Skip to main content

Takushoku University Names Ethiopian Derese Captain of Ekiden Team



It's been a month since the 94th Hakone Ekiden wrapped up. Every university is busy piecing together its new team. After making the seeded top ten for the first time in four years, Takushoku University, alma mater of Olympic marathoners Kentaro Nakamoto (Yasukawa Denki) and Arata Fujiwara (Arata Project) has named third-year Derese Workneh its team captain for the 2018-19 season. Under the leadership of this exceptional foreign student athlete the team aims to beat its best-ever Hakone placing, 7th. The clock is already ticking to the 95th running.

Veteran head coach Masahiro Okada, 72, is confident in his choice of captain. "The only one who can lead the new Takushoku is Derese," said Okada. He informed the team of his decision at its first meeting on Jan. 4, a day after Takushoku returned to the seeded bracket with an 8th place finish at this year's Hakone.


It has only been three years since Derese came to Japan from Ethiopia. His initial reaction to the announcement was, "I think my language ability will be too much of a problem," but his teammates all overruled him with a warm round of applause. Accepting the position, he already showed the dignity of a true leader as he told them, "There are things I can't say with words, but those things I will try to communicate by leading the team from the heart."

It's unheard of for a non-Japanese student to be named captain. Coach Okada again showed confidence in his decision as he explained, "I've been thinking about who I would name as the next captain since last summer. Derese always led the team in the hard workouts, and sometimes he would drop back to give encouragement to teammates who had fallen behind. Sometimes he would bring donuts for the others when they worked hard at a session. He is the man on the team who best understands the meaning of teamwork. All he needs to do as captain is what he has already done naturally."


Leading the team on the track, Derese always wants to enter the world of the marathon. From Jan. 9 to 14 he took part in a marathon training camp in Okinawa doing 35 km and 40 km training runs. At the time he planned to run the Feb. 25 Tokyo Marathon, but after getting sick upon his return to Tokyo he decided to shift his debut to the Apr. 15 Nagano Marathon. "My goal in my first marathon is 2:08 to 2:10," Derese said. "There are a lot of very strong athletes in Ethiopia, but I am aiming to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympic team. I think I have a chance."

Heading into his final Hakone season, the targets are already in place, both for Takushoku as a team and for Derese as an individual. Takushoku's best-ever 7th-place Hakone finish came in 2011. For the last three years Derese ran Hakone's most competitive stage, its 23.1 km Second Stage. Now, he says, "I want us to leave our best-ever result as a team. To help make that happen, I'm going to run 66 minutes on the Second Stage."


"My hobby is learning," Derese says. Like a true student, this 22-year-old has had a dream since the beginning. "I want to invite my mother Wanda to my graduation ceremony." To show his mother how much he has grown during his four years in Japan, as both Takushoku University's star runner and captain, the coming year will be the biggest of Derese's life so far.

Derese Workneh - born July 23, 1995 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 22 years old. Began running in elementary school. Entered Takushoku University in 2015 after graduating from Medhani Alem H.S. Has run the Hakone Ekiden Second Stage three times, finishing 11th as a 1st-yr, 2nd as a 2nd-yr, and 5th as a 3rd-yr. 10000 m PB: 28:19.16. 169 km, 51 kg.


source article: 
http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/feature/hakone/20180130-OHT1T50157.html
translated and edited by Brett Larner

Comments

Most-Read This Week

National Track and Field Championships Entry Lists

The JAAF has released the entry lists for the 2019 National Track and Field Championships to be held June 27-30 in Fukuoka. Anyone who has the standard for this fall's Doha World Championships and wins their event will be guaranteed a place on the Doha team, with most others having to wait until the IAAF's September deadline to find out if the JAAF will add them based on qualifying standard or world ranking. Fourteen athletes on the Nationals entry list across eight events currently have the standard and stand to firm up their fall schedules in Fukuoka, with another twenty-two in range of making the final cut based on current world rankings. Entry list highlights below.
103rd National Track and Field ChampionshipsEntry List Highlights
Fukuoka, June 27-30, 2019
marks listed are best in last two years except where noted
athletes in bold have cleared 2019 Doha World Championships standard
athletes in italics are currently ranked inside Doha field size without standard
complete entry …

17-Year-Old Ryuji Miura Breaks 3000 m Steeplechase High School Record in World-Leading Time

At the Kinki Region High School Track and Field Championships Saturday in Osaka’s Nagai Stadium, 17-year-old Ryuji Miura of Rakunan H.S. took down one of the oldest records in Japanese athletics, breaking the 30-year-old 3000 m steeplechase high school record by 5 seconds to win in 8:39.49.

Running in heavy rain after clocking the fastest time in the qualifying rounds, Miura went straight to the front in the final and was on his own within 200 m. From the start the record was in reach as he went through 1000 m in 2:49 and 2000 m in 5:43, building up a lead of about 200 m over the rest of the field.

Miura’s final time of 8:39.49 was the fastest in the world this year by an U18 athlete and 6th-best among U20 men, a new Japanese U18 record and all-time #2 for the U20 category. He came short of the outright Japanese high school record of 8:19.21 held by future marathon great Daniel Njenga, but took 5 seconds off the Japanese citizen high school record of 8:44.77 set back in 1989 by futu…

Japan Announces Team of 42 for Napoli Universiade

The JOC has announced a team of 42, 16 women representing 11 universities and 26 men from 13 universities, for track and field competition at next month's 30th anniversary Napoli Universiade. Jun Yamashita (Tsukuba Univ.) is the only returning medalist from the 2017 Universiade on the Japanese team, part of last time's gold medal-winning men's 4x100 m lineup. But medal chances are good in the men's and women's half marathons, both areas of traditional strength, in the men's 20 km race walk, where Masatora Kawano (Toyo Univ.) and Koki Ikeda (Toyo Univ.) have the 2nd and 3rd-best times in the world so far this year, the men's long jump, where Yuki Hashioka (Nihon Univ.) is tied for 4th-best in the world, the women's javelin throw, with Haruka Kitaguchi (Nihon Univ.) throwing 8th-best in the world this season, the men's 400 m hurdles, where Masaki Toyoda (Hosei Univ.) is ranked 18th in the world this season, and the men's pole vault, with Masaki E…