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What's the tech behind table tennis gold-medal winner Mizutani's indoor eyewear?

Mima Ito, left, and Jun Mizutani, right, are seen raising their voices after winning a point during their semifinal table tennis mixed doubles match, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on July, 25, 2021, in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)

TOKYO -- The gold-medal-winning performance of table tennis mixed doubles partners Mima Ito, 20, and Jun Mizutani, 32, isn't the only thing that caught attention during the event's first Olympic Games appearance; Mizutani's decision to wear sunglasses indoors during competition has also invited much interest.

    To find out why he would choose to wear sunglasses for indoor competition, and just what functionality they offer him, the Mainichi Shimbun went straight to their maker.

    According to Osaka based Yamamoto Kogaku Co., which developed the Swans brand of sunglasses worn by Mizutani, the table tennis player himself came to them to discuss eyewear that could reduce the glare from indoor LED lights. The company went about devising the glasses, and Mizutani has reportedly been wearing them for about a year now.

    The company used technology that adjusts light's wavelength, and developed lenses with an aim to "clearly reflect the object the wearer wants to focus on, while reducing glare."

    Table tennis mixed doubles partners Mima Ito, right, and Jun Mizutani -- wearing his special light-cutting glasses -- are seen at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on July, 24, 2021, in Tokyo. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)

    Takaharu Furukawa, 36, who won silver in the individual men's archery event at the 2012 London Olympics and bronze in team archery at Tokyo 2020, wears glasses utilizing the same technology to ensure he can better see the center of the target from 70 meters away.

    Mizutani's sunglasses are specially constructed with the frame at the bottom. Referred to as an under temple design, it keeps the glasses' center of gravity low to ensure they shake less. The technology was originally developed for long-distance runners. The model worn by Mizuki Noguchi, gold medal winner of the women's marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics, has since been refined and improved.

    On Twitter, Mizutani's eyewear became something of a trend, with users posting comments including, "It's amazing, they fit so well they don't move even a bit when he shouts," and, "They're too striking," and, "They're so cool!" A PR representative at Yamamoto Kogaku said, "We are very pleased to have engaged in an athlete's request, and to have been of help to their vision when playing."

    (Japanese original by Shohei Kawamura, Sports News Department)

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