translated and edited by Brett Larner
click here and here for photos of the flamboyant DeNA uniform
Inheriting the remnants of the historic S&B corporate team following its disbanding at the end of March, the new DeNA Running Club introduced its uniform at a Tokyo-area press conference on April 3. With regard to the uniform's colorful design, supervising head coach Toshihiko Seko said, "They're going to have to be just as flashy in their running to pull off a uniform like this."
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Kiyoshi Nakamura, the mentor who led Seko to marathon greatness. DeNA ace Yuichiro Ueno plans to run his marathon debut this year. "We're combining the old and the new, and I'm whipping myself into shape even without being whipped," he said, showing plenty of spirit. Seko commented, "He's not ready yet, but when he is, look out. He's going to be great."
Asked about his views on the recent upswing in Japanese men's marathoning, with one after another 2:08 and 2:09 in the selection races for August's World Championships marathon team, Seko attributed it to the motivation provided by civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) who does not belong to a corporate team and trains and runs large numbers of races on his own while working full-time. "I think we are seeing a Kawauchi Effect," said Seko. "The marathon is the only distance where you can't have success if you're doing it just because someone told you to. Kawauchi is doing it because he genuinely wants to, and I think that's why he can do what he does without growing weary. For me the most incredible thing he has done was winning the Kumanichi 30 km in 1:29:31 only two weeks after getting the Beppu-Oita course record [2:08:15]. Normally that would be impossible, but he is not an ordinary person. These days I respect him more than anybody else."
"He's not afraid to tell it like it is, either. He has destroyed our sense of what is common sense, but we're all watching him and studying what he does. I want that kind of athlete here with us, but he hasn't answered my call. I can't force him, and for it to happen I have to wait for him to come to me." Sounding like a romantic waiting for their one true love, Seko unconsciously echoed the spirit of his famous quote, "The marathon is my only girlfriend. I give her everything I've got." For his part, Kawauchi commented, "I want to erase Seko's name from the top of the Japanese history books."
One note for context: Kawauchi's 2:08:15 at Beppu-Oita and 1:29:31 at Kumanichi two weeks apart broke Seko's lifetime PBs for those distances.