Japan is sending a record number of athletes to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia hoping to also bag a record number of medals. The games will be kicking off in Februrary, and for the first time in history, Japan’s women athletes outnumber the men in this record delegation.
This number is attributed to Japan’s participation and successful qualification in women’s ice hockey, the first time in 16 years, with the team sending 21 players bound for Russia. Japan’s male ice hockey team failed to qualify for the Winter Olympics. According to the Japan Olympic Committee, the entire delegation will be made up of 113 athletes, 48 men and 65 women, the biggest Japanese contingent ever sent to a Winter Games. Japan’s chef de mission to Sochi, former Olympic women’s speed skater and cyclist Seiko Hashimoto, has set the delegation’s goal of breaking their best ever medal haul, the 10 medals (including 5 gold ones) won when Japan hosted the Winter Olympics in Nagano 16 years ago.
The goal is somewhat ambitious according to sports pundits and experts, but 17-year-old Sara Takanashi is definitely a shoo-in for a gold medal. Takanashi has already won eight of this current season’s 11 World Cup women’s ski-jumping events so far. Figure skating may also provide medals, as two-time world champion Mao Asada is raring to get one over South Korea’s Kim Yu-Na, who defeated her in Vancouver in 2010. Japan other possible medal-strength sports are speed skating, freestyle skiing, cross country skiing and snowboarding.
[via Tengri News]