More than 18,500 kilometers separate São Bernardo do Campo, a municipality in the ABC paulista where Hugo Hoyama, from Tokyo, was born. This does not prevent the former table tennis player from feeling at home in the host country of the eighth career Olympiad. In addition to being the grandson of Japanese, he spent ten months studying (and training) at Nihon Daigaku, Japan’s largest university, in 1985.
“The emotion is the same as being with the Brazilian delegation. For me it will be particularly special because it is in Japan, which is my second home. I am a descendant, I know the culture well, I learned a lot there and I have many friends”, said the former table tennis player to Brazil Agency.
Nine Olympic participations as athletes in a single photo
⭐ Ligia Silva – Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and London 2012
⭐ Hugo Hoyama – Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012
— CBTM (@CBTM_TM) July 5, 2021
In Brazil, few know what it is to represent the country in an Olympics like Hugo. In addition to the six editions he participated in as an athlete, between Barcelona (Spain), in 1992, and London (Great Britain), in 2012, he was coach of the Brazilian women’s table tennis team at the Rio de Janeiro Games, in 2016.
Five years later, Hugo is ahead of the women’s team. In Tokyo, he is responsible for a group similar to Rio 2016, with members Bruna Takahashi, Jessica Yamada and Caroline Kumahara, as well as Giulia Takahashi (Bruna’s sister) as alternate. Of the quartet, only Jessica and Giulia did not compete in Rio de Janeiro. The latter is only 16 years old, the same age at which her sister competed in the last Olympics.
“Giulia has been with us since acclimatization and [a experiência] it will be very important to her. I am very happy to have three athletes [titulares] very focused, responsible and disciplined. This makes me feel calm. They know that the preparation was not ideal [por conta da pandemia do novo coronavírus], but that was not ideal for almost any athlete. When you’re disciplined and focused, you overcome many things. I’m sure that’s what will happen”, said Hugo.
“They [Bruna, Jéssica e Caroline] they’re good in the game rhythm, they’ve finished the European season [de clubes] playing strong, many matches. When you stop acting, you lose rhythm. They had been playing. So, let’s get the best preparation possible to fight for a great result. We were able to arrive ten days earlier in Hamamatsu [cidade a 250 km de Tóquio]. This acclimatization is important mainly due to the time zone [diferença de 12 horas] and the climate, which is very hot”, he added.
The women’s team has been in Tokyo since last Tuesday (20th). Bruna Takahashi and Jessica Yamada will represent Brazil in the individual tournament, which starts this Saturday (24). The draw of the keys took place this Wednesday (21). Number 142 in the ranking of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), Jessica debuts in the first round against the Swiss Rachel Moret (87th). If he wins, he will face the Hungarian Georgina Pota (53rd). Bruna (48th) goes straight into the second round and will be the opponent of the winner of the duel between the Egyptian Yousra Helmy (101st) and the Chinese-French Jia Nan Yuan (95th).
Switching defined for Brazil in #Tokyo2020
— CBTM (@CBTM_TM) July 21, 2021
In the tournament for women’s teams, which brings together 16 countries and takes place between August 1st and 5th, Brazil will have a quarry right away: Hong Kong, the fifth best-placed team in the ITTF ranking. The Brazilians are in 19th place and have been accredited to dispute the pre-Olympic title in Lima (Peru) in 2019. If they beat the Asians, Hugo Hoyama’s commandees take Romania (seventh in the ranking) or Egypt (17th) in quarterfinals. In Rio 2016, the debut (with defeat) was against China, the nation with the most tradition in the sport.
“Those who know table tennis know that the great powers are Asian. China mainly, then Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. But I have a lot of confidence. In the individual, Bruna already starts with an advantage step for being one of the seeded ones, so beating a top-20, top-30 world athlete [seria um grande resultado]. Jessica, passing the first or second round, too. It will be difficult, but there are certainly chances”, analyzed Hugo.
“The focus is that they come in concentrated so that, if they have a chance to beat a high-level player, they will be prepared for it. And they are. It depends a lot on the day. I know this well from what I’ve lived in six Olympics [como jogador]. It depends on everyone at the table, me and the opponent”, concluded the former table tennis player, whose best Olympic campaign was ninth place in Atlanta (United States), in 1996, when he beat Swedish Jörgen Persson, world champion in 1991 .
+ Learn about the effectiveness of each vaccine against Covid-19