Masahiro Tanaka hopes Olympic gold medal will attract more kids to baseball in Japan

Masahiro Tanaka hopes Olympic gold medal will attract more kids to baseball in Japan
03/01/2022
The success at Tokyo 2020 was Japan's first-ever Olympic baseball gold medal, having claimed silver in Atlanta 1996 and bronze in Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004.

The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) published an interview with baseball Olympic gold medalist Masahiro Tanaka looking back at Japan's undefeated run through to gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Tanaka, who is affectionately referred to as Ma-Kun, played in one game, starting against USA in pool play, which Japan won 7-6 however the 33-year-old told the JOC that he was not happy about his performance.

"I came home frustrated. I thought I could do more for the team," the former NPB and MLB All-Star said. "I watched the final from the bullpen in case the manager needed me. I watched any other game I didn't pitch from the dugout."

However, Tanaka did express joy about being part of the Japan team to win Olympic gold on home soil. "I'm delighted by the gold medal. It is great to have been part of that team. I felt a sense of unity. It feels strange to say I was the oldest pitcher out there, but I can also add there were no boundaries between the older and the younger players.

"I think that we were able to do well what we had to do. We devoted ourselves to our own baseball and made no mistakes."

It was the first-ever Olympic baseball gold medal for Japan, having claimed silver in Atlanta 1996 and bronze in Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004. Japan became the fourth nation to win an Olympic gold medal, joining Cuba (1992, 1996, 2004), USA (2000) and Korea (2008).

Tanaka said he hopes the success at the Olympics will help attract more kids to baseball. "It is unfortunate that the number of parks where you can play with bats and balls is decreasing in Japan. I hope the Olympics will attract more kids. I also hope parents will take a chance to let their children try every sport and make their own choice."

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