There are no crowds cheering on Yoshihiro Yamazono's gold medal quest, but the 70-year-old farmer has shown a dedication and endurance worthy of any Olympian.
For the past 26 years, Yamazono has been working to grow the world's tallest sunflowers, and this year's crop of four reaches an astounding 7 meters tall, just shy of record-worthy. To put his accomplishment in perspective, "regular" giant sunflowers average a mere 2-3 meters tall.
But Yamazono is aiming higher still. Once he gets a plant that tops 8 meters, he said, he will apply for an entry in Guinness World Records.
Yamazono raises the sunflowers on his farm in Kaizuka, Osaka Prefecture, as a hobby, and each year, he collects seeds from the tallest sunflower on his farm to sow the next crop.
And though this year's plants fell short of the mark, Yamazono is optimistic that he won't have to wait four years for his next shot.
"I want to win a 'gold medal' next year," he said.
He will harvest this year's most promising seeds in late August for his next try.
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