Skip to main content

What to Do When the Dream Comes True? Federation Officials Push Management Role as Kawauchi Fever Sweeps Japan

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Yuki Kawauchi at work a day after the Tokyo Marathon as media look on. Click here to enlarge.

Rikuren director Keisuke Sawaki, 67, Long Distance and Road Racing Special Committee chief Toshio Kiuchi and other executive members of the Japanese athletics federation traveled to Kasukabe, Saitama on Mar. 2 to pay a formal visit to Yuki Kawauchi, 23, the amateur runner who qualified for August's World Championships marathon team by placing 3rd overall and top Japanese at the Feb. 27 Tokyo Marathon. "Since he is not affiliated with a corporate team, we had to talk about what the future holds," said Kiuchi. The federation dignitaries asked administration officials at Kasukabe High School, where Kawauchi is employed as an administrative assistant, for their help and support in getting Kawauchi to the World Championships.

In order to minimize the strain caused by the sudden rush of media attention upon Kawauchi, one of the main topics under discussion was the hiring of a personal manager. Rikuren officials feel the move is necessary in order to protect the Cinderella Boy. In conversation with Kawauchi and school administration officials, the Rikuren executives voiced concern, saying, "Since the morning after the race Mr. Kawauchi has been working at his job and doing interviews virutally continuously and has taken absolutely no rest. Of course we believe that he should continue to train the way he always has, but he is in need of someone to handle his daily schedule and training arrangements." The group strongly stressed the absolute necessity of a full-time manager and suggested that the federation would be the best party to fulfill this role.

With his 2:08:37 result from the Tokyo Marathon Kawauchi is now classified as a federation-sanctioned B-class athlete. Considering that this is only one rank below A-class half marathon national record holder and Berlin World Championships 6th placer Atsushi Sato (32, Team Chugoku Denryoku), the ranking is a mark of how important an athlete Kawauchi is to the federation. As a B-class athlete he will receive an annual stipend of 1,500,000 yen [~$18,000] to support his training along with a World Championships preparation supplement of 1,000,000 yen [~$12,000] pending confirmation of the results of post-race blood testing and ratification at the Rikuren general meeting on Mar. 15. In that respect, Rikuren executives' biggest fear is Kawauchi not having anyone to look after his interests.

With no team and no coach to support him on race day, Kawauchi's younger brother Koki, 18, wore the credentials for Kawauchi's coach and was in charge of his baggage. The morning after the race, Kawauchi went for a 30 minute jog at 5:30 a.m. before catching the train to begin work at 8:30, four hours earlier than usual due to the extra paperwork from incoming school entry applications. During breaks in his workday Kawauchi dealt with media interviews in his office and met with the Governor and other prefectural officials, a dizzying schedule. With no one in place to handle the media, phones at the school and Kawauchi's own cell phone have been overloaded with calls ever since the race. Kiuchi commented, "For the first two days Kawauchi received so many calls that he had to set his phone to accept them only from numbers he registered. He didn't know Rikuren's number, so he didn't register us and we had no way to contact him. I came here to present him with my business card. Since he is completely on his own it's important that he be able to answer calls, and this is something we at the (Rikuren) office can do for him."

To deal with the unworkably hectic situation in which Kawauchi now finds himself, Rikuren representatives strongly urged school administration officials to allow them to take care of all media requests. If Kawauchi indicates that he wants to run a race or take part in a training camp, Rikuren will assist with preparations. "We will do everything possible to help him be ready for the World Championships," said the federation officials. To protect the newfound treasure of the men's marathoning world, Rikuren's executives said their main goal is to help preserve an environment in which Kawauchi can maintain his focus upon his training.

With an apparent green light from the very top of the federation to continue training as he always has, Kawauchi is now looking toward the World Championships. "If I can be tougher over the second half than I was in Tokyo," he said, "I think at least top eight is realistic. I want to go for top six." He indicated that he plans to use the drink designed for him by Kasukabe High School cafeteria head Koji Nakayama, a mixture of orange juice, honey and lemon juice, at the World Championships. Vice principal Akio Hayashi commented, "Cutting back on his work hours to make time for training would be against Kawauchi's principles. We want to respect his wishes in every way."

Comments

Brett Larner said…
Somebody out there make a movie about all of this someday. I'll write the book.
Desert Dirt said…
Yuki superstar. Love this guy.
Daniel Hocking said…
"If I can be tougher over the second half than I was in Tokyo," he said, "I think at least top eight is realistic. I want to go for top six."

I'm not sure it is possible to run harder for the second half. I love this guy!
Brett Larner said…
I think my favorite thing in this story apart from the quotes in the last paragraph is that the very top people in the federation came to him in person cap in hand to talk.

I'm very glad to hear that it sounds as though they want to leave him in peace to do whatever it is he is doing to get where he did.

Most-Read This Week

Former Coach Koide on Hara's Arrest: "She Was Really F*cking Serious"

A World Championships marathoner was arrested for shoplifting. On Aug. 17 The Tochigi Prefectural Police Ashikaga Department arrested temp worker Yumiko Hara, 35, on suspicion of stealing skin lotion and other items from a convenience store.

Yoshio Koide, Hara's former coach at the Universal Entertainment corporate team and head of the Saku Athlete Club, was surprised by the events. "She trained harder than anybody," Koide said. "She never missed training, and she was really f*cking serious. I think there must have been a reason for her to commit shoplifting, but she was always a normal kind of girl who would say, "Yes!" when you told her to do something. When she retired she said, 'I've done what I could but I just can't run the way I want to.' I haven't spoken to her since she quit, but it's very unfortunate news and I can't understand it."

source article:https://www.nikkansports.com/general/nikkan/news/1873808.html
translat…

World Championships Marathoner Yumiko Hara Arrested for Shoplifting Cosmetics

Former World Championships marathoner Yumiko Hara, 35, was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting cosmetics and other goods. A resident of Ashikaga, Tochigi, Hara is suspected of shoplifting eight items including cosmetics and soft drinks with a total value of 2700 yen [~$25 USD] from a local convenience store on July 30. According to police, a clerk performing a store inventory found that the item totals did not match. When police reviewed security camera footage they identified Hara as a suspect.

Hara represented Japan at two World Championships, finishing 6th in the marathon at the 2005 Helsinki World Championships. During her interrogation Hara admitted her guilt in the charges, saying that there was "no mistake."
Translator's note: Along with the 2005 Helsinki World Championships and 2007 Osaka World Championships, Hara represented Japan at the 2003 Vilamoura World Half Marathon Championships. She was the winner of both the 2007 Osaka International Women's Maratho…

Kobayashi Wins London Bronze Without Hakone Experience While Hakone Veteran Kawauchi Fails to Make Top 8

The World Championships in athletics were first held in Helsinki, Finland in 1983. Up until the 1991 Tokyo World Championships they were held once every four years, but beginning with the 1993 Stuttgart World Championships they switched to an every other year format. London this year was the 16th edition. To date 68 men with Hakone Ekiden experience have competed in the World Championships, with three of them winning medals in the marathon.

In Tokyo in 1991 Hiromi Taniguchi became the first Japanese World Championships gold medalist, raising the excitement level at the games.  As a student at Nittai University Taniguchi had won the Hakone Ekiden's downhill Sixth Stage three years in a row from 1981 to 1983. As a fourth-year in 1983 he set a new stage record of 57:47. Course changes have rendered his record an historical artifact, but Taniguchi is still considered Hakone's greatest downhill runner.

At the 1999 Seville World Championships and 2005 Helsinki World Championships, …