translated and edited by Brett Larner
click here for photos of the KGU party
On July 15 marathoner Yoshinori Oda (Team Toyota) attended an official send-off party held by his alma mater, Kanto Gakuin University. Oda attended the ekiden powerhouse Omuta High School before running at Kanto Kaguin University and going on to the Toyota corporate team after his graduation. Although busy with his World Championships preparations, through the considerate cooperation of the Toyota company Oda was able to attend the party in his honor.
Kanto Gakuin University President Ono, Dean of Student Life Oyama and other members of the school administration made up most of those in attendance at the party, giving Oda their wholehearted support. As an academically-oriented school Kanto Gakuin is far-removed from the Hakone Ekiden powerhouses, but inspired by Oda's success the administration has pledged to strengthen the school's track program.
Oda spoke about his resolve to run strongly in his World Championships marathon debut and gave a message of encouragement to current Kanto Gakuin student athletes. He graciously extended his encouragement to all those connected with his life as an athlete before receiving group cheers from the Kanto Gakuin men's track and field team and the women's cheerleader dance squad.
The party concluded with a speech from Kanto Gakuin head coach Moriyuki Tanaka, who spoke warmly about his memories of Oda and other graduated athletes as well as of the team's planned move toward becoming competitive at the Hakone Ekiden.