Speed skating-Kato and Nagashima seek gold this time

Wed Feb 5, 2014 3:50pm EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SOCHI (Reuters) - Speed skaters Joji Kato and Keiichiro Nagashima are once again eyeing 500 meters Olympic gold and Japanese fans are hoping it will not be another double disappointment.

Four years ago in Vancouver, Nagashima claimed 500m silver, while Kato had to settle for bronze as South Korean Mo Tae-bum skated his way to surprise glory.

They were financially rewarded by a motor manufacturer with more riches promised if they can realize their golden dreams.

Kato, a world champion and world record holder at 20, said on Wednesday his experience and varied training methods had left him feeling immensely confident of standing on top of the podium in Sochi.

"I haven't won gold medals at an Olympic Games yet so this is my greatest goal to win a gold medal this time," the 28-year-old told reporters through an interpreter.

"For many years I tried different ways of training and of course I have a lot of experience which I would like to use here in at the Olympics.

"If we speak about my confidence, I feel that this will be the event that I will be able to win and I cannot be wrong with this spirit."

A victory in a World Cup race in Salt Lake City in November has boosted his confidence although Nagashima remains the leading Japanese light over the distance this year.   Continued...

Joji Kato of Japan skates during a men's 500 metres speed skating training competition at the Adler Arena in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics, February 3, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato