Daito Bunka University head coach Osamu Nara, 47, spoke with reporters about the condition of 4th-year Kohei Arai. A week ago on Jan. 2 just 200 m into the 21.3 km First Stage of the 2019 Hakone Ekiden Arai twisted his left ankle badly while falling. Arai got up to run the remaining distance of over 21 km on the injured ankle, finishing the stage 8:40 behind the leaders.
Nara told reporters that while there were no broken bones, it is expected to take half a year for Arai to return to competition. Arai is scheduled to join the Sunbelx corporate team in April following his graduation. "In consultation with the team he is joining we have to work to make sure his injury fully heals," said Nara. "We expect that to take around half a year."
At the Hakone Ekiden coaches' pursuit cars do not enter the course until around 10 km into the First Stage. As a result Nara did not see Arai's accident himself and had difficulty judging its severity as the race went on. "Arai indicated to me that he wanted to keep running, but I think that it was a situation where I should have stopped him," the clearly upset Nara admitted. "He is an athlete with a future. I don't know if it's really a good thing that he finished it."
On Jan. 2 just before the race Arai tweeted, "Everything that can be done is done. There's nothing to be afraid of. Whatever will be will be."
やれることはやった。恐れるものはない。— 新井 康平 (@0827Fantasist) January 1, 2019
Two days later after DBU's 14th-place overall finish he tweeted: "Thank you for cheering for us these two days. I'm sorry it had to end up being this kind of result."
2日間応援ありがとうございました。— 新井 康平 (@0827Fantasist) January 4, 2019
translated and edited by Brett Larner