Kimura plays last competitive match in Japan


Saori Kimura was captain of the Japan women's team

Yokohama, Japan, March 5, 2017 – Saori Kimura, who had previously announced that she would retire at the end of the season, played her last competitive volleyball game on Sunday.

Kimura’s career ended when her club team in Japan, Toray Arrows, was defeated 3-1 (20-25, 28-26, 25-22, 25-15) by NEC Red Rockets in a V. Premier League playoff match.

The 30-year-old, who made her first Olympic appearance in 2004 in Athens as a high school student, appeared in four straight Olympics including the 2012 London Games where the team won the bronze medal. 

Kimura, who is idolised in Japan, was captain of the Japan side at the Rio Olympics last year.

Kimura, who got married last year, is expected to hold a press conference at a later date and might appear in Japan’s All-Star game on March 25.

After the London Olympics, Kimura played in Turkey for two seasons before returning to Japan. 

On Sunday, Kimura had to leave the court after suffering from cramp.

“We made a really good start but couldn’t quite secure the points that were needed in the end,” said Kimura, who still managed to lead her team with 16 points. 
Despite her announcement to retire, her 25-year-old sister, Misato, who also plays for Toray, seemed to suggest her sister was leaving the door open to playing again.

“I couldn’t get the feeling from her that she was really quitting,” Misato said.