Skip to main content

Karoki to Transfer Nationality to Japan (updated)

http://www.fnn-news.com/news/headlines/articles/CONN00289305.html
http://dena.com/running/news/2015/04/04-01.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Karoki and Seko backstage before the announcement.

In the wake of Monday's Japan Industrial Track and Field Association press conference formally announcing the corporate federation's new Project Exceed 100 million yen [~$1 million USD at normal exchange rates] bonus program for a new Japanese marathon national record in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the DeNA corporate team held a press conference Tuesday at the DeNA offices in Shibuya, Tokyo to announce that its star runner, 2015 World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Bedan Karoki, has filed the necessary paperwork to transfer his citizenship from Kenya to Japan.  "Please look kindly upon me as I strive to bring Japan gold," Karoki said.

Appearing at the press conference alongside Karoki were DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu, executive head coach Toshihiko Seko and assistant coach Tomoaki Kunichika.  Moriyasu told members of the media, "Karoki has lived in Japan for nearly ten years, graduated from a Japanese high school, recently passed the highest level of the JLPT Japanese Language Proficiency Test, and is a productive member of our team, company and society.  A large part of DeNA's innovative workforce is made up of talented, hardworking immigrants, people who now make up a significant percentage of Japanese society.  It is time that we rethink what it means to be Japanese.  DeNA prides itself on its forward thinking and cutting edge innovation and we are likewise proud to take this step and welcome Karoki as one of our own."

Seko commented, "There is a great deal of talk that we need to look to what the U.S.A. is doing right in order to win medals.  Most of their best athletes are immigrants, and their success has motivated their best native-born athletes to try harder.  Looking at that example it's easy to see that the time is right to take this step.  Karoki is the most talented athlete I have ever coached.  I hope that he will be able to achieve what neither I nor any of the others I have coached were able to do and win an Olympic marathon medal for Japan."

Kunichika discussed Karoki's development plan, saying, "The ultimate goal will be a gold medal in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  If his citizenship is processed in time for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics the focus there will be on the 5000 m and 10000 m, but in any case before moving to the marathon he will work to deliver Japan's first-ever sub-13 5000 m, sub-27 10000 m and sub-hour half marathon.  We hope that other Japanese athletes will be inspired to follow his lead."

Although he will not change his name, as part of his transfer of citizenship Karoki will take a kanji reading of his birth name.  "His family name will become 黒木  [Kuroki, black tree]," revealed Seko.  "In light of his good looks we considered 美男 [Binan, handsome man] for his given name, but instead chose 美談 [Bidan, beautiful story] as we hope that by the time his story is finished it will indeed be a beautiful one."  Former Yamanashi Gakuin University star Stephen Mayaka took Japanese citizenship following his retirement, but Karoki is believed to be the first Kenyan to transfer nationality to Japan while at the height of his career.  2013 Fukuoka International Marathon winner and Osaka World Championships 10000 m bronze medalist Martin Mathathi (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) is also reported to be in the process of transferring his citizenship to Japan and will take the name 鈴木マサシ [Masashi Suzuki].

Update: This was an April Fool's Day story.  Neither Karoki nor Mathathi have officially announced plans to become Japanese citizens.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Nice! I was going to email some friends to verify....

Raymond

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …