Japanese Haruka Kitaguchi Spears Historic World Gold

Yomiuri Shimbun
Haruka Kitaguchi celebrates after winning the women’s javelin at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Friday.

BUDAPEST – Down to the last attempt and in fourth place, Haruka Kitaguchi came up with the big throw she needed for a dramatic victory and a place in Japanese sporting history.

Kitaguchi won the women’s javelin at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest on Friday with a dramatic final throw of 66.73 meters, making her the first Japanese woman to win a world track and field or Olympic gold outside of the marathon.

“I’m strong when it comes to the last throw,” Kitaguchi said to herself before her last attempt.

With her victory, which added to the bronze medal she won last year in Eugene, Oregon, 25-year-old Kitaguchi met the criteria of the Japanese federation for selection to the Japanese team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Yomiuri Shimbun
Kitaguchi throws the javelin during Friday’s competition.

Kitaguchi’s gold was the first by a Japanese woman at the world championships since Hiromi Suzuki’s marathon victory in 1997 in Athens. It was the fifth overall at the world championship or the Olympics.

Kitaguchi gave Japan its second medal in Budapest after Masatora Kawano won bronze in the men’s 35km walk on Thursday.

On Friday, Kitaguchi was fourth with a best throw of 63.00m as she skated the winning attempt on her sixth and final attempt to edge out Colombia’s Flor Ruiz Hurtado for the silver medal.

Ruiz Hurtado led throughout the competition with a throw of 65.47 on her first attempt. Australian Mackenzie Little took the bronze for 63.38.

Kitaguchi, who trains in the Czech Republic under a Czech coach, entered Budapest as world No. 1 and set a Japanese record of 67.04 at the Poland meet in July.

It has been exactly 10 years since Kitaguchi started playing javelin in her first year at Asahikawa Higashi High School in Hokkaido. “I decided to do something no one else had done,” she said. “I am very happy to have achieved a result that no one else has achieved.”

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