Yuko Arimori on Anniversary of First Japanese Women's Olympic Medal and Death of Its Winner Kinue Hitomi: "Never Forget Her"
An event looking back at the life of Japan's first female Olympian and first female Olympic medalist Kinue Hitomi, winner of the silver medal in the 800 m at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, took place at Tokyo's Mainichi Hall on Aug. 2. Two-time Olympic marathon medalist Yuko Arimori and judo Olympic medalist Kaori Yamaguchi discussed the achievements of the pioneer of women's sports and the hardships she faced.
Aug. 2 is the anniversary of the day Hitomi won her medal in Amsterdam. It is also the anniversary of her death three years later at just 24 years old. Like Hitomi a native of Okayama prefecture, Arimori also won her first marathon medal, a silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, on Aug. 2, the first Japanese woman in the 64 years since Hitomi to medal in track and field at the Olympics. "It was thanks to Hitomi having led the way that I had the courage to do what I did at the Olympics and later as a pro," Arimori reflected. "Everyone involved in sports must never forget her."
Translator's note: Having set multiple national and world records in sprints and field events, Hitomi choked and didn't make it out of the 100 m semifinals in Amsterdam. Distraught, she asked to be put in the 800 m, a distance she had never run. As shown in the video above, after finishing 2nd in the semifinal she started the final with a crouching start and immediately took the lead. Other members of the Japanese team told her to slow down, which she did, before coming back in the last 200 m to take silver behind Germany's Lina Radke, both of them breaking the world record. The depiction of the race in NHK's ongoing Idaten drama about the history of Japan and the Olympics, mixing real and recreated footage, has been the highlight of the series so far by a long shot. The highlights clip below cuts out the historical footage but you get the feeling. Aug. 2 will also be the date of the women's marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, surely not a coincidence.
translated by Brett Larner