World No. 5s Arisa Higashino and Yuta Watanabe feel that they have reached a level of maturity in their pairing and that the Olympic gold is within their reach. They have been a pair since they were in middle school and are entering into their tenth year as a pair.

In January 2018, Malaysian coach Jeremy Gan joined the Japanese coaching staff, who was put in charge of transforming Japanese mixed doubles into a recognizable force. This turned out to be a boon for the Higashino and Watanabe. Shortly after Gan’s joining, the pair won the 2018 All England Championships. They won the bronze at the 2019 World Championships.

Quoted by Yahoo Japan, Watanabe said, “I had a style of play where I was able to overwork my body and get to the point by using 100%. But that’s the limit.

“After Jeremy came, I was taught the importance of the opponents’ weaknesses and the importance of making the most of my partner.”

Talking about their Olympic chances, both the players said they were hopeful. Higashino said that she had been working to eliminate simple mistakes and maintain her speed. She also said she had been trying to improve her shot quality, the accuracy of her shots and how to read her opponents.

Watanabe said, “If we don’t level up on all fronts, the chances of winning a gold medal is not realistic. I will continue to be conscious of keeping up with my form.”