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Ogata Promises Medal to Hometown Supporters

http://mainichi.jp/area/hiroshima/news/20080710ddlk34050608000c.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080709-00000034-nks_fl-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Beijing Olympics men`s marathon runner Tsuyoshi Ogata (35, Team Chugoku Denryoku) gave a speech at the Kumanomachi Civic Sports Center in his hometown of Kumanomachi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on July 9th. The 2005 Helsinki World Championships marathon bronze medalist told the crowd of 574 supporters, "All of my training has been with the single thought of `Let's get a medal.` If I get there feeling my best then I have a chance."

The event included a performance by the popular group Moebius of a song they had written to show their support for Ogata. Kumano High School 1st-year student Yuki Nidan (16) spoke on behalf of the school`s track and field team, saying, "We`re all waiting for you to bring the best-colored of all the medals back here." Kumano Junior High School 3rd-year student Yoshin Maeda (15) likewise gave a speech on behalf of his team, telling Ogata, "We always get courage and motivation from watching your running. When we think of you we all want to be the best in the country."

Ogata thanked the crowd, telling them, "It means a great deal to me to have so many people here supporting me. There is a month and a half left until the Olympics, and I will practice as hard as I can in the time I have left." He discussed some of the difficulties he faces as an elite marathoner and shed further light on his preparations while taking questions from the audience. Responding to the question, "How do you plan to deal with the heat?" Ogata said, "I`m not using my air conditioner at home so that I can get used to being sweaty."

Ogata left for training in Abashiri, Hokkaido on July 10th. Later this month he will travel to Beijing for his third test-run of the Olympic marathon course, followed by his final preparations for the main event on August 24th.

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