translated by Brett Larner
On leave from the Hiroshima-based Chugoku Denryoku company team, this month half marathon national record holder and Beijing Olympian Atsushi Sato, 34, marks two years since relocating his training base back to his native Fukushima. "I want to do my part in helping rebuild Fukushima," he said of his move back to his hometown of Aizubange-machi. For the last year Sato has been busy, coaching training sessions and giving lectures for local athletes, studying as a research fellow at Fukushima University, and getting coaching advice from Fukushima University head coach Kazuhisa Kawamoto.
Last November Sato finished 3rd at the Osaka Marathon, but after developing problems with his right leg he was unable to race at 100% and missed his goal of making this year's World Championships marathon team. He is now focused on being ready to race December's Fukuoka International Marathon.
As part of his mission to communicate to Fukushima's children the importance of not giving up, on May 1 Sato held a training seminar and gave a lecture in Mishima-machi for local elementary and junior high school students together with his wife, 800 m and 1000 m national record holder Miho Sugimori, 35. "These days the spirits of children in this area have been very low," said Sato. "How can we help them not lose hope and give up, help them get over their difficulties? I think running is one way, and that is something I can help them with." In celebrating his second year back in Fukushima, Sato can take pride in having balanced his life as an athlete and as a leader and educator.