At the Tokyo Olympics, Ryuji Miura from Hamada, Shimane became the first Japanese man ever to place in the top 8 in an Olympic 3000 m steeplechase final, finishing 7th overall. In his first independent interview since the Olympics, Miura talked about his feelings toward his community and of his future ambitions. Hometown fans may be able to look forward to seeing him race in Shimane again very soon.
"I was really nervous in the qualifying heat," says Miura of his opening round race where he ran a national record 8:09.92. "In the final it was more like, 'Let's get it done,' and I was half psyched up and half stressed out. I think the whole atmosphere of it being the Olympics and me having a blast being there helped make this result happen."
Still just 19 and a 2nd-year at Juntendo University, Tokyo was Miura's Olympic debut. What was really noticeable about him before and after the race was how calm and cool he stayed during and after the race, looking totally at home among the big boys of the sport. What's Miura's reality? He expresses it this way. "I'm not like that normally," he says. "I 'm sloppy about some things, and there some things I lack. I always forget to bring things to races. I'm always causing trouble for the team manager."
Back home in Hamada the locals were cheering for his Olympic debut with everything they had. Due to the pandemic Miura hasn't been able to go home to see people afterward, but he knows exactly where he wants to go once he gets the chance. "The first two places I'm going when I get back to Shimane are to my parents' house and to my old track club," he says. "That's where it all started, where I learned that I really like track. It's where coach Sadao Kamigasako first gave me the chance to run the 3000 m steeplechase."
Coach Kamigasako had cried as he watched his former pupil's Olympic success, and he's at the top of Miura's list of people to visit. But there's one more place he'd like to go. "I used to go the seaside park a lot when I was little," he says. "The sunset there is really beautiful. If it's still summer I want to go for a swim there."
Juntendo's ekiden team started fall training on Aug. 18. Looking ahead to this season's Big Three University Ekidens, Miiura is motivated for October's season-opening Izumo Ekiden in Shimane. "I'd be incredibly happy to run on the streets of Izumo," he says. "I don't know what the situation is going to be at that point, but I don't get many chances to be there so if the circumstances make it possible to have the opportunity to run there I totally want to do it."
With three years more experience ahead of him on the track and roads before the Paris Olympics Miura is aiming even higher. "A lot of people have supported me, and I've really picked up on their energy," he says. "If would be great if I could give some of that back to the people of Shimane through my running."
translated and edited by Brett Larner