On your mark: Japanese athletes locked in on Tokyo 2020 with trials in rearview mirror

Japanese athletes who qualified through the national championships in Osaka strike a pose on Monday (28 June), a night after the completion of the Olympic trials.
Japanese athletes who qualified through the national championships in Osaka strike a pose on Monday (28 June), a night after the completion of the Olympic trials.

Seventeen qualify through national championships in Osaka with squad to be completed on Friday based on World Athletics rankings.

Just a night after the trials, they were already in Games mode.

Qualified Japanese athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games quickly turned their sights to the summer on Monday (28 June), speaking of their anticipation of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"Last year around May I kind of had the blues", said long jumper HASHIOKA Yuki, who is on his way to his first Games after capturing his fourth title at the four-day national championships in Osaka.

"I realise the Games will be held in very challenging circumstances but now, I'm really looking forward to it. I've had a year to build up the excitement.

"For an athlete to have the opportunity to compete in an Olympics in your own country, it almost never happens. I think this will be a make-or-break moment for my future career".

Of the 17 who clinched a berth at the 23 July - 8 August Games during the championships which doubled as a qualifier, only two have Olympic experience - YAMAGATA Ryota (London 2012, Rio 2016) in the men's 100m and NIIYA Hitomi (London 2012) in the women's 5,000m.

Through various qualifying events, 20 others had previously punched their tickets including OSAKO Suguru (men's marathon) and TANAKA Nozomi (women's 5,000m).

On Friday, the Japan Association of Athletics Federations is expected to fill out the list when World Athletics finalises its rankings.

The big decision will be who joins Yamagata and TADA Shuhei in the men's 100m and 200m, from which the men's 4x100m relay team will be comprised.

The JAAF is targeting a gold medal in the event after netting silver at Rio 2016.

"It's nice to be able to exhale after a tough trials. I've been competing at the nationals for around 10 years and this was the most intense", said Japan record-holder Yamagata, who is looking to become the first Japanese man to reach the 100 final since Los Angeles 1932.

"This will be my third Games. I haven't decided how long I want to compete for but I am 29 and I want results in Tokyo.

"I want them more than ever".

Athletes qualified through the 24-27 June national championships in Osaka

Men's team

100m: TADA Shuhei, YAMAGATA Ryota

200m: KOIKE Yuki

3,000m SC: MIURA Ryuji, YAMAGUCHI Kosei, AOKI Ryoma

110m H: IZUMIYA Shunsuke, KANAI Taioh, TAKAYAMA Shunya

400m H: KUROKAWA Kazuki, ABE Takatoshi

Long jump: HASHIOKA Yuki, TSUHA Hibiki, SHIROYAMA Shotaro

Women's team

5,000m: HIRONAKA Ririka, NIIYA Hitomi

Javelin: KITAGUCHI Haruka