Japan Qualifies in Paris in Both Men’s Relays

REUTERS/Dante Carrer
Athletics – World Athletics Relays – Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas – May 5, 2024 Japan’s Koki Ueyama and Sota Miwa react after the 4X100 metres relay men final

NASSAU — Japan qualified for the Paris Olympics in both of the men’s relays after winning their qualifying races at the World Athletics Relays in Nassau on Saturday.

The team of Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, Hiroki Yanagita, Koki Ueyama and Sota Miwa won Heat 4 of the 4×100 relay in 38.10 seconds to book its ticket to Paris.

China also qualified by finishing second in 38.25 as the top two in each heat secured Olympic berths as well as places in Sunday’s final.

“It’s the first time we have used this order, but we were as determined as we were nervous,” leadoff runner Sani Brown said. “Now we want to take it up a level.”

Sani Brown said he practiced the exchange with Yanagita only twice, but they managed a smooth pass that set the squad on the path to victory.

In the men’s 4×400 relay, Kentaro Sato, Yudai Nishi, Fuga Sato and Kaito Kawabata combined to win Heat 1 in 3 minutes 0.98 seconds to gain an Olympic place.

Japan failed to qualify in the women’s 4×100 and the mixed 4×400 events after finishing seventh in both qualifying races.

In the finals on Sunday, Japan finished fourth in both the 4×100 and 4×400, with each barely missing a bronze medal. Yanagita and Miwa were joined by Shoma Yamamoto and Koki Ueyama on the 4×100 team that missed third place by .01 to France, while Yuki Joseph Nakajima replaced Nishi on the 4×400 foursome that finished .04 behind third-place Belgium.

In the men’s 4×100, Japan is hoping to regain a place on the medal podium that has been elusive in recent years. Japan won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and followed that with consecutive bronzes at the 2017 and 2019 world championships.

The Japanese squad failed to finish in the final at the Tokyo Olympics, then placed fifth at the 2023 world championships in Budapest. Yanagita and Sani Brown were members of the latter team.