Yoichi Itokazu wins silver medal at World Weightlifting Championships, heralded as a “salvation for Japan”

Yoichi Itokazu wins silver medal at World Weightlifting Championships, heralded as a “salvation for Japan”

Yoichi Itokazu, who won a silver medal


December 1, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo


Day two of the World Weightlifting Championships was held on November 29 in Anaheim, CA. Yoichi Itokazu 26, who placed fourth at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the 62 kg class last year, won a silver medal in the total 299 kg category, the snatch 134 kg class and the jerk 165 kg class.

Itokazu is from Okinawa and currently affiliated with the Metropolitan Police Department after graduating from Tomishiro High School and Nihon University.

According to the Japan Weightlifting Association, it has been 36 years since a the last Japanese athlete medaled at a world championship in 1981.


Those involved in weight-lifting in Okinawa applaud Itokazu for winning a silver medal, commenting that, “ranking second in the world has significant meaning,” and, “getting a medal is such an accomplishment.”

Some share high expectations for the upcoming Olympic Games with the Japanese weight-lifter winning a medal for the first time in 36 years, saying, “He is going to be a salvation for Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”


Asatami Owan from Itoman City, an adviser for the Okinawa Weightlifting Association who has instructed Itokazu since he was in Kudaka Jr. High School and Tomishiro High School, told Itokazu “there is no meaning if there is no medals” to encourage him.

Owan commented, “Itokazu seemed to be relieved after he achieved a new record for Japan during the Rio Olympics.

Since having a strategy is crucial to gain medals, I encouraged him to refresh his mind and aim for medals. I’m glad that he performed as expected.”


Masahiro Kinjo, who currently teaches at the Miyuki Jr. High School in Ishikawa Prefecture, coached Itokazu during his second and third year at Tomishiro High School.

Kinjo praised his former student saying, “It was frustrating when he missed the chance to compete at the London Olympics, but he stood up in the face of adversity and ranked fourth at the Rio Olympics as well as second at the World Championships.

He is an athlete who can use frustration as an impetus to overcome hardships.”


Tsutomu Kawabata, the president of the Okinawa Weightlifting Association, watched the competition streaming online.

He was pleased with Itokazu’s performance in the big championship, commenting, “I’m really happy.

This proves how he continues training everyday.

It’s also inspiring for those of us who are involved in weightlifting.”


Senior athletes who competed at previous Olympic Games and World Championships were also excited about Itokazu receiving the silver medal.


Choji Taira, vice-president of the weightlifting association who ranked twelveth in the 1983 World Championships in the male 67.5 kg class and fifth at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, applauded Itokazu’s good performance.

He shares his expectation for Itokazu commenting that “Itokazu is a humble person, and his diligent efforts led to this result.

I hope he will strategically plan his training for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.”


Hisaya Yoshimoto, currently working at Higashi Village Office, competed in two consecutive Olympic Games: the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Yoshimoto also competed in the 1997 World Championships where he ranked fifth in the 108kg class.

He emphasized the significance of Itokazu’s accomplishment saying, “This medal means a lot.

He will be a savior for Japanese male athletes and influence other athletes too.”


Mari Taira, currently teaching at Okinawa Technical High School and who ranked seventh at the Sydney Olympic Games and fifth at the 1999 World Championships in the female 53kg class, excitedly commented that, “This is really a great accomplishment.

He grew as a national and international weight-lifter from Okinawa.

It’s a profound event. I think this is benchmark moment for him, and I hope that he will continue to develop more for the Tokyo Olympics.”


(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)


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