There was incredible action from Tokyo on Saturday (8 May) as the recently crowned World Cup 2021 bronze medallists Fairy Japan graced the READY STEADY TOKYO Rhythmic Gymnastics test event at Ariake Gymnastics Centre, along with seven other teams from Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education.
While the seven college teams performed incredible routines that displayed control and grace, the spotlight was on Fairy Japan as they showed their dominance in ball – giving us a taste of just how they will perform at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021.
In the club and hoop events, in their sparkling red outfits, they strutted and leapt with an impressive choreography that reflects Japan’s four seasons whilst dancing to a modern take of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with Japanese drums in the background.
After the victory ceremony, SUGIMOTO Sayuri, team captain of Fairy Japan told Tokyo 2020 how they enjoyed participating in the test event.
“It was very easy to dance at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre, and the lighting was good. It was not difficult to see, so it was easy to dance,” the 25-year-old athlete said.
“In the past, we wanted to show you one big move in the performance, but now we try to put the big technique [every 2 or 2.5 seconds] and make [a good] impression for the whole two and a half minutes, and I hope you can see all the moves in both balls, hoop and club events.”
Sugimoto was also the team captain at the Rio 2016 Games which saw Japan finish eighth in the group all-around – their best result at an Olympic Games.
With Japan having booked their spot for the Games this summer, all eyes are on the team to secure the country’s first Olympic rhythmic gymnastics medal at their home Games.
At Tokyo 2020, Sugimoto will be joined by MATSUBARA Rie, NOSHITANI Sakura, SUZUKI Ayuka and TAKENAKA Nanami – the same team that won Japan a silver at the 2019 World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was the first medal for Japan in the group all-around competition after a 44-year drought.
Sugimoto said she is confident that they would be able to deliver come Games-time.
“I think the result will come in the end, so I will try my best to win the gold medal. We will try our best to give you some energy and power with our performance, so please support us.”
Sugimoto, who is known to train more than eight hours a day, started practising rhythmic gymnastics at the age of five after being influenced by an older sister to take up the sport.
READY STEADY TOKYO event
The test event was part of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committees’ preparations before the rhythmic gymnastics event kicks off at Tokyo 2020 in the summer of 2021.
It is one of the first series of Olympic test events which have been held in the past weeks, after diving and volleyball, that included athletes and media. A mixed zone was open to journalists to interview athletes after the event whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines as part of Tokyo 2020’s COVID-19 countermeasures. Other operational tests were also done to ensure the safety of the athletes.
“First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the many people who worked so hard to organise the test event in such a situation [COVID-19].
"The fact that we were the only Japanese teams to take part in the test event was a great advantage for us, and we were able to feel the atmosphere of the venue. I want to practise harder,” Sugimoto added.
The state-of-the-art Ariake Gymnastics Centre will be home to the sport between 6 and 8 August with the all-around finals concluded on the last day.