World javelin champion Haruka Kitaguchi is keen to reap the rewards of her early qualification to the Paris Olympics, training at her own pace at her Czech Republic training base.

The 25-year-old twice rewrote national records in 2023. In August in Budapest, she qualified for Paris and became Japan's first woman world athletics championships gold medalist in an event other than the marathon.

Japan's javelin thrower Haruka Kitaguchi (L) and coach David Sekerak poses for a photo after Kitaguchi was honored by the town of Domazlice in the Czech Republic on Jan. 25, 2024. (Kyodo)

"It'd be great if I can win the gold medal in Paris, but it won't be easy," Kitaguchi told Kyodo News recently.

"(Having already booked the Paris spot) I can prepare without being fixated about qualification standards, and relax while analyzing my rivals' progress."

She began her Olympic preparation in Japan in November, but returned to Domazlice in early January, going through two sessions a day under 49-year-old coach David Sekerak.

"The biggest thing is getting feedback straight away. The training has been better," Kitaguchi said.

Kitaguchi hurled herself into the limelight in Japan last year, but is also making a name for herself in the Czech Republic.

A fluent Czech speaker, she has been honored by Domazlice for raising the town's profile and promoting sports, and was interviewed on Czech television.

"It's rare for overseas athletes to be covered by Czech television, so I'm really happy," said Kitaguchi, who marvels at her 2019 decision to move here, when she was unable to understand what people said in training.

"I'm not sure if I could do something so assertive now. I worked really hard at the time, and thanks to that many people are paying attention to me. I'm a Japanese athlete but have been able to operate beyond Japan's typical boundaries."

Japan's javelin thrower Haruka Kitaguchi (R) trains alongside coach David Sekerak in Domazlice, the Czech Republic, on Jan. 24, 2024. (Kyodo)

In September, Kitaguchi became the first Japanese to win a Diamond League season championship. She is looking to make her Olympic year debut in April at the athletics series' second event in Suzhou, China.

After finishing 12th in her Olympic debut in 2021, Kitaguchi is ready to apply in Paris her lessons from three years ago.

"I need to stay strong. I know from last time that other throwers become more intense at the Olympics," she said.

"But it's important not to think I have to do something different just because of that. I feel it's best if I can express my own self."

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