Japan at the 1932 Summer Olympic Games
Japan produced many of the world’s best swimmers in the 1930s, and the country’s representatives at the 1932 Los Angeles Games left their competitors there with no doubts about who reigned supreme in the sport.
Among the seven Olympic golds won by Japan in 1932, five of them were in swimming. Of the 15 individual medals available for men in the sport, Japanese men secured 10 of them. Japan also seized the lone relay gold contested for men.
Additionally, the first Japanese woman to medal in swimming-breaststroker Hideko Maehata with a silver-did so in Los Angeles.
Japan also concluded its efforts at the Los Angeles Games with several medals in athletics, doing particularly well in men’s jump events.
The following list includes brief information on the Japanese men who were awarded golds for their performances in 1932:
Kusuo Kitamura: Kitamura was the 1500-meter freestyle champion in 1932. His victory was particularly noteworthy for the fact that he achieved it about two months shy of his 15th birthday, and he remains the youngest man to win an Olympic swimming gold.
Masaji Kiyokawa: Kiyokawa won the 100-meter backstroke in Los Angeles. He went on to take bronze in the same event four years later at the Berlin Games.
Yasuji Miyazaki: Miyazaki earned two swimming golds in 1932. His first title was in the 100-meter freestyle, while the second one was for a leg of Japan’s victorious 4×200 meter freestyle relay.
Chuhei Nambu: Nambu impressed with two medals in jump events in the Los Angeles Coliseum. He opened with bronze in the long jump, and then took gold in the triple jump. His winning distance in the latter was a new world record, and his mark stood as the best until 1935.
Takeichi Nishi: Nishi won an equestrian gold in the Individual Show Jumping competition. Nishi later became more famous for his role as a high-ranking Japanese Imperial Army officer during Japan’s defeat in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Yoshiyuki Tsuruta: Tsuruta won back-to-back golds in the 200-meter breaststroke between the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. He was enshrined in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968.
Men’s Swimming-4×200 meter Freestyle Relay: Japan’s foursome of Yasuji Miyazaki, Masanori Yusa, Takahashi Yokoyama, and Hisakichi Toyoda swam its way to relay gold. The quartet of Japan’s best swimmers did so in a convincing victory in world-record time over the other medalists, the U.S. and Hungary.
Patrick Hattman lived in Japan for more than a decade and continues to closely follow the country’s best athletes and team sports.