The 49-year-old Mikiyasu Tanaka was
appointed to the senior coaching position for
Japan's national team in 2001. His team's priority
is to qualify for Athens 2004 after Japan failed
to take part in the last two Olympic tournaments.
Two years ago, Tanaka's ambitious squad managed
only one win in the World League but finished
ninth at the World Championships in Argentina,
while last season a ninth place World Cup finish
and joint 13th in the World League
hardly did wonders for morale.
A former player of some pedigree, Tanaka
was a powerful force in the Japanese national team
from 1973 to 1986, and is still spoken about with
awe by the sport's aficionados. He was a member of
the team that finished fourth at the 1976 Montreal
Olympics, second at the 1977 World Cup and fourth
at the 1982 World Championship in Argentina. He
also made a major contribution to the successes of
his Nippon Steel Club, first as a player, later
(1985 - 1990) as player-manager before finally
becoming General Manager of the club. In 1992, he
was sent abroad by the Japan Olympic Committee to
study Volleyball in the United States and Italy.
He coached his country's junior team in 2000.