Special Feature on the London 2012 Olympic Games

The 30th Olympic Games will be held in London, United Kingdom, from 27 July to 12 August.

Thirteen personnel from the Self-Defense Forces will participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games. In this feature, we will introduce the participating athletes.

Women’s wrestling -Freestyle (48kg)-
Captain, Hitomi Obara

Hitomi Obara

Born in 1981 in Aomori Prefecture, Captain Obara first took up wrestling as a member of Hachinohe Kids in Aomori Prefecture. In 1998, she won the 50kg category in the national high school championships. Although being a regular competitor in Asian and world championship games, she retired in 2008 without ever having competed in the Olympic Games. However, after her birth sister Makiko Sakamoto retired from the scene, she returned to the ring in the 48kg freestyle category.

Men’s wrestling -Freestyle (55kg)-
First Lieutenant, Shinichi Yumoto

Shinichi Yumoto

Born in 1984 in Wakayama Prefecture, First Lieutenant Yumoto had attracted attention since his days as a high school student. In addition to winning the national championships in the years from 2008 to 2010, he continued to push forward with his outstanding achievements, including taking home the Gold medal in the Asian championships in 2010. Even though he was injured prior to the Asia qualifying rounds, he brilliantly conquered them, earning his place as the Japanese representative in the 55kg freestyle category.

Men’s wrestling -Freestyle (66kg)-
Second Lieutenant, Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu

Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu

Born in 1986 in Yamanashi Prefecture, Second Lieutenant Yonemitsu came suddenly into the spotlight when he won the 66kg freestyle category in the national championships in 2008. He won in the Asian Games in 2010 and took a Silver medal in the world championships in 2011. He has successfully overcome his injuries, and much is expected of him in his current position as an ace in the world of men’s wrestling in Japan.

Men’s wrestling -Greco-Roman (66kg)-
Sergeant First Class, Tsutomu Fujimura

Tsutomu Fujimura

Born in 1982 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Sergeant First Class Fujimura switched to wrestling in high school despite having been a judo athlete up to junior high. He soon stood out among his peers, beginning with a win in the 2008 national championships. He also won a prize in the 2009 world championships. He is a formidable force, incomparable in Japan as a wrestler in the 66kg Greco-Roman style category.

Men’s boxing -Bantam (56kg)-
Second Lieutenant, Satoshi Shimizu

Satoshi Shimizu

Born in 1986 in Okayama Prefecture, Second Lieutenant Shimizu started out visiting to the boxing gym owned by a friend of his father’s from his junior high school days. He went to Kanzei High School, which is renowned for boxing club in Okayama prefecture. Thereafter, he entered Komazawa University, went smoothly on to achieve outstanding results in major competitions in Japan, and qualified for the former Beijing Olympic Games. He is a southpaw in the Bantam category.

Men’s boxing -Fly (52kg)-
Second Lieutenant, Katsuaki Susa

Katsuaki Susa

Born in 1984 in Fukushima Prefecture, Second Lieutenant Susa began boxing in his high school days, and first won the Bantam category in the 2005 national championships. He rejected invitations to become a professional boxer as he continued to pursue his dreams of competing in the Olympics. However, he did not pass the first qualifying rounds in the Beijing Olympics, and retired thereafter. In 2009, he made a comeback and is challenging the world in the Fly category.

Men’s boxing -Welter (69kg)-
Second Lieutenant, Yasuhiro Suzuki

Yasuhiro Suzuki

Born in 1987 in Hokkaido, Second Lieutenant Suzuki had attracted attention as a talented boxer at an early age, winning three consecutive competitions in the high school championships in his time as a student at the Hokkai Gakuen Sapporo High School. After joining the Self-Defense Forces, he switched to the Welter category, but was defeated in the third round of the world championships held in October 2011. However, as his opponent entered the finals, he was selected as a Japan’s boxer for the London Olympics in the Welter category.

Men’s Race walk -50km-
Sergeant First Class, Yuki Yamazaki

Yuki Yamazaki

Born in 1984 in Toyama Prefecture, Sergeant First Class Yamazaki had already been placed in the spotlight, setting the high school record for the 5000m race walk in Japan. While studying at Juntendo University, he had already earned a position as a representative in the Athens Olympics. He also placed seventh in the Beijing Olympics.London Olympics will be his third Olympics challenge for a valuable asset in the field of athletics in Japan.

Men’s swimming -200m Individual Medley-
Ensign, Ken Takakuwa

Ken Takakuwa

Born in 1985 in Shizuoka Prefecture, Ensign Takakuwa became acquainted with swimming soon after his birth at the swimming school where his father works as a swimming coach. Inspired by his senior, Ai Shibata, who had won a Gold medal in the Athens Olympics, he took on the challenge of competing in the Beijing Olympics. He passed the qualifiers and moved to the semi-finals, and finals, breaking Japanese records and ultimately placing fifth. He aims to take his first Gold in the London Olympic Games.

Men’s shooting -Rifle-
Sergeant First Class, Midori Yajima

Midori Yajima

Born in 1979 in Ibaraki Prefecture, Sergeant First Class Yajima joined the shooting club while studying at Makabe High School with aspirations of joining the Self-Defense Forces. After joining the SDF, he placed fifth for the shooting event in the 2010 Asian Games. In 2012, he won the Asian shooting championships and earned his place in the Olympic Games. In the London Olympics, he will be competing in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions, Rifle Prone, and 10m Air Rifle events.

Men’s modern pentathlon
Sergeant, Shinichi Tomii

Shinichi Tomii

Born in 1980 in Aichi Prefecture, he was originally known as a swimmer who had won the national junior high swimming championships. However, after he joined the Self-Defense Forces, he made the switch to the modern pentathlon event. Thereafter, he went on to win the national championships in 2007, and placed seventh in the World Cup held in Hungary in 2009. His athletic presence continues growing in Japan and overseas.

Women’s modern pentathlon
Leading Private, Shino Yamanaka

Shino Yamanaka

Born in 1990 in Kochi Prefecture, Leading Private Yamanaka had belonged in the athletics team while she was in high school. After graduating from high school, she joined the Self-Defense Forces, and thereafter took up modern pentathlon. Although she had had no experience with fencing and riding when she first began, she succeeded in earning a place in the Olympics after going through the Asia-Oceania championships, with only one year and seven months track record.

Women’s shooting -Pistol-
Reserve Sergeant First Class, Yukari Konishi

Yukari Konishi

Born in 1979 in Hokkaido, Reserve Sergeant First Class Konishi was observed to show signs of being a good marksman during target practice after her entry into the Self-Defense Forces, and was selected as a pistol athlete of the JSDF Physical Training School. After that, her talent blossomed, sending her into the Athens Olympic Games. She left the Self-Defense Forces in 2009 and became an SDF reserve personnel. In the 2010 world championships, she placed fourth, and became the first female Japanese athlete to be qualified for the London Olympic Games. She aims to win a medal, taking her advantage in the area of the rapid fire, which she excels at. She will be competing in the 10m Air Pistol and 25m Pistol events.

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