Saori Yoshida is maybe little known in the Volleyball community but she is one of Japan’s most decorated athletes: a double Olympic champion, Yoshida is a member of Japan’s wrestling national team and has clipped one of the most impressive winning streaks in that sport, with a series of 119 consecutive victories spanning from her international debut in 2002 up to shortly before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Yoshida was one of the VIP guests that attended the first match played by team Japan here in Nagoya and she definitely got thrilled by Volleyball: “I have already watched some games directly on site but this is the first time that I see the men in action” she revealed. “I love Volleyball; it is also some kind of a fight and in this sense very similar to my sport”. Yoshida started wrestling at the very tender age of 3 and is one of the stars that have contributed to the increasing popularity of freestyle wrestling in the country of the rising sun. Japan is actually a leading force in this sport, but curiously the ladies have been much more successful than the men by returning back with an impressive collection of medals from all international events held in the past 10 years. “Maybe you shall ask my coach why there is such a difference, but I guess it comes from the fact that girls start training very soon, so their technique is well developed, while most of the guys take up the sport only after starting their academic tuition or anyway in combination with their studies”.
Saori Yoshida was crowned world champion for the ninth time in the past 10 years only a couple of months ago in Istanbul and she says her ultimate goal is to go for a third consecutive gold medal at next year’s London Olympics. She will need that same strength that Japan men’s Volleyball team is longing for in order to pursue their Olympic dream. “Well, I have to admit that men’s Volleyball is extremely attractive. It is very fast and powerful, so for someone who comes from wrestling, this is certainly a very interesting experience. It was nice to be here tonight but feel sorry for our guys who finally could not score their first win” concluded Yoshida.
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Photography: Michael Bradley
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