Japan’s Open Water Championships took place over the weekend, with potential Tokyo 2020 qualification berths on the line for the men’s and women’s 10k.
Taking place on the Hojo Coast of Tateyama City, Chiba, Japan, the race offered an opportunity for the top 2 finishers of the respective men’s and women’s fields to earn a spot to compete at next year’s open water Olympic qualifying event. That event is also taking place in Japan, set for Fukuoka in May. although the exact date is to-be-determined.
The top 9 finishers in Fukuoka will qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, although there is a limit of just one athlete per nation. Then the next-best finisher from each continent will also qualify to ensure continental representation.
The open water Olympic qualifier in Fukuoka represents one of two ways athletes can qualify for the 2020 Olympics. The other possible qualification opportunity came at this summer’s World Championships where the top 10 male and female finishers earned Olympic spots. Japan was well off that placement, however, with Yumi Kida representing the women’s highest finisher in 22nd place, while Takeshi Toyoda claimed the highest finish for the men in 39th.
Both Kida and Toyoda came out on top at these Japanese Open Water Championships, giving them another shot at Olympic qualifying. Accompanying them to Fukuoka next year will be the runners-up this past weekend, Taishin Minamide for the men and Minami Nikura for the women.
The race was held despite the Hojo Coast bearing residual effects of typhoons hitting elsewhere in Japan. Choppy waters, rough waves, and strong winds were felt throughout the race, giving the open water swimmers the extra satisfaction of having made it to the finish with placement worthy of continuing on their Tokyo quest.
Translation assistance provided by Rebecca Nishikawa- Roy.