【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue】

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics from July 23, 2021 onward.
In Hokkaido, Sapporo will host the marathon, race walking, and football events.
These articles bring you the feelings and reactions of Hokkaido residents.

Aug. 9

Special feature

【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue (9)】 Three Sapporo athletes contribute to Silver in Women’s Basketball

Rui Machida (front left), Nanako Todo (front right) and Moeko Nagaoka (rear right) smiling as they pose for pictures with their silver medals

In the Women’s Basketball Final on the last day of the Tokyo Olympic Games on August 8, Japan were beaten 75-90 by USA – who were aiming for their 7th consecutive title – to take the silver medal. After the match, Rui Machida (28) of Fujitsu; Moeko Nagaoka (27) of Toyota Motors; and Nanako Todo (20) of Toyota Boshoku – who all played for Sapporo Yamanote Sr. High School, one of the strongest high-school teams in the country – shed tears of regret for not having won, while smiling with satisfaction for becoming Japan’s first-ever medalists in the event.

“We lost but we won a medal, and feel we did our best to the end,” said Machida. At just 162 cm tall, the smallest player among all 8 teams that competed in the quarter finals, Machida’s dribbling and passing that led the way to the hoop gave her an outstanding presence. Starting all 6 matches, Machida made 75 assists, the most of any player among all 12 competing teams. In the quarter-final, she recorded 18 assists, an Olympic record for one game.

The floor and walls of the living room in her family home were badly damaged as they were hit by the ball several hundred times each day as Machida used the walls as a target. Ever improving her dribbling and passing, she considered them “My way of life; I would not lose to anyone.”

Machida writes the contents of her daily training routines in her diary. In an old notebook from back in her high-school days, this is written: “No matter how good the soil is on which you sow the seeds, without effort, the flowers will never blossom.” In Tokyo, they were in full bloom.

After the match, Machida hugged Nagaoka, who was one year her junior during high school, saying “well done”.

Nagaoka failed to start a match at her debut games at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but won her place in Tokyo. At a vital point during the first match of the qualifying round, she sank a 3-point shot to win the game. In the final tournament, for tactical reasons, Nagaoka started on the bench, but kept her individual feelings of disappointment to herself as she thought of those who had not made the cut for the national team. “It was for all the members who had fought so hard to get to where we were.” With that in mind, and the focus on the required defense and rebounds, she was proud to have “made a new point in history”.

At the time of the Rio Olympic Games, Todo was in first grade at Yamanote High School. She cheered-on Machida and Nagaoka through the TV screen and continued to practice daily as she “wanted to stand on that stage”. Her efforts were rewarded 5 years later in Tokyo. In the final, Todo and Nagaoka surrounded their opponents and stole the ball. At the end, they hugged with Machida. “All this is down to learning the basics at Yamanote. I hope that was conveyed in out play.” At the medal ceremony, the silver medal at which everyone stared so fondly, will surely shine so brightly in the eyes of those who will lead the next generation of players.

Special feature

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