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Fujiwara's H.S. Coach, Hometown Supporters Delighted With Tokyo Performance

http://mainichi.jp/area/nagasaki/news/20120227ddlk42050279000c.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/osaka/sports/article/news/20120228-OHO1T00105.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner
photo by Dr. Helmut Winter


At the Feb. 26 Tokyo Marathon, Isahaya, Nagasaki native and Isahaya H.S. alum Arata Fujiwara, 30, was the top Japanese finisher at 2nd overall in 2:07:48, immediately elevating him into the top position among the contenders for the London Olympic team.  Voices of support and congratulations have poured in from his hometown friends and colleagues and from his former teachers.  As a student at Isahaya H.S. Fujiwara never made it to the National High School Championships, but according to his coach at Isahaya, Toshihiro Matsumoto, even in those days he never neglected his training and was always focused on improving, traits that remain inside him now.

Two weeks ago, with no doubt in his voice, Fujiwara told his former coach by phone, "I'm going to run 2:07.  I'm going to London."  Matsumoto travelled to Tokyo to see the race, watching near the 30 km point.  When he saw Fujiwara in pursuit of the leaders he shouted out, "Keep going!  Keep going!" at the top of his voice.  Right after the race Fujiwara called him, almost exploding with energy as he said, "Coach!  I did it!"

Two years ago Fujiwara quit the JR Higashi Nihon corporate team.  He signed a contract with a Japanese manager and sports equipment manufacturer, but after firing the manager last spring he terminated the relationship with the sponsor in October after they failed to pay him.  Now, Matsumoto believes, Fujiwara is set for the Olympics.  "I admire him for achieving this on his own.  It shows his strength of mind," said Matsumoto.

Isahaya mayor Akio Miyamoto gave Fujiwara exceptional praise, saying, "If he is named to the Olympic team he will follow gymnast Kohei Uchimura and race walker Koichiro Morioka to become Isahaya's third Olympian.  The way he advanced in pursuit of the lead in the final stage of the race was superb and deeply moved all the citizens of Isahaya."

photo (c) 2012 Dr. Helmut Winter
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