Hometown Heroine Beats Odds and will Represent Japan in London

The Modern Pentathlon Association of Japan today announced its national team for the upcoming London Games. Narumi Kurosu, along with team member Shino Yamanaka, will be the first Japanese women ever to compete in the event. Kurosu, a native of Ibaraki, almost had her Olympic dreams crushed in last year's earthquake and tsunami, but her determination and a little help from an unlikely source have secured a ticket to the Games.

Even as a child, Kurosu dreamed of competing in the Olympic modern pentathlon, a sport combining pistol shooting, fencing, 200m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a 3km cross-country run, a goal that had eluded her pentathlete father. She jogged 3km to school every day and even brushed her teeth left-handed to improve her fencing. She excelled in the sport over the years, and her prospects for competing in the London 2012 Games were good when the earthquake and tsunami struck her hometown in 2011.

Kurosu's training facilities were severely damaged and a replacement was not readily available in a country where there are only around 100 people practicing the sport. On the brink of losing hope, Kurosu received an unexpected invitation from experienced coach Jung Chil Park. Moved by her difficulties, in an especially heart-warming move, he volunteered to help her train in South Korea.

Ten days after the earthquake, Kurosu was in South Korea, enduring gruelling nine-hour daily training sessions with male pentathlon athletes and getting a crash course in Korean. Kurosu said: "By going to South Korea, I was able to train together with top athletes and grow mentally, and I've been producing better results since. I really look forward to competing in London, and I definitely want to put on a good show for the people of Ibaraki, as the place has been my home ever since I was born."

With Park's help, Kurosu secured a spot on the Japanese national team at May's Asia Oceania Championships 2011 in Chengdu, China. And now Kurosu looks as if she will put on a strong performance in London which will inspire youth back home and raise pentathlon's profile in Japan.

Kurosu's unusual path to the Olympics epitomises the Olympic Values of respect, friendship and excellence, and shows once again how sport connects diverse cultures and empowers people to overcome challenges. Showcasing this extraordinary power of sport is one of the goals of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic bid.

Kurosu said she would like to see the Games come to Tokyo in 2020: "I would absolutely love for Tokyo to host the 2020 Games. Without a doubt it would be an amazing experience to win a medal in my home country."

There will be 36 men and 36 women at the 100th anniversary of Modern Pentathlon at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a sport which first appeared at the Stockholm 1912 Games. The competition will take place on August 11 and 12, for men and women respectively, at three different Olympic venues: Copper Box for fencing; the Aquatic Centre for swimming; and Greenwich Park for riding and the combined event (running and shooting).
Press Conference Narumi Kurosu