Updated: Wednesday, 12 February 2014 15:51 | By Agence France-Presse

Japan hails ski jumper Takanashi despite disappointment

Home supporters of ski-jumping also-ran Sara Takanashi were putting on a brave face Wednesday after the local youngster, who was seen as a definite gold in Sochi, missed out on the medals entirely.

Japan hails ski jumper Takanashi despite disappointment

Japan's Sara Takanashi competes in the women's Ski Jumping Normal Hill Individual Trial at the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 11, 2014 - by Peter Parks

In her home town of Kamikawa in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, some 300 residents had gathered at an auditorium in the small hours to cheer on one of their own. 

Residents chanted "Sara, Sara" as the 17-year-old World Cup leader made her bid to be crowned the first ever winner in women's ski jumping at the Olympics.

But the baby-faced teen, who had been firm favourite around the world, finished in fourth place after two jumps on the normal hill.

Germany's Carina Vogt took gold, followed by Austrian favourite Daniela Iraschko-Stolz and French jumper Coline Mattel.

"I cried. Other people cried too. I couldn't help it," said Masashi Nakamura, 67, who is one of the organisers of a group supporting Takanashi in her neighbourhood.

"I think fourth place is a great finish. She is fourth in the world," he told AFP.

The group cancelled a victory party and some 100 rounds of fireworks until her return, Nakamura said.

People in the area now had their sights on the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, said Kaoru Saito, a Kamikawa town official.

"She said in the post-jump interview that she was resolved to return to the Olympics in four years' time. Kamikawa residents hope and believe that she will win and take the gold medal," he said.

Town mayor Yoshiji Sato was in Sochi to watch Takanashi's performance.

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