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Speed skating: Oda wins ticket to Pyeongchang in men's 1,500

Takuro Oda (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Takuro Oda earned a spot on Japan's Pyeongchang Winter Olympic team when he cruised to victory in the men's 1,500 meters at a qualifying meet Friday.

    The 25-year-old won the race in 1 minute, 45.91 seconds, while Shane Williamson was 1.06 second behind. Shota Nakamura took third.

    Oda competed in his first World Cup event while still attending high school, but missed his chance to compete at the 2014 Sochi Olympics as he did not perform well in college.

    "I've been spending all of my time on skating," Oda said. "I've been training so I'd finish somewhere around 1 minute, 45 seconds. I was confident."

    In the women's 1,500, Nao Kodaira booked a spot in February's Winter Games after finishing runner-up to Miho Takagi, who won the race in 1:54.82. Ayaka Kikuchi settled for third.

    Takagi, who is unbeaten in this season's 1,500-meter races at World Cup meets, said she was confident that she would win.

    "I couldn't imagine myself losing," Takagi said. "But I still don't think I can win the (gold) medal for sure. I want to make a stronger effort."

    Kodaira has claimed spots in the 500 and 1,000 meters, and Takagi has already qualified for the event.

    The official entry list of 10 female skaters and eight male skaters will be announced Saturday, the final day of the meet.

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