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Survey shows Japan’s favorite sports for Tokyo Olympics

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Japanese men and women are most interested in swimming, gymnastics and the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics, according to a survey published Friday.

The survey, conducted in April with 1,207 responses from men and women 20 years and older, according to Kyodo News, revealed the following favorite sports for the 2020 Tokyo Games:

  1. Swimming
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Track and Field (Marathon)
  4. Baseball/Softball
  5. Table Tennis
  6. Soccer
  7. Judo
  8. Volleyball
  9. Track and Field (Non-Marathon)
  10. Tennis

Japan has a history of success in many of those sports.

Kosuke Kitajima is regarded by many as the greatest breaststroker in history after sweeping the 100m and 200m at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Before winning any Olympic medals, Kitajima was invited to the Imperial Palace to meet Emperor Akihito. He later moved to Los Angeles to get away from the celebrity lifestyle in Japan.

Japan has active star swimmers in Kosuke Hagino, who won the 400m individual medley in Rio, and Rikako Ikee, a promising 17-year-old sprint freestyler and butterflier.

Japan is also home to the man regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time — Kohei Uchimura, who won all eight Olympic and world all-around titles from 2009 through 2016. Japan once had a men’s gymnastics dynasty — winning every Olympic team title from 1960 through 1976 — and captured team gold in 2004 and 2016.

Some of Japan’s most memorable Olympic moments came in the marathon —Koichi Morishita‘s silver medal in 1992 and then Naoko Takahashi and Mizuki Noguchi‘s back-to-back women’s marathon gold medals in 2000 and 2004.

Japan won the last Olympic softball title in 2008, upsetting the U.S. in the final. Baseball and softball return to the Olympics in 2020 for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games and are not guaranteed to remain on the Olympic program beyond Tokyo.

The survey also asked respondents to name their favorite athletes, foreign or domestic, with the following results:

1. Shohei Ohtani (Baseball)
2. Ichiro (Baseball)
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (Figure Skating)
4. Kei Nishikori (Tennis)
5. Mao Asada (Figure Skating, retired)
6. Shigeo Nagashima (Baseball, retired)
7. Hideki Matsuyama (Golf)
8. Hayato Sakamoto (Baseball)
8. Hideki Matsui (Baseball, retired)
10. Senichi Hoshino (Baseball, died in January at age 70)

Of those athletes, Nishikori, Matsuyama and Sakamoto could compete in the Tokyo Olympics. MLB players, like Ohtani, are not expected to debut in the Olympics in 2020.

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MORE: Will Japan’s Olympic legend return for Tokyo 2020?

David Ortiz rips off jersey, reveals ‘Girl Power’ shirt with Aly Raisman

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Seven Winter Olympians and Paralympians threw ceremonial first pitches at the Boston Red Sox home opener Thursday, but it’s what happened with a Summer Olympian moments later that created buzz.

Red Sox legend David Ortiz and six-time Olympic gymnastics medalist Aly Raisman took the field to yell “Play Ball!” at Fenway Park.

Before taking the mic, Ortiz ripped open his white jersey to reveal a black T-shirt with the words “GIRL POWER” in white.

Ortiz and Raisman have been friends since Raisman threw a ceremonial first pitch at an August 2012 Red Sox game following her first Olympics in London.

Raisman, a native of Needham, Mass., has attended a gala and golf tournament benefitting Ortiz’s children’s charity and a 2015 Christmas Eve gathering at Ortiz’s home.

Raisman threw another first pitch at an August 2016 Red Sox game, where Ortiz famously wore her medals.

The PyeongChang Olympians and Paralympians who threw first pitches Thursday were reportedly hockey players Kacey Bellamy, Brianna DeckerMeghan Duggan and Amanda Pelkey, Nordic skiers Jake Adicoff and Dan Cnossen and luger Chris Mazdzer.

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VIDEO: U.S. curler throws first pitch to wrong catcher

U.S. curler throws first pitch to wrong catcher (video)

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The U.S. men’s curling team had an inspiring run to gold in PyeongChang. Collectively, their ceremonial first pitches at the Minnesota Twins’ home opener on Thursday were not as impressive.

The five team members lined up in a row from right of the pitcher’s mound to its left. In order: alternate Joe Polo, skip John Shuster, vice skip Tyler George, second Matt Hamilton and lead John Landsteiner.

Polo was fine. He threw a strike. Now, for everyone else:

Shuster airmailed his, but it looked worse because his catcher had to duck out of the way of George’s errant throw that went to the wrong Twins player. Hamilton didn’t risk bodily harm, rolling his ball along the grass like a curling stone. Landsteiner threw a floater.

All team members are from Minnesota except Hamilton, who is from Wisconsin. Shuster attended Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

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MORE: Top moments from Team USA’s run to curling gold