Swimming Team gives Gold Medal to Tokyo 2016 at FINA World Championships

Tokyo, 3 August 2009 – The Winning Japan Swimming Team gathered yesterday to express their unanimous support for Tokyo 2016’s athlete-focused Games Bid after successfully completing the 13th FINA World Championships with an impressive four medals overall. The gathering of the young generation of Japanese elite swimmers, was held just before the announcement of the sad loss of Hironoshin Furuhashi, Japan swimming legend and best-ever sportsman, known as “the Flying Fish of Fujiyama”.

Boosted by its inspiring presence and passionate fans in Rome this week, the young generation of swimmers carried the torch of Japanese swimming. Revealed as this week’s hero was 22 year-old Junya Koga, who won the Gold and Silver medals in the men’s 50-meter and 100-meter backstroke while teammates Ryusuke Irie won the Silver medal on the 200-meter backstroke and Takeshi Matsuda the Bronze in the 200-meter butterfly race.

The entire Japanese swimming team expressed its support for the national effort to bring the 2016 Games to the heart of Japan’s dynamic capital, and its collective desire to perform in front of the nation’s passionate fans. Tokyo 2016’s innovative Games plan includes a brand-new aquatic centre with 20,000 seats, which will create an amazing atmosphere during the Games and spur elite athletes on to incredible Olympic and Paralympic performances. The centre will also form part of Tokyo 2016’s unique, sustainable legacy, creating future generations of swimming heroes.

The last day of FINA World Championships was touched by mourning yesterday as World legend and Japanese freestyle swimmer, Hironoshin Furuhashi died at 80 in Rome, where he was attending the FINA World Championships. Furuhashi set several world records, particularly impressive among them were the three world records he beat when invited to the US national championships in 1949. At that time he was given the nickname, the “Flying Fish of Fujiyama”. He then served as the chairman of the Japan Olympic Committee and vice-chairman of the world’s swimming governing body, FINA. He was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by the government last year, becoming the first athlete to receive the honour.

Dr. Ichiro Kono, Chair and CEO of Tokyo 2016, reacted to the loss of Furuhashi by extending his deepest condolences to his family and friends. He said:
“Mr Furuhashi was a legend in Japan. He was our greatest ever sportsman and his incredible sporting achievements that brought hope and inspiration to millions of people will live on.

“People around the world still vividly remember Mr Furuhashi’s greatest performance, when he set an amazing three swimming world records for 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle at the 1949 USA National Championships. Local newspapers named him the ‘Flying Fish of Fujiyama’, and he became a symbolic figure of courage and pride for all Japanese, representing a rising sun in post-war Japan.

“We were humbled by Mr Furuhashi’s active support for our Tokyo 2016 Olympic Bid. Even during the FINA Swimming World Championships we talked every day and he kept encouraging us to push forward.

“Knowing that the ‘Flying Fish of Fujiyama’ was at our side gave us great confidence that we could achieve our nation’s ultimate dream, to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now with his memory and passion in our hearts, we will do everything in our power to secure an Olympic legacy that would make him proud.”

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For further information, please contact:

Masa Takaya (Mr), Manager, International Communications, Tokyo 2016
+81-3-5320-2480, +81-90-6548-6102, masanori.takaya@tokyo2016.or.jp