translated by Brett Larner
One of the greats of Japanese distance running, 1996 Atlanta Olympian Masako Chiba (34), gave a talk before 74 5th graders at Hagiso Elementary School in Ichinoseki, Iwate on Aug. 25. Chiba appeared at the school as part of the "Classroom of Dreams Project" sponsored by the Japan Soccer Federation. As part of the opening session with students in the school's gymnasium, Chiba talked about the techniques behind running faster, the right way to train, speedwork, making use of her experience to set an example for the children. She showed students how changing your arm carriage affects your stride, a demonstration that had many students calling out, "Wow!"
Changing venues to a classroom, Chiba talked about her 15 year-long career as one of the world's top distance runners. She told students about finishing 5th in the Atlanta Olympics 10000 m and showed them her two World Championships bronze medals, one from the 1997 World Championships 10000 m and one from the 2003 World Championships marathon. She told students that whenever a race got tough and she didn't feel like she could keep going, "It was really important to believe in myself," and that, "The hero in the story of my life is me."