More Sports / Winter Sports

Nao Kodaira wins sixth national sprint championship title

Kyodo

Nao Kodaira won her sixth national sprint championship on Sunday, beating Miho Takagi by a narrow margin.

Kodaira kept her lead from the previous day by winning the women’s 500 meters and placing runner-up in the 1,000 at Meiji Hokkaido Tokachi Oval.

She scored a two-day total of 150.315 points, edging Takagi by 0.34 in the meet where skaters compete twice over 500 and 1,000 meters.

“Before I arrived in Obihiro, I’d caught a cold, and on top of that my uniform was not the right size, so I was unable to get as much out of my upper body,” Kodaira said. “Despite that, I was able to skate well in four races. Going against top-level competition is always a plus.”

In Sunday’s 500, Pyeongchang Olympic champion Kodaira finished in 37.44 seconds, while Takagi was 0.67 behind in second. Kodaira’s 500-meter victory was the 32-year-old’s 36th straight over that distance.

Takagi finished ahead of Kodaira in both 1,000-meter races but was third in Saturday’s 500.

In the men’s competition, Tatsuya Shinhama won his maiden title with 138.735 points, while Masaya Yamada was second.

Shinhama won his second 500 of the two-day tournament on Sunday, crossing the line in 34.71 seconds. The 22-year-old won two World Cup 500 races in November.

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