Skip to main content

5000 m Collegiate Record Holder Kensuke Takezawa Announces Retirement

http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/athletics/news/1766072.html
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170116-00000213-sph-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner



The Sumitomo Denko corporate men's team announced on Jan. 16 that Kensuke Takezawa, 30, a 2008 Beijing Olympian in the 5000 m and 10000 m, has made the decision to retire from competition.  Via a statement from the company Takezawa said, "I will retire from active competition at the end of this season.  The last few years I haven't been able to produce good results, but the strong, heartfelt support and encouragement I've received from everyone has made it possible to keep going this long.  I sincerely thank you all.  Please continue to cheer on the Sumitomo Denko team."

Takezawa graduated from Hyogo's Hotoku Gakuen H.S. before going to Waseda University, where he set the still-standing collegiate 5000 m record of 13:19.00 and as a fourth-year in 2009 broke the Hakone Ekiden Third Stage record despite an injury to his left Achilles to lead Waseda to an overall 2nd-place finish. He became the first active Hakone runner to make an Olympic team in 44 years when he ran in Beijing.  After graduating he joined the Toshihiko Seko-led S&B corporate team, leaving the team in 2013 to join Sumitomo Denko and leading it to its first New Year Ekiden appearance in 2014.  In 2015 his Waseda-era coach Yasuyuki Watanabe left Waseda to take over at Sumitomo Denko. Their reunion raising hopes that great things were on the way again, but a long-lasting injury to his left Achilles tendon and other injuries cut short his career.

Translator's note: Along with his high school and university rival Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin), Takezawa was a major Hakone star and true track talent with Galen Rupp or Dathan Ritzenhein-level ability.  Always plagued by injury, his achievements on the track included:

  • 13:22.36 for 5000 m at age 19
  • the 13:19.00 collegiate 5000 m national record at age 20
  • 27:45.59 for 10000 m at age 20
  • running the 1000 m at the 2007 Osaka World Championships at age 20
  • running the 5000 m and 10000 m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics at age 21
  • 7:49.26 for 3000 m at age 22
  • winning the 10000 m national title at age 23

Despite his popularity and his stunning Hakone Ekiden Third Stage course record, 1:01:40 for 21.5 km equating to 1:00:31 for the half marathon, Takezawa was under-appreciated as a talent on the roads, where his achievements included:

  • stage wins at major ekidens like the National University Ekiden, International Chiba Ekiden and National Men's Ekiden over an 8-year span from 2007 to 2015
  • a 1:02:27 win at the 2005 Ageo City Half Marathon as a 19-year-old first-year at Waseda
  • 1:02:26 for 3rd three months later at the Marugame Half Marathon
  • a win at the 2010 Himejijo 10-Miler at age 23
  • a win at the 2013 Kumamoto Kosa 10-Mier at age 27

Although time has gone by fans still held out hope that some day Takezawa would somehow return to his past self, and judging from the reaction on Twitter his retirement is deeply felt across the country. The fact that neither he nor Sato followed a career trajectory anything remotely close to Rupp's or Ritz's is as strong an indication of the problems with the Japanese corporate system as you could ask for.  Takezawa will be missed.

Comments

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…

What Value Does Four-Straight Hakone Ekiden Titles Have for Aoyama Gakuin's Athletes and Staff?

An editorial by Nikkan Gendai.

Nothing rings in the New Year like the Hakone Ekiden. With TV viewership ratings around 30% it's one of the most popular sports programs in Japan. The king of that cash cow is Aoyama Gakuin University, winning four-straight Hakone titles since its first victory in 2015. But no matter how well its students perform, every school in Hakone gets the same share of the proceeds, a uniform 2,000,000 yen [~$18,000 USD at current exchange rates].

The AGU team currently includes 44 athletes on its roster. Although athletes can get preferential admission, their tuition is the same as for other students and there are no exemptions or reductions. First year tuition in the Department of Social and Information Studies is around 1,520,000 yen [~$14,000 USD], and with additional fees including dormitory and training camp expenses the burden upon students' parents is considerable.

By comparison, in the United States the NCAA has made its collegiate sports a succes…

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…