Tokyo Olympics. The women's team performed up to ability, delivering a season best 43.44 to finish 7th in their heat and not advancing to the final. The men's 4x100 m team has faced more pressure in the lead-up to this Olympics than anybody except maybe Japan's marathoners, so much so that the official Japanese broadcaster has been airing ads for the men's 4x100 m final all throughout the last week and a half on the assumption that the Japanese men would be there.
They will be, but barely. Japan finished 3rd in the first heat in 38.16 to take an auto-qualifying spot by 0.02 over France. With the two time qualifying spots going to Germany and Ghana in the second heat in 36.06 and 36.08 it was closer than anyone would have liked to a major embarrassment, and with Japan the slowest of the eight qualifiers for the final they've got a serious uphill climb ahead of them. Much of that depends on national champ Shuhei Tada and national record holder Ryota Yamagata, both of who were flat on the first two legs compared to solid runs from third and fourth men Yoshihide Kiryu and Yuki Koike.
In the men's 20 km race walk, Japan finally got on the board with a pair of medals. Koki Ikeda andToshikazu Yamanishi were part of a lead group of eight before breaking away in the final kilometers after a move by Italian Massimo Stano. Yamanishi was unable to stay with Stano's pace but Ikeda was there until into the last kilometer. Stano took gold in 1:21:05, Ikeda silver in 1:21:14 and Yamanishi bronze in 1:21:28, Japan's first medals in the event and at the Tokyo Olympics, and pushing its overall medal count in Tokyo to 43, a new record. Third man Eiki Takahashi was 32nd in 1:27:29.
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