Paris Olympics marathon team member Akira Akasaki is the first man from Kumamoto to make an Olympic marathon since the father of Japanese marathoning Shizo Kanakuri 100 years ago. Akasaki finished 2nd in October's Olympic marathon trials to make the Paris team, only the second man from Kumamoto prefecture to ever make an Olympic marathon team after Kanakuri at the 1924 Paris Olympics.
On Nov. 6 Akasaki visited the town of Tamana in Kumamoto to pay his respects at the great Kanakuri's grave. At Tamana City Hall he was greeted by applause from city workers. Akasaki's coach at the Kyudenko corporate team, Kazuharu Takai, and his Takushoku University-era coach Masahiro Okada, were also in attendance to celebrate his achievement.
Afterward Akasaki visited Kanakuri's grave to pay his respects and inform the legend's spirit that he will be running in the Olympics too. "Kanakuri was the creator of the Hakone Ekiden, and I was lucky to run it four times," said Akasaki. "I'm very glad to have been able to accomplish many things through Kanakuri's vision."
translated and edited by Brett Larner