originally published in the Nikkei Newspaper, 8/25/08
translated by Brett Larner
Nearly 35 minutes after winner Samuel Wanjiru crossed the finish line, Atsushi Sato shuffled in at jogging speed. At age 30, this was his first Olympics. He was the 76th and final runner to finish the Olympic marathon. "It's humiliating, but that's the reality. I have to admit that 76th place means that's my level right now before I can start again."
Unable to get himself into suitable condition, Sato came to the Olympic main event in low spirits. Cutting back on practice due to fatigue and discouragement, Sato cancelled a planned high-altitude training camp in St. Moritz, Switzerland in July. Even heading into August, Sato said of his training, "While doing speedwork I just couldn't move my body."
After 25 kilometers, with the sunlight burning stronger and stronger, Sato's 5 km splits were way over 20 minutes. He could have pulled out at any time, but, "The whole time I was thinking 'Let`s keep running,`' and he kept on moving his legs one step after another. After finishing the race he turned and bowed to the course.