A native of Tokamachi, Niigata, Tokyo Olympics men's marathon team member Yuma Hattori sat for an interview on Sept. 13 about his thoughts on his Olympic race and the future. "After every race up to this point, no matter what, I always felt that I'd lost to myself, that I hadn't been able to beat myself when I looked back at it afterward," he said. "At the Olympics this time my results where what they were, but I think this is the only race I've run where I can say that I defeated myself."
At the Olympics, Hattori ran in the lead group until mid-race. Then, announcers made the call: "Hattori is losing touch." Right around halfway he started to fall back from the leaders. "At around 22 or 23 km it felt like my footstrikes were getting heavier," he recalled. "Normally I'd try to stay with someone who was passing me and to match their rhythm, but I couldn't even do that, so I knew something was wrong."
The temperature at that point was 28˚C with 80% humidity, tough conditions that forced 30 people to drop out. But despite the conditions, Hattori persevered. Experiencing heat stroke and knee pain, he staggered down the home straight but made it to the finish line. "Three years from now if I play an active role in the next Olympic marathon then I'll know that fighting my way through this race wasn't a wasted effort," he said. "Between now and then I want to move forward in a way that'll show that finishing this one made me stronger."
Turning his time on the biggest of stages to his advantage, Hattori aims to gradually build his training back up and to return to racing at the end of the year.
translated by Brett Larner