From Tanaka’s near perfect pitching to Uchimura’s grace on the rings, it has been a great twelve months for Japanese sport. Here is our look at some of the pivotal moments that have defined 2013.
Japan becomes the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Shinji Kagawa (Man Utd) and Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow) win domestic titles in Europe. The Yokohama F. Marinos go down to the wire for the J-League title race, but Hiroshima Sanfrecce defend their title with a win against the Kashima Antlers this weekend.
A great year for Japanese pitchers. Masahiro Tanaka, who entered the record books for the most consecutive games won by a pitcher (30), helps the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first ever Japan Series title, while Koji Uehara throws the final pitch in the World Series for the victorious Boston Red Sox. Of course, Coco Balentien’s achievement will be one for the ages.
Four golds for Japan at the World Championships. Unsurprisingly “Superman” Kohei Uchimura claims two of them in the all-around event and on the parallel bars, Kohei Kameyama wins on the pommel horse, while teenage sensation Kenzo Shirai becomes the youngest ever winner on the floor.
19-year-old Daiya Seto comes home first in the 400m individual medley at the World Championships. There are also medals for Kosuke Hagino (2 silvers), Aya Terakawa (2 bronze medals) and the 4x100m medley relay team (bronze). Read the December issue on stands now or check the site later for our interview with Hagino.
Kimiko Date-Krumm becomes the oldest ever player to reach the 3rd round of Wimbledon. It’s been an up-and-down year for Kei Nishikori, who reaches a career best 4th Round at the French Open, but goes out in the 1st Round at Flushing Meadow.
Best of the Rest
A bronze medal for Kayoko Fukushi in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships. Yoshihide Kiryu becomes the fastest 17-year-old on the planet with a time of 10.01 in the 100m. Hideki Matsuyama finishes in the top 20 in three majors.
Sapporo hosts the ladies’ volleyball World Grand Prix where the Japan team finishes fourth. Figure-skater Mao Asada prepares for the Winter Olympics by winning the ISU Grand Prix in Tokyo.
Boxers Shinsuke Yamanaka and Takashi Uchiyama continue their domination in the bantamweight and super featherweight divisions, retaining their World titles while remaining unbeaten. The Japanese rugby team surprisingly defeats Six Nations Champions Wales.