Skip to main content

Waseda Head Coach Watanabe at Retirement Press Conference: "I Did All I Had to Do"

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20150309-OHT1T50100.html
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20150309-OHT1T50174.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

On March 9 Waseda University held a press conference at its Shinjuku campus in Tokyo to announce the transfer of leadership at the end of the month from ekiden team head coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, 41, to incoming head coach Yutaka Sagara, 34.  Watanabe, who spent 12 years leading Waseda including one year as assistant coach, had a light and relaxed expression as he said, "I did all I had to do, and that's why I am stepping down now."

Watanabe developed two Waseda runners, 2008 Olympian Kensuke Takezawa (now 28, Team Sumitomo Denko) and 2013 World Championships team member Suguru Osako (now 23, resigning from Team Nissin Shokuhin at the end of this month) into world-class athletes, and under his leadership in the 2010-11 season Waseda achieved an unprecedented triple crown of course record wins at all of the Big Three university ekidens, Izumo, Nationals and Hakone.  A Hakone star since his own days as a collegiate athlete, Watanabe said, "The Hakone Ekiden made me what I am.  Now I want to give back to Hakone."  With a rueful smile of tribute to Hakone's uphill Fifth Stage stars Ryuji Kashiwabara (formerly of Toyo University, now 25, Team Fujitsu) and Daichi Kamino (3rd yr, Aoyama Gakuin University), Watanabe said, "Those guys really kept handing it to us on the Fifth Stage."

Incoming head coach Sagara has worked with Watanabe as assistant coach since 2005.  "From Waseda to World Class, those are our key words," the new leader of the most prestigious university team in Japan said of his aspirations.  "While we cultivate athletes who can compete at the international level we also work to help athletes who follow the difficult path of walking on as general admission students to develop.  When we can fully fuse these twin objectives then Waseda University will truly be able to deliver strength.  If we don't set a goal as ambitious and difficult as rewriting the course record [10:49:27] Aoyama Gakuin University set this year as our target then we will never win the Hakone Ekiden."

With an eye toward the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and beyond to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Watanabe will take on a new challenge in April.  At the Waseda press conference he avoided answering questions about his future plans, saying, "I'm not going to talk about what comes next here," but he confirmed that he will continue his mission of cultivating athletes who can compete against the best in the world by taking over as head coach of the Sumitomo Denko corporate team.  At Sumitomo Denko Watanabe will reunite with arguably the most talented athlete he has ever coached, Takezawa.

Translator's note: On March 11 Watanabe will travel with JRN to New York for his final official duty as Waseda head coach, overseeing Waseda star Koki Takada's U.S. debut at the March 15 United Airlines NYC Half.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Saitama International Marathon Top Two's Times Annulled Due to Last-Minute Misdirection by Race Officials

At the Nov. 12 Saitama International Marathon, Kenyan Flomena Cheyech Daniel won a sprint finish over Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel by 3 seconds to take her second-straight Saitama title in 2:28:39. On Dec. 11 race organizers announced that both runners' times had been annulled.

In the midst of the pair's battle for the win, race officials misdirected the pair into the righthand lane on the final corner instead of the lefthand lane in which the finish line was located. Both ran over the curb dividing the two lanes and returned to the original course before finishing.

At the time JAAF executive director Mitsugi Ogata said, "This was a mistake by the organizers and the athletes did nothing wrong. There was no effect on the finishing order and no advantage gained in terms of the distance run." After later consultation with JAAF officials, race organizers decided that Cheyech and Habtegebrel had not covered the complete distance and that their times should be annulled. N…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…