Takeshita, the small setter who inspired a generation (and eventually claimed Olympic bronze)
London, Great Britain, August 11, 2012 – When she started playing volleyball, as a 10-year-old girl, Yoshie Takeshita could certainly not imagine that she would have been appointed to bring Japan back to the podium at the Olympic Games in London, 28 years after the bronze in Los Angeles.
She made it possible at Earls Court on Saturday by beating Korea after a great Olympic campaign, where she played at her best. She’s 34. Would it be possible to do it again in the future? “I have to rest, now. Then I would make my mind clear after London.”
Japan has been looking for a new setter for many years, to have at least someone able to replace her during the match with the same quality. But so far Yoshie is the only Japanese player who can set outstandingly well, jumping even from the back row to have the ball perfectly positioned in zone 4 for her wing spikers.
The best setter at the FIVB 2006 World Championships had not fully understood the huge meaning of Japan's achievement when exciting the court at the end of the match. When she saw the amount of journalists waiting for her quotes, she probably realized how heavy that bronze was. “To be honest, our generation did not know the exact honour of the bronze in Los Angeles; we didn’t live the glorious era of Japanese volleyball. Representing Japan is something very special and now we’re thinking about what we have made here in London. To be back on the podium is a great moment: it’s a fantastic achievement for our volleyball family.”
Even if she does not want to announce anything about her future, her eyes are looking far ahead: “We made it, we have to go and the younger generation should come now. We knew it before coming here.”
Amazing to say, they beat Korea almost without any blocks. When asked about it, she just raises her arms and laughs. “That’s really Japanese volleyball!”
Takeshita is the idol of all small players, who dream to play among the giants in the volleyball world of the stars. She is just 159 centimetres. If she decides to retire…is Japan going to lose their outstanding idol? Takeshita smiles while listening to the question. “Until now I have been doing my best and I believe I’ve sent already a good message to all the boys and girls in Japan.”
The last question before the awarding ceremony is to solve the last doubt of the contributer to Wikipedia. What does her nickname exactly mean “Tenn”? “It doesn’t have a specific meaning in our language. My colleagues at high school in Japan gave me this nickname and I still have it.”
And she walks proudly to the third step of the podium, followed ideally by millions of Japanese fans.