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LinkAsia | Apr 26
Memories of Japan's military aggression in World War II erupted in the Pacific after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a delegation of parliam...
Just over 4 years ago, all eyes were on Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. Now it's London's turn.
Over the past several Olympics, Asian athletes have done progressively better. And this year, hopes are high. In the countdown to the London Games, we're asking sports journalists in three of Asia's athletic powerhouses who to watch.
First to South Korea. Its team exceeded expectations in Beijing four years ago, coming in seventh in the medal count. But how will the team do in London? Yoo Jee-ho is a sports journalist with Yonhap News Agency in South Korea to tell us who looks like a winner.
The first one on the list should be Park Tae-hwan in men's freestyle swimming. He is the reigning Olympic gold medalist, and also two-time world champion in men's 400-meter freestyle. He also has the second fastest time in the world in that distance. He is also a confident young man. He said his goal is not just to win his second straight Olympic gold medal, but also to set a world record.
The second on the list should be Im Dong-hyuk in men's archery. He does have two Olympic gold medals and also 4 world titles. Interestingly, he is also legally blind out of his left eye. I had a chance to speak to him recently about his eyesight. But he said it doesn't bother him one way or the other -- it's not going to affect him in London Olympics this summer.
Finally, Yang Hak-seon in men's gymnastics. He is the reining world champion in men's vault. He's already so great at 19-years-old. He has got a new move named after him by the International Gymnastics Federation -- it's called the "Yang Hak-seon."
The one dark horse to watch should be Nam Hyun-hee in women's fencing. She did win the silver medal in Beijing Olympics four years ago, lost to Valentina Vezzali of Italy by one point. But I think she does have one Olympic gold medal left in her at 30-years-old.
Thanks, Jee-ho. Yoo Jee-ho is a reporter in Seoul. Now, Japan came in eighth in the medal count in Beijing, just behind South Korea. Fred Varcoe covers sport in Tokyo. Fred, do you think Japan will do better in London than it did back in Beijing?
There is always great expectations in the media in Japan about the Olympic team. But this time around, they don't have that strong a squad, and I think they'll be lucky to beat their nine gold metals in Beijing.
Which athletes are favorites to win medals in London?
What they do have is the World Cup winners in women's soccer, including Homare Sawa, the MVP. In fact the whole squad of the Japan's women squad are all from the World Cup from the last year, when they won in Germany.
Also, Saori Yoshida, who's only lost one wrestling bout in 11 years and has won two Olympic gold metals already. She'll be a dead set for another gold.
Kohei Uchimura only won silver in Beijing, but he's since won three straight world championships in gymnastics, and he just can't do anything wrong at the moment.
Kousuke Kitajima, another veteran. He's won four gold metals in the 100 and 200 breast stroke, and he's going for an unprecedented third straight gold metal in both those events.
Is there any one Japanese athlete who you think has been sort of under the radar, but who you think actually has a chance of doing well?
Hiroshi Hoketsu is back in the Olympics again. He competed for the first time in 1964 in the equestrian event, and he is going to be 71 this time -- the second oldest athlete ever, I believe. And he's a great story, and he's a great competitor too.
Thanks, Fred. Fred Varcoe is a freelance sports reporter based out of Tokyo.
Next week, we'll look at China's team. Can it repeat its record-breaking clutch of medals from four years ago? We'll get an assessment from China's premier online news and sports outlet.