, when she won the women’s NHK Cup overall competition for the second straight year.

Murakami, who started the day with 112.398 points from April’s national championships, added another 56.132 points on Saturday at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Asuka Teramoto finished 5.902 back in second.

Hitomi Hatakeda was third, Aiko Sugihara fourth, Nagi Kajita fifth and Sae Miyakawa sixth to round out the field of candidates for the worlds in Doha, starting from Oct. 25. The Japan Gymnastics Association will select five competitors for Doha.

The men’s competition will be held Sunday, with Kohei Uchimura, the two-time defending Olympic champion, seeking to be one of two men slated to compete in Doha. In April, Uchimura finished third at the nationals, where he had been the 10-time defending champ.