Skip to main content

Aiming to Make 100th Hakone Ekiden, Rikkyo University Names Track Star Yuichiro Ueno as Head Coach

On Nov. 13 Rikkyo University, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2024, announced its new "Rikkyo Hakone Ekiden 2024" project, naming DeNA corporate team runner Yuichiro Ueno, 33, as head coach of its ekiden program.

A graduate of Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S. and Hakone powerhouse Chuo University, Ueno has been well-known for his unique personality as well as his achievements both at those schools and at the SB and DeNA teams. He will leave DeNA at the end of November and take over at Rikkyo effective Dec. 1 to lead its ekiden team to qualify for the 100th Hakone Ekiden in 2024. He plans to remain active as an athlete, training directly alongside the athletes he will supervise.

If successful it will be Rikkyo's first time qualifying for the Hakone Ekiden since 1968. For a school more than half a century removed from the Hakone frontlines Rikkyo's new development project is an ambitious one, and the appointment of the idiosyncratic Ueno as head coach adds intrigue to the buildup to Hakone's 100th running. "We will do everything possible to earn a place at the 2024 Hakone Ekiden," Ueno said confidently at the official announcement at Rikkyo's main campus in Toshima, Tokyo. "But it won't stop there. I want to develop athletes who won't look only at Hakone but beyond to international competition. Now that I'm in my 30s I'm thrilled and excited to have this new opportunity as head coach."

Rikkyo University's track and field team was founded in 1920 and first qualified for the 15th edition of the Hakone Ekiden in 1934. Its best-ever placing came at the 33rd Hakone in 1957 where it was 3rd. Of its 27 times qualifying for Hakone to date its last appearance was at the 44th edition in 1968. Rikkyo University's new president Yanchun Kaku, who took his position at the start of the current academic year in April, voiced his high expectations for the project, saying, "Connecting this history and tradition of this university with the history and tradition of the Hakone Ekiden through the tasuki will unite our 20,000 students and 200,000 supporters into one unified body. I know that the hurdle to qualify for the Hakone Ekiden will be high, but with the principles of the scholarly warrior at heart I welcome Ueno as our new head coach."

Ueno assumes his new office on Dec. 1. "At the present time I have no plans to retire as an athlete," he said with the clam maturity of a leader instead of his characteristic edginess. "But my priority will be leading the team. I will train during the time I have available. As an athlete I will no longer be targeting the Olympics or World Championships. In the end I want to finally run the good marathon that has escaped me so far. That is the example I want to show the students. When I was at my peak maybe I had a brash, big-talking image, but as a coach I want to start from the beginning and learn as I go."

DeNA corporate team executive head coach and JAAF long distance and marathon development project leader Toshihiko Seko, 62, commented, "A coach's job is not an easy one. It's one that must be done with humility and respect." Ueno said that he had contacted Tokai University head coach Hayashi Morozumi, 52, who coached him in his Saku Chosei H.S. days, to tell him the news. "I told him that I have not forgotten my gratitude to him for all that he taught me," said Ueno. "I hope to become his rival as a coach some day."

The road back to Hakone after a 50-year-plus absence will not be an easy one, but as a popular school Rikkyo's brand value is high. Its campus in Niiza, Saitama already features an all-weather surface track. Vice-president Tetsuya Matsuo will focus on promoting the Rikkyo Hakone Ekiden 2024 project. "We will complete our new team dormitory by next fall," he said. "We would like to encourage promising athletes to apply by utilizing the athlete select entrance examination. Recruitment begins now."

At this year's Hakone Ekiden Qualifier half marathon Rikkyo finished 28th in team scoring, 37:45 behind 11th-place Jobu University which barely made the qualifying bracket. The number of schools that will be able to compete is expected to be expanded at the 100th running in 2024. With five years to go until then it's a realistic goal for Rikkyo to be one of them. Susumu Hara, 51, became head coach of Aoyama Gakuin University in 2004, and over a similar time period with similar improvements in recruitment, admissions and dormitories transformed it from a Hakone non-starter into one of the top programs.  With a brand value at least as high as Aoyama Gakuin's and a charismatic new head coach in Ueno, Rikkyo University is set to bring a whirlwind of new energy to the university ekiden scene.

source article:
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20181113-00000099-sph-spo
translated by Brett Larner

© 2018 Brett Larner, all rights reserved

Buy Me A Coffee

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Additional Cost of Moving Olympic Marathons and Race Walks to Sapporo Expected to Total Almost $100 Million

Multiple officials confirmed on Dec. 6 that the total additional cost of the IOC's decision to move the Tokyo 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks to Sapporo will be under 10 billion yen [~$92 million USD], likely totaling in the 7 to 8 billion yen range [~$65 million to $75 million USD]. The exact amount is still undetermined due to the IOC's rejection of the Organizing Committee's proposed two-lap course earlier this week, but the Organizing Committee intends to go ahead with this budget estimate.

Initially the IOC had decreed that the events should start and finish at Sapporo Dome. But with no access gate capable of handling a marathon, the construction costs necessary to make Sapporo Dome a suitable venue were said to be in the area of several billion yen [tens of millions of USD]. When the IOC made its proclamation that the road events would be relocated to Sapporo, the Citizens First Association group within the Tokyo Metropolitan Government estimated that the cost…

Jepchirchir Wins Saitama, Yugeta Breaks Own 60+ WR, Yamaguchi Breaks Own Nara CR - Weekend Marathon Highlights

Two of Japan's main year-ending marathons celebrated anniversary runnings this year, with the Saitama International Marathon holding its 5th edition and the Nara Marathon marking ten years.

Former half marathon world record holder Peres Jepchirchir (Kenya) dropped the competition at 30 km to win in Saitama. Within the first kilometer an all-African lead group had left top Japanese entrants Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) and Kasumi Yoshida (Nitori), and Nina Savina (Belarus) behind. The lead group quickly rounded down to four, Jepchirchir and Ethiopian trio Fatuma Sado, Belaynesh Oljira and Rahma Tusa. #1-ranked Oljira slipped off early in the second half, and when the pacers stopped at 30 km Jepchirchir had no trouble getting rid of Tusa and Sado.

Jepchirchir took 1st in a PB of 2:23:50, with Sado a distant 2nd in 2:26:45. After 35 km Tusa ran into trouble, stopping and stretching out her legs and losing ground first to Oljira, 3rd in 2:27:11, and then Savina, who ran a PB 2:28:44 for …

61-Year-Old Mariko Yugeta Becomes First 60+ Woman to Go Sub-Three

61-year-old Mariko Yugeta of Saitama has become the first 60+ woman in history to run faster than three hours in the marathon. At the Nov. 3 Shimonoseki Kaikyo Marathon Yugeta ran 2:59:15 for 3rd place, smashing the 60+ world record of 3:02:50 by a wide margin. It was her 99th marathon and just shy of her PB of 2:58:05. When reporters visited her for an interview she was in the middle of a track session with a high school track team, doing a menu of 3000/2000/1000 m intervals in 11:23, 7:22 and 3:33. Yugeta said her daily routine includes 3 minutes standing on an inclined board every morning while brushing her teeth, and that she believes she can run 2:57.

source article:
https://runnet.jp/smp/topics/runnerstv/191118.html
translated and edited by Brett Larner