Olympics-Athletics-'I love all of Japan!' says manga-fan gold medallist Stano

SAPPORO, Japan, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Italian race walker Massimo Stano is a self-professed lover of Japan and its culture, so it is probably only fitting that his first major international victory came at the Tokyo Olympics.

Stano on Thursday captured gold in the men’s 20km race walk and proclaimed in Japanese, “Watashi wa Olympic champion desu!” (I am Olympic champion) as he crossed the finish line in the northern city of Sapporo, the venue for the event.

“I started Japanese in the last two years because I love Japan, I love anime, I love manga,” Stano told reporters after his triumph.

“I love Japanese, I love all of Japan. So I want to study Japanese because kanji, hiragana, katakana are beautiful,” he said, referring to the three writing systems used in the language.

Stano said it was his third stay in Japan after trips in 2018 and 2019 for training camps to test out conditions in the country.

The father of a six-month-old girl does not have any plans to uproot his family and relocate to Japan, but he certainly appeared to feel at home in the country.

“I feel a little bit Japanese,” Stano said. (Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Hugh Lawson)