TOKYO (June 12) – Reigning world and Olympic champion Saori Yoshida received the Japanese Olympic Committee's athlete of the year award for fiscal 2010 at ceremonies in Tokyo.
Yoshida won her eighth straight world championship crown in 2010 and will aiming for No. 9 at the world meet in Istanbul in September. Istanbul will also serve as the first round of qualification for next year's Olympic Games in London, where Yoshida will target a third straight gold medal.
Yoshida is the first wrestler to receive the “most outstanding” JOC prize as athlete of the year, although she has been recognized with the “outstanding” award in 2002, 2004 and 2005.
The JOC awards recognize the top athletes and coaches of the JOC-affiliated sports federations for outstanding results achieved during the previous year.
Winners of the “outstanding JOC” award included shooting world champion Tomoyuki Matsuda, the first athlete to qualify for Japan's 2012 Olympic team, two-time men's gymnastics all-around world champion Kohei Uchimura, and women's double judo world champion Mika Sugimoto.
Sprinter Shota Iizuka, Japan's first-ever gold medalist at the junior athletics world championships in the men's 200 meters, was presented the JOC newcomers award.