The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Japan's track cycling team for Beijing

Japan is sending 12 track riders to Beijing, with some good prospects among them.

Top medal contender is Masashi Ishii who managed to do an almost unheard of double when he won gold in the kilometre time trial and road race at the 2007 UCI Para-Cycling World Championships. (For runners among you, that's like winning the 1,500m then winning the marathon). Oh, and just incase you think these guys are slow - Ishii has ridden a 3min 41.3sec three kilometer and a 1.09 kilometre. He's quick. In Beijing, the medals will almost certainly be split between Ishii and Chris Scott from Australia.

Masashi Ishii training hard for a swag of gold medals

A dark horse for a medal is Satomi Wadami. The 21 year old from Tottori Prefecture has been improving very fast this year, winning both the Devonport Wheelrace in Tasmania against a strong international field and taking gold at the World "B" Championships.

Satomi Wadami in her Tottori racing strip

The two guys with the most weight of expectation on their shoulders, however, are Tomohiro Nagatsuka and Toshiaki Fushimi. When they won silver in the Athens Games people were surprised. But this time, with the help of new coach Frédéric Mangé, a 3-time world champion, they should be even faster.

Nagatsuka and Fushimi in the team sprint event

Makoto Iijima is going to struggle, but he'll be up there. He's ridden a long European season, so he's put in as many miles as anyone else he'll be up against.

Makoto Iijima - has been putting in the miles in Europe

Like Wadami, Kazunari Watanabe travelled to Tasmania to race in a tough series of races and performed well. I am presuming he will team up with Nagatsuka and Fushimi in the team sprint. A medal is a real possibility.

Kazunari Watanabe wins in Tasmania

Other riders in the team are Tsubasa Kitasuru and Kiyofumi Nagai (both sprint squad); and Tatsuyuki Oshiro, Mutsuhiko Ogawa and Masaki Fujita (all Paralympics) and one more, who I think will do well: Sakie Tsukuda.

Sakie Tsukuda (centre)

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