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Japan’s Olympic medal dreams

Kazuma Tomoto and Tacoma D’Horset of Japan at the Ready Steady Tokyo event © FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi

Kazuma Tomoto and Tacoma D’Horset of Japan at the Ready Steady Tokyo event

© FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi

 

Words by Richard Mulligan

Japan has set its sights on a Tokyo 2020 Eventing medal ahead of its most exciting ever year for equestrian sports.
 
It is now little more than six months before the eyes of the sporting world turn towards Japan and the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 24 and Paralympics on August 25.
 
As the Olympic year of 2020 has now arrived, FEI.org spoke to Masao Wada, the head of Japan’s equestrian federation, about how much the country is looking forward to this sporting festival, and what the hosts can achieve in the Dressage, Eventing and Jumping competitions.

Japan will be represented across the equestrian disciplines in Tokyo, but it is Eventing where hopes are highest.

The team has targeted a medal in Eventing, which would not be the biggest of shocks considering the level of performances in recent years and the progress of top talents such as Kazuma Tomoto, Atsushi Negishi and Yoshiaki Oiwa.
 
Taizo Sugitani and Karen Polle are among the leading Jumping talents, while the Japanese team of Masanao Takahashi, Shunsuke Terui, Kazuki Sado and Akane Kuroki won Dressage gold at the 2018 Asian Games.

Masao said: “All Japanese riders are excited about the prospect of the Olympics being held on home soil and are really eager to participate.
 
“All athletes from Jumping, Dressage and Eventing have been making progress towards 2020. This is especially true in Eventing, as we were fourth at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and third at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Final in 2019, with each rider performing well.
 
 “We hope to get a medal in the Team Eventing and place within the top eight in the Team Jumping and Dressage.”
 
It promises to be a busy year of preparations for the Japanese athletes. Of course, not everyone can make the Japanese team and competition will be fierce for one of the potentially life-changing qualification spots.

The squad will be chosen by mid-June, with the Jumping and Eventing participants selected based on performances in both competition and training camps. Masao explained that for Dressage the best four combinations from competitions between the start of this year and May will be sent to CHIO Aachen, with the team chosen after the event in Germany in early June.

 

Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto on Brookpark Vikenti. © Adam Fanthorpe

Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto on Brookpark Vikenti

© Adam Fanthorpe


 
Preparations are impacted by the fact that elite Japanese equestrian athletes tend to be based overseas, but there are big plans to ensure the public get to know the sport and its top names. The test event last August certainly created a buzz, with international stars Michael Jung and Andrew Hoy among those to compete at the Equestrian Park in Baji Koen and the Sea Forest Cross-Country Course.

“We are working closely with public relations from the venue city and the organisers to introduce our sports in Japan. We will have articles published and events held in places connected to our sports,” Masao said.
 
“We had the test event in August when top athletes and horses came to Japan, and that made us excited and we realised that the Olympics would happen in just one year. Since then it’s been four months - the Olympics is getting closer and I imagine that lots of top athletes and horses will come to Japan as I see the quota spots getting filled now. Our country will watch the fantastic and exciting performances here in Tokyo.”

Source: FEI

 

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