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Olympics-Volleyball-Nishida putting his body on the line for Japan

·2-min read

By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) - Yuji Nishida has been the driving force for Japan in men's volleyball at the Olympics but the outside spiker said on Tuesday that he has playing through two injuries to give the hosts a fighting chance.

Nishida had a quiet game against Venezuela with eight points but exploded for 23 points in Monday's comeback win over Canada as Japan topped Pool A.

The 21-year-old sprained his ankle this year and suffered a thigh muscle injury during the team's Nations League campaign which ended last month.

"I'm not fully recovered (from the thigh injury) and I'm still in a bit of pain. But more than that, it's the Olympics and I'm determined to fight, even if I have to push my body very hard," Nishida told reporters.

"I thought I should perform well for the people who have supported me, which would help the team, so I concentrated on getting a win (against Canada)."

Nishida said he was still playing at about "70%" of his best but Japan coach Yuichi Nakagaichi was pleased he could take out some of the frustration of those injuries against Canada.

"He was working very hard, I was hoping that somehow his hard work would pay off and he would be able to play more comfortably. And now Nishida is back," Nakagaichi said.

Japan, ranked 11th in the world, have not won an Olympic volleyball medal since they took gold in 1972 but captain Yuki Ishikawa is seeking inspiration from other Japanese athletes.

Japan have won nine gold medals at the Games, in sports including judo and skateboarding.

"They motivated us and they made us want to put on a great performance on such a stage," Ishikawa said.

"Other teams such as basketball and women's volleyball are also performing to the best of their ability, which also inspired us."

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo, Writing by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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