Speed skater Takagi finishes 6th in 3000m, misses medal
19:05 JST, February 5, 2022
BEIJING — Speed skating and other events started in full swing on Saturday, a day after the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics. With Team Japan comprising 124 athletes, it was the largest delegation the country has sent to a Winter Games overseas, and a large medal haul is expected.
Miho Takagi, 27, captain of Japan, appeared in the women’s 3000-meter speed skating event on Saturday, in her third Olympic Games. She finished in 6th place, missing out on a medal. Takagi is set to compete in four more events, including the 1500 meters on Monday.
In women’s snowboard slopestyle, Kokomo Murase, 17, and Reira Iwabuchi, 20, advanced to the final, set to take place on Sunday.
Earning her spot
“I think all the Japanese athletes here in Beijing have been waiting for this day a long time,” Takagi said, before her race. “I hope that everyone will be able to fight on until the end and that everyone can accomplish what they set out to do.”
When Takagi was 15 years old, still a third-year student in junior high school, she competed in her first Olympics — the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. “Twelve years ago, I was staring at the backs of more experienced athletes and just trying to chase them down,” she said.
She came in 35th in the 1000 meters and 23rd in the 1500 meters. Takagi was not able to compete in the team pursuit, but Japan took silver.
Although Takagi steadily improved, she did not make the national team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and it changed the way she viewed competitions. Four years later, she took home a gold, a silver and a bronze medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. This season, Takagi showed her dominance by winning three consecutive World Cup victories in the 1500 meters.
“It’s been 12 years since Vancouver and I’m genuinely happy to be entrusted with the important role of captain,” she said.
Aiming to medal
In her first Olympics, snowboarder Murase came in second and advanced to the final. “I had a really great time out there,” Murase said.
She said the wind affected her run but tried to stay positive. “I think the wind won’t be as strong tomorrow [on Sunday], so I’ll give it my all and aim for a spot on the podium,” she said.
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