translated by Brett Larner
A new hope has taken wing from deep in the heart of the distance running kingdom of Hyogo Prefecture. He is Kobe native Ryo Yamamoto, at age 25 a third-year member of Team Sagawa Express. In his debut marathon at August's Hokkaido Marathon Yamamoto was the top Japanese finisher, showing great promise of being able to take on the world as he came close to running down winner Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult). We talked to him about race, his background, and his plans and dreams for the future.
Your time was 2:12:10. It was a brilliant performance.
Right when I finished I was pretty crushed that the win got away from me, but now that some time has passed I think it's great that I was able to run with some power in my first marathon. They say a marathon starts at 35 km so I tried to hold off [on speeding up] and that's why I was able to run the last part way harder than I expected.
You beat Athens Olympics marathon 6th place finisher Toshinari Suwa (Team Nissin Shokuhin).
I was pretty confident about being able to compete with some of the top people because I got in all the right workouts. I've only seen the very tip of the marathon world so far, but even with just a little experience I was able to act so it helps me set my sights on getting out there and going after the world.
You must have learned a lot at Chuo University.
My second year I fell in a race and smacked my knee. I went back into full training way too quickly and it didn't heal, so I ended up not making the Hakone Ekiden that season. After this failure I realized that to get results I needed to be mentally strong and focused and not to lose sight of who I was and what I wanted.
Why did you join Team Sagawa Express?
I was impressed when Sagawa's Tomoya Shimizu won the 2006 Kumanichi 30 km Road Race, and I thought the team had a good atmosphere. I thought that if I ran there it would help me become a strong marathoner.
What are your aspirations for after this?
I want to help lead the team both when we're running and out of practice so that we have a shot at finishing on the podium at the New Year Ekiden. After that over the winter I want to run a fast marathon for myself. My strengths are the fact that I never get injured and that I'm really tenacious. I think that by finding the things that are hard in training and focusing on those it helps me to respond to anything in a race.
Ryo Yamamoto - Born May 18, 1984 in Kobe. 173 cm, 60 kg. Finished 5th in the National Championships 3000 m as a 3rd year at West Kobe J.H.S. After graduating from Nagata H.S. attended Chuo Univ. where he ran the Hakone Ekiden three times. Advanced rapidly through the field in the 2009 Hokkaido Marathon during the second half of the race, finishing 7 seconds behind winner Daniel Njenga (Team Yakult), clocking a debut time of 2:12:10.