Olympics: Japan eye record gold haul at Tokyo 2020

A staff walks by a board featuring logos of Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics sponsor companies in Tokyo. (AP)
Updated 13 October 2017
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Olympics: Japan eye record gold haul at Tokyo 2020

TOKYO: A senior Japanese Olympic official has called on the host country’s athletes to win a national-record 30 gold medals at the 2020 Summer Games, local media reported Friday.
Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) sports committee chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita backed home-grown competitors to more than double their haul of 12 golds at last year’s Rio Olympics, where Japan finished sixth in the medal table.
“I reckon we can aim to get 2.5 times the amount we did in Rio,” the former Olympic judo champion told local media, pointing to Japan’s recent success in gymnastics, table tennis and badminton.
“That’s just my personal opinion, not that of the technical committee,” added the 60-year-old Yamashita, who was Japan’s deputy chef de mission in Brazil.
“We will collect the relevant data and decide (the official target) hopefully by next summer.”
Yamashita, who won judo gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, also raised the hope that the host nation’s track athletes could deliver a surprise after a Japanese sprinter, Yoshihide Kiryu, finally broke the 10-second barrier last month after years of trying.
Japan’s previous best effort in terms of gold medals was as host of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and at the 2004 Athens Games, when they won 16.
Thirty golds would have put them above second-placed Britain’s 27 in Rio, but still a long way behind the table-topping US, who captured 46.
Yamashita was also bullish about Japan’s chances at next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, predicting nine medals overall.
The country’s previous best haul at a Winter Games was five gold medals and 10 in total as host of the Nagano Olympics in 1998.


Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Pakistan’s Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."