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Noguchi: "I'll Be in the London Olympics"

Originally published 10/12/08 in the Nikkei Newspaper

translated by Brett Larner

Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex), who pulled out of the Beijing Olympics women's marathon after an injury to her left thigh, took part in a panel discussion at an event in Sado, Niigata Prefecture on Oct. 11, telling the audience through her tears, "I sincerely apologize [for pulling out of the race]. My big goal now is to be ready to run the London Olympics." It was Noguchi's first public appearance since her injury, and she sent a positive message with her mention of plans four years in the future.

The panel discussion was part of an event organized by Noguchi's coach Nobuyuki Fujita. "Fujita Running Academy" is a program designed to support and develop elementary and junior high school student runners. Appearing as a special guest, Noguchi spoke publically about her injury for the first time while addressing the student audience. "Getting hurt was my own fault. I wanted to be in the best shape possible for the Olympics and I did too much [training]. The fault was my own. Coach Fujita and my trainer [Hisakazu] Hirose bear no blame...."

Noguchi tried at one point to begin training again after her Olympic pullout, but the pain persisted and she returned to recovery and rehabilitation mode. Looking to the future, she commented, "I'm still motivated and looking forward to coming back to the top."

Comments

Roberto said…
It's so tough (unless you're Haile Gebreselasie) to produce the goods on a particular day, after months and months of training, and it seems crazy to me to define one's life and career by a single race, four years down the road.

Of course, Noguchi has Olympic gold in her trophy case already, so her career will not be that single roll of the dice, but her statement (and I'm sure she will follow it through, racing fewer than 10 times over any distance between now and then) points up the starkly different approach of Japanese runners to those from other countries.

Perhaps it doesn't matter so much in the marathon, since one can run only so many races per year, but I don't see Japanese running improving over time if the runners don't leave Japan for races (and we see the same in soccer and other sports). Yes, a handful of Africans run here and unquestionably raise the bar for Japanese runners here, but ... I think the corporate system here makes life a little too comfortable to inspire true greatness. [And Samuel Wanjiru might offer that the year-long ekiden-focused training regimen does not prepare an athlete for world-beating success.]

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