Skip to main content

Waseda Ace Osako to Join Salazar's Nike Oregon Project

http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2012/12/25/kiji/K20121225004849190.html
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/sports/etc/news/20121225-OHT1T00207.htm

translated and edited by Brett Larner

In a Dec. 25 interview about the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden, Waseda University junior Suguru Osako, Japan's #1 collegiate runner and one of the brightest hopes of Japanese men's distance running, revealed that he will join the 2012 national champion Nissin Shokuhin team following his graduation in 2014.  Osako's long list of achievements includes the 2011 National University Championships 1500 m title, the 2011 World University Games 10000 m gold medal, and the Asian junior half marathon record.  He chose the Nissin team, he said, "because they are going to give me the freedom to do what I want to do."  According to Waseda head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, Osako plans to move to Portland, Oregon to be coached by one of marathon legend Toshihiko Seko's great rivals, American Alberto Salazar.

Coach Watanabe revealed, "Starting next year Osako is going to be based in the U.S.A. for his training."  His destination is the Nike Oregon Project in Portland, Oregon.  The pride of Waseda, Osako has been accepted into a special program for advanced students. Beginning in 2013, while continuing on as a member of the Waseda long distance team and as a student he will go to Oregon on a short-term foreign study program.  Following his graduation in 2014 he will join the Nissin Shokuhin team for competitions but plans to relocate to Oregon on a more permanent basis for training.

The Nike Oregon Project has the reputation of being one of the world's leading training environments, coached by the ruthlessly competitive Seko-era Salazar.  The group includes London Olympics double gold medalist Mo Farah (GBR) and London 10000 m silver medalist Galen Rupp (U.S.A.), one of only two non-African runners to have broken 27 minutes.

At this year's National Championships 10000 m Osako lost out to future Nissin teammate and fellow Saku Chosei H.S. graduate Yuki Sato by 0.38 seconds, missing a place on the Olympic team as a result.  Looking toward the 2013 Moscow World Championships and 2016 Rio Olympics teams, Osako was emphatic about his intentions, saying, "To be able to compete with the best in the world I have to train with a group that's strong on the track."

When Seko was unable to pass Waseda's entrance exams he spent time at America's University of Southern California before matriculating, but it is a truly exceptional case for a long-distance athlete to relocate abroad while still an active student.  It's a mark of how high Osako's hopes are.  Asked whether he thinks Osako has the ability to break the Japanese national records for 5000 m and 10000 m, 13:13.20 and 27:35.09, coach Watanabe said, "He is an athlete who is trying with all his heart to become one of the best in the world.  This will give him the chance to do the training that will let him target 26 minutes."  Maintaining his supervision of Osako during this time, Watanabe himself hopes to absorb some of the long-distance knowhow to improve his own coaching.

Before he sets off to pursue his dreams Osako will spend the New Year taking on Hakone. As a sophomore last year he won the First Stage.  All of his competitors from rival schools will no doubt be keying off him.  Coach Watanabe said, "He'll run either the First or Second Stage," but Osako himself said, "If I can, I want to be put on the Second or Third Stage. Whichever one I run I want to set a new course record.  The team atmosphere is as good as when we set all three university ekiden course records [2010-11], so I want to give us the momentum we'll need."  For Japan's #1 university runner Hakone's roads look set to lead on to the wide world beyond.

Suguru Osako - 3rd year, Waseda University.  Born 5/23/91 in Machida, Tokyo.  
1500 m: 3:42.68   5000 m: 13:31.27   10000 m: 27:56.94   half-marathon: 1:01:47

Translator's note: Osako was to have joined the Seko-led S&B team, which late in the summer abruptly announced its dissolution this coming March.  The second article linked above erroneously states that Rupp was the first non-African to have broken 27 minutes.  I have corrected the mistake in my translation.

Comments

TokyoRacer said…
Wow, that's pretty big news. It sure worked for Mo Farah.
Anonymous said…
Rumors were abound that the Bekele brothers might join Salazar. If that's the case - this kid will be training with the best of the best.
sadaharu honda said…
Best wishes for Osako to challenge to the world level training environment to challenge to the world records among other international athletes. As a Waseda gradate I wish him best.

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Osaka Marathon Elite Field

One of the world's ten biggest marathons, in its six runnings to date the Osaka Marathon has continued to avoid the addition of a world-class elite field of the same caliber as at equivalently-sized races like Tokyo, Berlin and Boston. In place of doling out cash to pros, Osaka's women's field has developed into a sort of national championship race for amateur women.

In the field this year are six, probably all six, of the amateur Japan women to have broken 2:40 in the last three years. Last year's top three, Yoshiko Sakamoto (F.O.R.), Yumiko Kinoshita (SWAC) and Hisae Yoshimatsu (Shunan City Hall) lead the way at the 2:36 +/- level, with a second trio of Marie Imada (Iwatani Sangyo), Mitsuko Ino (R2 Nishin Nihon) and Chika Tawara (RxL) all around the 2:39 level.

Last year's winner Sakamoto and 3rd placer Yoshimatsu squared off in September at Germany's Volksbank Muenster Marathon, Yoshimatsu tying Sakamoto's Osaka winning time of 2:36:02 to take 3rd over …