Japan Set for Rich Medal Haul in Rio

By Reuters
February 05,2016
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Japan's flag bearer Saori Yoshida holds the national flag as she leads the contingent in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is on track to match its highest ever haul of gold medals at this year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to data and statistics company Infostrada Sports.

Japan's highest gold medal tally of 16 came at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 2004 Games in Athens.

The Asian country finished 11th in the last edition in London and Infostrada has predicted Japan will finish seventh and win 15 gold medals in Rio, including three for gymnast Kohei Uchimura.

"It is very possible that Japan could have their best Games in terms of medals," Simon Gleave, Infostrada Sports' head of analysis, told Kyodo News.

"We are projecting them only one medal below that, but with six months to go this could certainly change."

Japan's showing in Rio could be boosted by the uncertainty over the participation of Russia's athletics team due to their doping suspension. Britain is also unlikely to repeat its stellar show as hosts in 2012.

Japan has set a target of finishing third, a feat the country achieved in the 1964 and 1968 Games, by the 2020 Olympics but that may be out of their reach in Rio.

"I don't think it's feasible unless Russia completely collapses, which is not out of the question... Germany currently is in pole position, with the performances they are producing," Gleave said.

"It is possible that we are underestimating them. What Japan has to do is turn some of these predicted silver (10) and bronze (14) medals into gold."(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ed Osmond)