Kinuko Idogawa, the main attacker of Japan’s 1964 Olympic gold medal-winning women’s volleyball team, died at the age of 81 of a brain hemorrhage Friday, sources close to her said Sunday.
The Japan team, who became famous as the “Witches of the Orient,” became national heroes at the Tokyo Olympics by winning the women’s gold medal in the inaugural Olympic volleyball tournament.
An Osaka-native, the 168-cm Idogawa, whose maiden name was Tanida, was a key figure at Shitennoji High School and Osaka-based corporate team Nichibo Kaizuka, where 10 of the 12 members of the gold medal-winning team played.
National team coach Hirobumi Daimatsu, a volleyball Hall of Famer, became famous for his harsh practice methods that honed their ability to make their trademark diving, tumbling saves and earned them their nickname.
The hosts clinched the gold medal by beating the Soviet Union in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the final game of the round-robin competition.
Idogawa retired following the 1964 Games but welcomed offers to coach amateur teams throughout her life.
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