'Japan's mid-distance swimmers to shine at Tokyo 2020'
They had aimed to win "at least three golds" at the recent Fina World Championships in Hungary, but returned with none.
The Japan swim team, boasting the likes of men's 200m breaststroke world record holder Ippei Watanabe and teen sensation Rikako Ikee, won only four silvers and three bronzes.
It was arguably a poorer haul than their tally of two golds, two silvers and three bronzes at last year's Rio Olympics.
However, Tokyo Shigaibu Swim Club coach Yoshida Takahiro is backing his country's swim stars to shine in the middle distance events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Since Athens 2004, 16 of the 31 medals Japan have won at the Olympics have come from 200m events across the butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke.
"Because of the size and technique of Japanese swimmers, we don't have the power to do well in short- or long-distance events, but middle distance events are good for us," said the 44-year-old at the Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) yesterday.
Together with club head coach Yamada Hirofumi, 38, Takahiro has brought eight swimmers, aged 11 or 12, to compete at the CSC Super Junior Swimming Invitational at the club's premises today and tomorrow.
Takahiro said that Japan could do well in breaststroke and individual medley events, and relays such as the 400m medley and 800m free.
But, while the likes of Ikee and four-time Olympic gold medallist Kosuke Kitajima made their Olympic debuts at 16 and 17 respectively, Takahiro thinks there is "little chance" for his charges to compete in Tokyo 2020.
He said: "The majority of our top swimmers will be over 20 years old in 2020 and they (his club's swimmers) will have a good chance for 2024 instead."
A total of 548 swimmers from 39 clubs - including 14 foreign ones - will compete in the second edition of the junior meet this weekend.