translated by Brett Larner
In the National Track and Field Championships 5000 m last month, Yuichiro 'Big Mouth' Ueno's usual stupidity was nowhere to be seen.* Hanging back at the rear of the lead pack, Ueno bided his time before attacking to take his first national title. Watching the race, Hiroshi Tako, Ueno's coach since his early days at Chuo University, commented, "Hmmn, this isn't like him at all." That's how much Ueno wanted to make his first World Championships team.
Three days later came the 1500 m. Right from the first lap Ueno took off at a dash. All the real middle distance runners in the race waited as they followed their carefully-built race plans. On the last lap the leaders tried to run Ueno down, but it was too late. "Man, it's pretty weak that nobody even tried to race me," he said in his post-race interview. Ueno became the first person in 24 years to win the 1500 m and 5000 m double at the National Championships. People across the country laughed in amazement that Big Mouth had finally actually done something.
Ueno's career goal is the marathon. That hasn't changed since he entered high school, when he famously said in an interview, "I'm going to set the world record." He plans to concentrate on speed until he's 29. Currently he trains about 400 km a month. Compared to Olympic gold medalists Naoko Takahashi and Mizuki Noguchi, who trained over 1000 km a month, it seems like Ueno isn't working hard enough.
The reality is different. Ueno missed out on the 2007 World Championships in Osaka and the 2008 Olympics in Beijing because of injuries. "I can't even count the number of times I cried because I couldn't train," he says. "Finally, finally, finally, I did it." Ueno understands that rather than killing himself in training, now it's the time for him to develop himself and flesh out his abilities. He may be a clever runner after all.
Born in Saku, Nagano. 183 cm, 58 kg. 23 yrs. old. Runs for Team S&B. While at Saku Chosei High School he broke the 12 year-old 10000 m high school national record. An ekiden star while at Chuo University, he was known as one of the 'Four Princes' of the university ekiden world along with Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Yuki Matsuoka (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) and Hideaki Date (Team Chugoku Denryoku). PBs: 1500 m - 3:42.51 / 5000 m - 13:21.49 / 10000 m - 28:27.39
*Translator's note: Ueno has a long-standing reputation for talking big and blowing up even bigger.