Olympics 2021: understand everything about softball, back after 13 years of absence

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Returning to the Olympic Games after a 13-year absence, softball, a derivative of baseball reserved for women in Tokyo, began on Wednesday.

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It is one of the first sports to have launched the Olympic campaign in Tokyo on Wednesday, even before the opening ceremony. Softball, a women’s counterpart to baseball, is making a comeback at the Olympics this year in Tokyo, 13 years after its last appearance. In Japan, where the sport is extremely popular, fans dream of a gold medal.

Throwing techniques differ

In spirit, the rules are very similar to baseball, which is also making a comeback at the Olympics this year, but only for men. Two teams of nine aim to score more points than their opponent, by hitting a ball with a bat as hard as possible, then running around a series of bases. If the batter manages to touch the “home plate” before the opposing catcher retrieves the ball he has tapped, he scores a point.

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The main point of divergence between the two sports is in the technique of throwing the ball: in baseball, the player throws over the shoulder, while in softball, the player throws under, at the moment. where the arm is extended at the hip. The material is not quite the same either: the bat has a smaller diameter and the ball is larger and softer in softball, which also gives the sport its name (“soft ball” literally meaning ” soft ball”). The terrain is also smaller, with reduced distances between bases.

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Japan dreams of medals

Founded in the United States at the end of the 19th century, softball was originally referred to as “indoor baseball”. Perceived as less physically demanding than its cousin, softball was quickly taken over by women across the Atlantic, eclipsing women’s baseball. The sport therefore entered the Games in 1996 in Atlanta, before being excluded from the list of Olympic sports at the same time as baseball, for lack of competitiveness, after 2008.

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Softball is therefore making a comeback after a short absence in Japan, where the local championship is full (excluding Covid of course) every weekend. On the archipelago, everyone is waiting for a revenge between the Japanese, titled in the last edition in 2008, and the Americans, triple reigning champions but beaten that year. So far, both teams have won their first two games. The final is scheduled for July 27.

Corentin Parbaud Journalist RMC Sport

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