• Kyodo

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Japan finished runner-up in the group all-around competition at the rhythmic gymnastics world championships in Baku on Saturday to match the country’s best result and claim its first silver medal in 44 years.

The team of Rie Matsubara, Sayuri Sugimoto, Nanami Takenaka, Ayuka Suzuki, Kiko Yokota and Sakura Noshitani finished with a combined total of 58.200 points, just half a point behind Russia, which claimed its fourth straight group all-around title. Bulgaria took bronze with 58.000.

“Fairy Japan,” who landed on the podium for the first time since winning bronze in 2017, finished first in hoops and clubs and third in balls to advance to Sunday’s final, earning the 2020 Olympic hosts a spot at the next Summer Games.

“I’m really happy. I feel like Russia can be overtaken,” Sugimoto said. “There’s nothing we can’t do. I want to win the gold at the Tokyo Olympics.”

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