YOG gold medallist Yuka Sato wins first national title and sets sights on Tokyo 2020
Japanese triathlete and first-ever Youth Olympic Games gold medallist Yuka Sato claimed her first national championship on Sunday at the 20th Triathlon National Championships in Tokyo Bay Odaiba, the proposed triathlon venue for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With the crowd supporting her in their thousands, Sato quickly set the pace as the first of the 54 athletes out of the water. Into the bike section, Sato joined a group of seven early on which went on to create a 30-second gap away from the chase group, which included two-time Olympian and 2014 Asian Games Champion Ai Ueda. While Ueda clocked the fastest lap in the final 10k run and tried to close the gap, 22-year-old Sato was strong enough to edge out the runner-up.
Sato said, "I am extremely happy to win this national title today. It was my eighth attempt since I first participated in this race when I was 15, and I finally made it! I promise to stay focused on my training and come back to the top of this podium next year. And, of course, I want to achieve my dream to compete in the Olympic Games, here on my home turf, Tokyo 2020!"
Sato became the first-ever Youth Olympic Games champion at the inaugural event in Singapore in 2010 when she was 18 years old. While the Japanese women's field was too tough to clinch an Olympic place for London 2012, Sato has been regularly competing in the ITU's top-tier World Triathlon Series, with her eyes on Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.