CHIBA, Japan (AP) – Japan broke their own single Olympic gold medal record. The host country still has nine days of competition to play.
The Japanese men’s 45-36 victory over Russian fencers in the team épée final on Friday netted Japan’s 17th gold in Tokyo. A week has passed since the opening ceremony and the last medals take place on August 8.
Japan’s previous record for gold medals was 16 for the first Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 and the Games in Athens in 2004. Since then, however, the number of events on the Olympic program has increased.
The Japanese team of more than 600 Olympic athletes is the largest ever. Many of these athletes also have more opportunities these days to step onto the podium in team or mixed events in addition to their individual competitions.
Most of those gold medals – nine out of 17 – were won in judo. From judoka Naohisa Takato On Saturday the first athlete from the host country to reach the podium, the Japanese martial art has been a rich source of gold. 13-year-old skateboarder Momiji Nishiya was a winner and popular swimmer Yui Ohashi exceeded all expectations with two wins.
The 17th gold medal saw Japan become the first Asian nation to win the Olympic men’s epee fencing event by beating the Russian Olympic Committee team.
Japan were the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament, but surprised France 45-44 in the quarter-finals. In the final, Koki Kano beat second swordsman Sergey Bida 8-3 in the final fight to seal the victory. No team outside of Europe had reached the podium since Cuba at the 2000 Games in Sydney.
South Korea beat China 45-42 for the bronze medal.
More AP: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports