Skip to main content

Olympic Sprinter Yamagata Turns Down Corporate League Offers to Train in U.S. With Seiko Sponsorship

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20140723-OHT1T50329.html

translated by Brett Larner

On July 23 it was announced that London Olympics sprinter Ryota Yamagata (22, Keio Univ.) will join Seiko Holdings Corporation and be based in California, U.S.A.  Yamagata's decision was a big one, made in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Turning down offers from many top corporate league teams, he entered into a sponsorship agreement with Seiko Holdings, manufacturers of watches and other precision mechanical equipment.

Seiko does not currently have a track and field team, but Yamagata intends to move to California by himself following his graduation next spring and as part of his agreement with Seiko, at his own request he will be responsible for choosing his coach, trainer, training location and environment himself.  "Maybe I could have gotten the best support somewhere else, but I want to open up new ways of doing things," he commented.  Having developed his training menus through his own study ever since high school, Yamagata's decision to go it alone comes as no surprise.  He plans to brush up his language skills from now until next spring.  "I'm okay when it comes to everyday conversation," he said.  "I just have to study more."

Seiko first became the official Olympic timekeeper 50 years ago at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.  As an official partner of the IAAF it is also the official timekeeper of the World Track and Field Championships, giving it a strong connection with the world of athletics.  "Yamagata will be 28 at the time of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and that will be the culmination of his career," said Keio University head coach Shintaro Kawai.  "After his retirement he will have the option of working at Seiko if he wants, which was also part of the decision."

In the 2012 London Olympics heats Yamagata ran 10.07, the fastest-ever by a Japanese athlete at the Olympics.  Following that he went through a period of injury, but expectations are still high that he will bring Japan its first sub-10.  By taking his game to one of track and field's great powers, Yamagata is aiming to go even further.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Nittai University Head Coach Masaaki Watanabe Fired Over Abuse Scandal

On Sept. 12 Nittai University announced that it will fire ekiden team head coach Masaaki Watanabe, 55, over the current power harassment scandal surrounding him. According to the university's public relations office, interviews by the alumni association with five current and one former team member reported multiple acts of violence by Watanabe including kicking athletes' legs and grabbing them by the chest.

The interviews also reported that Watanabe verbally abused and threatened student athletes and attacked their character. When runners fell off pace during workouts he was reported to have shouted, "Get the hell out of this university!" and, following the runners in a car, "I am going to f*cking run you over and kill you." Injured team members were also reported to have been subject to verbal humiliation by Watanabe, including, "Look at this f*cking cripple," and "You f*cking deserve it." Watanabe admitted the accusations but said tha…

Weekend Overseas Japanese Results

Lost in the luminosity of Eliud Kipchoge's world record and Gladys Cherono's women's course record at the Berlin Marathon were a score of Japanese results there and elsewhere overseas, ranging from the sparkling to the dull. Cherono and 2nd and 3rd placers Ruti Aga and Tirunesh Dibaba all broke Mizuki Noguchi's Berlin Marathon course record of 2:19:12 which has stood since she set that national record mark in 2005.

A kilometer behind Dibaba, Mizuki Matsuda (Daihatsu) followed up her 2:22:44 debut in Osaka in January with a 2:22:23 PB for 5th, making her just the fourth Japanese woman ever to break 2:23 twice in her career. 2:23:46 woman Honami Maeda (Tenmaya) ran 2:25:23 for 7th, beating Tenmaya teammate Rei Ohara whose 2:27:28 put her only 10th but qualified her for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marathon trials, only the second athlete after 2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) to qualify for the trials under the two-race average wildcard opt…

Kazami Breaks 100 km World Record at Lake Saroma

Running on the same course where Japan's Takahiro Sunada set the road 100 km world record of 6:13:33 twenty years ago, 2:17:23 marathoner Nao Kazamibested a deep and competitive field to win the Lake Saroma 100 km Ultramarathon in a world record 6:09:14.

Part of a front group of at least five that went through the marathon split in 2:33:36, on pace for 6:04:01, Kazami lost touch with the lead as rivals Koji Hayasaka and Takehiko Gyoba surged just before halfway to open a roughly 30 second lead that lasted until nearly 75 km. But in the last quarter of the race Kazami, a graduate of Hakone Ekiden powerhouse Komazawa University, was the only one who could sustain anything close to the early pace, overtaking Hayasaka and Gyoba before pulling away to open a lead of over 11 minutes. Kazami's mark took more than 4 minutes off the world record, and he also bettered the 100 km track world record of 6:10:20 set in 1978 well before he was born by the late Don Ritchie.
Trying to stay wi…