Japan's "godmother" of synchronized swimming Masayo
Imura is set to sign a contract to coach the Chinese team in the 2008 Beijing
Imura's decision has been the subject of much criticism in Japan, with many saying she is
betraying her country, even though China's General Administration of Sports has
kept a low profile of the decision, the China Youth Daily
The 56-year-old has
been coaching Japan's synchronized swimming team since 1978, helping Japanese
team win three golds, one silver and four bronze medals in Asian and Olympic
Games over the past 30 years.
Japan's internally-acclaimed coach in
synchronized swimming Masayo Imura said in the press conference that she
has accepted the invitation of heading Chinese synchronized swimming team
and was ready for signing a contract very soon in Japan, December 24, 2006
Imura officially announced her plan to become the head coach of the Chinese
synchronized swim team during the recently-concluded Doha Asian Games. The news
broke only days after China beat Japan, which had been the dominant power in
Asian synchronized swimming, in both the pair and team events at Asian
An anonymous officer didn't admit Masayo Imura has
already arrived in Beijing and began to consult with Chinese sports
administration on the contract until afternoon of Christmas day.
He further explained that the low-profile attitude was because of the
Japanese public's reaction to the new contract.
Imura held a press conference in Japan, clarifying that she is not helping
China to win against Japan, but would like to cultivate leadership to compete
against non-Asian dominant powers like Europe, America, and Australia in the
international synchronized swimming field.
"I believe Japan's international profile and leadership in the sport will
beneficial if a person from the country coaches the national team of an Olympic
host," Imura said.
Yu Li, a senior official with the General Administration of Sports
is critical of the constant reports on Imura's new contract.
"It is not the first time we have invited a foreign coach to coach the
national team, "Yu said. "Why are you all so interested in it this time?"
Yu hoped the media wouldn't exaggerate Imura's capabilities, for the new coach
is appointed to guide training irregularly.
"We didn't expect such a backlash from the Japanese
public," Yu said. "It's common for a foreign coach to coach Chinese national
"More importantly I'm concerned that so much coverage in the media
will affect the Chinese coaches' passion for their work," Yu said.
Another officer at the China swimming center said that
an agreement has yet to be reached.
The Chinese synchronized swimming team was previously
considering Canadian or Russian coaches, but the training programs they set were
not suitable for Chinese swimmers. The plan was thus delayed, another officer
told the newspaper.
Imura picked China above four other countries,
displaying a firm resolve to coach the Chinese team. Reporters will be invited
to watch the swim team's training programs to get a taste of Sino-Japan
Imura will head the national team soon, even though the
details are still under discussion, the officer said.