The Secret of Nao Kodaira’s Excellence
After Nao Kodaira won Olympic gold in 500 m speed skating, she became the first Japanese woman who did that. However, her success at Olympics was rather expected if to have a look at her performances at other speed skating competitions.
Nao Kodaira was born on May 26, 1986, in Chino, Nagano, Japan. She tried to skate for the first time at the age of 3, being influenced by her sisters. Besides medals and titles, Nao also gained many other awards, including the Chino Citizen Honorary Award, Special Achievements Award by the JOC, Excellence Award by the JOC and Chunichi Athletics Award. Now, let’s have a closer look at the athlete’s career achievements.
At 2014/15 World Single Distance Championships, Nao Kodaira became a bronze medalist in 2 x 500m. In 2016/17 season, she became a gold medalist in 500 m and a silver medalist in 1000 m. The victory in 500 m made Kodaira the first Japanese woman to win an individual single distance world title. The same season, she became an overall winner of the World Sprint Championships.
Kodaira debuted at the World Cup in 2006/07 season. She reached her first podium the same season, being a bronze medalist in 1000 m in Nagano. She claimed her first World Cup gold in 2014/15, after being the best in 500 m.
In total, at the World Cup events, the Japanese speed skater earned 24 gold, 14 silver and 18 bronze medals. She was 2-time title-holder in 500 m in 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons.
Moreover, Nao won gold in 1500 m and bronze in 1000 m at 2009 Winter Universiade as well as a silver medal in 1000 m in 2007. She is also a gold medalist of 2017 Asian Winter Games in 500 m and 1000 m and a bronze medalist of the 2011 Asian Winter Games in 1500 m.
2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver were the first ones in Kodaira’s career. She became a silver medalist in the team pursuit event. She was also 12th in 500 m, 5th in 1000 m and 1500 m. At 2014 Sochi Olympics, the speed skater didn’t gain any medal. She was 5th in 500 m and 13th in 1000 m.
To the date, 2018 PyeongChang Olympics are the most successful in Nao’s career. She claimed gold in 500 m. She finished the race in 36.94, setting the track and Olympic record. The athlete won one more medal, silver in 1000 m. In 1500 m, she finished 6th.
Here are the best results of Nao Kodaira at international competitions:
500 m – 36.50 (8 December 2017, Salt Lake City)
1000 m – 1:12.09 (10 December 2017, Salt Lake City)
1500 m – 1:55.40 (19 February, 2011, Salt Lake City)
3000 m – 4:21.53 (22 October 2010, Nagano)
So, what's the secret of Nao Kodaira’s excellence? We can surely state that it’s a combination of fantastic talent and hard work. The speed skater trains a lot and never stops to develop her skills.