Skip to main content

Keio University Announces Plan to Resurrect Ekiden Team Under New Head Coach Hoshina

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20170104-00000029-sph-spo

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Having run the inaugural Hakone Ekiden in 1920, Keio University announced this week that it is promoting assistant coach Kosaku Hoshina, 32, to the position of head coach.  A graduate of Nittai University and former Nissin Shokuhin corporate runner, Hoshina will lead the team in a bid to make a fully-fledged return to Hakone for the first time since the 70th running in 1994. Although its team is currently weak with just a 28th-place finish at October's Hakone Ekiden Yosenkai qualifying race, Keio's prominent brand-name value may help it become a rival to three-time Hakone winner Aoyama Gakuin University.

The Keio University track and field team was founded in 1917.  Along with Waseda University, Meiji University and Tokyo Koto Shihan College, in 1920 it was one of the four universities that ran the Hakone Ekiden's first edition. Known as one of the "Original Hakone Four," it ran Hakone as a team a total of 30 times, winning the 13th edition in 1932.  It won Day One twice and took the Day Two win in 1947, but beginning in the 1950s it had more and more trouble qualifying.  Prominent alumni include Seiichiro Tsuda, 6th-placer in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics marathon and 5th in Los Angeles four years later.

The alma mater of Rio de Janeiro men's 4x100 m relay silver medalist Ryota Yamagata (24, Seiko Holdings), Keio is well-known as a successful sprint program.  Its ekiden team, however, has not been a factor for a long time, with a 23-year absence since the 1994 Hakone Ekiden.  But with name value as one of Japan's leading academic universities it has great potential for recruiting leading high school talent.  Aoyama Gakuin head coach Susumu Hara commented, "The Aoyama Gakuin University brand name has been a tremendous help to me.  If Keio University utilizes its name value and seriously pursues this there is no doubt it will become strong."

Keio is now fully committed to restoring its team.  According to a university spokesperson, Hoshina has already been confirmed as head coach and is currently working with the university to establish guidelines for facilitated admission for athletes and other basic groundwork.  The Hakone Ekiden organizers are expected to expand the number of schools in the field for its 95 anniversary two years from now and again for the 100th running five years later.  Given the time involved in building a strong program, the 100th running looks like a realistic goal for a reborn Keio University.

Comments

Metts said…
Brett, what are the academic requirements for athletes at Kanto university schools? Here in a country near you, for the most part, athletes don't attend classes. They just practice all day. There is baseball, wrestling, volleyball, and some racket sports here at the university I work at. Also, because of every male has to go into the military for 2 years, they are forced to smoke when they enter the military. But that's not all true as the high school volleyball team at this university, they all smoke too, and try to hide it. So almost all the athletes smoke, or it seems that way. I have tried to confront or talk to them as to why etc, "you are an athlete etc." but they deny it. They don't like me. I just happen to see them everywhere trying to hide and smoke. Its a big problem here.

Most-Read This Week

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…

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…

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…