Skip to main content

Atsushi Sato Honored in Ceremony at His High School

translated by Brett Larner

Beijing Olympics men's marathon team member Atsushi Sato (29, Team Chugoku Denryoku, Waseda University), a native of Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, was honored in a ceremony at Aizu High School on March 14. Sato is the first marathoner from Fukushima Prefecture to make the Olympic team since Kokichi Tsuburaya 44 years ago* and received the warm support of the students and younger runners in his hometown.

Principal Shinichiro Komori addressed Sato, "Seeing you make the Olympics has been a tremendous motivation for all our students. You are the pride of our school." Following a tradition, Sato wrote four kanji representing the words which best reflect his essence on a large card to present to the school. He wrote a phrase meaning, "An honest heart capable of feeling sorrow."

More than 200 students gave Sato their support. 2nd year class president Takehiro Sato (17), spoke on behalf of the student body. "Run without any worries. The whole school is supporting you." Aizu High School track club members added, "Run Beijing with the spirit of the Byakkotai."**

The entire student body sang Aizu High School's anthem together. Sato remembered the words from his own student days, joining in the song and telling students, "I am able to keep running thanks to the support I receive from you all. My gratitude will become a source of confidence as I fight for a medal."

Sato also appeared at the Fukushima Prefectural Government offices the same day. "I have eternal respect for Tsuburaya's memory," he told listeners with honest emotion. "I will put everything I have into getting a medal."

*Kokichi Tsuburaya won a bronze medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic marathon. He afterwards suffered chronic lower back problems and committed suicide in early 1968, leaving an eloquent note in which he apologized for not being able to run any more and thanked family members for the food they had given him during Japan's post-war years of scarcity.

**The Byakkotai were a group of young samurai in the Aizu area who refused to accept the Meiji government and fought the government's forces until the end, finally committing suicide together rather than give in. The people in Aizu still have deep respect for the Byakkotai.


Most-Read This Week

1500 m Olympian Assefa Wins Nagoya, 22-Year-Old Sekine 2:23:07 Debut

Two-time 1500 m Olympian Meskerem Assefa (Ethiopia) ran down favorite Valary Jemeli (Kenya) with 4 km to go to win the 2018 Nagoya Women's Marathon, with the home town crowd wowed by the debut of the latest next big thing, 22-year-old Hanami Sekine (Japan Post).

Supported by three pacers, a lead pack of seven including Assefa, Jemeli, Sekine, Ethiopian Bahraini Merima Mohamed, Saitama International Marathon winner Flomena Cheyech Daniel (Kenya) and top-ranked Japanese women Reia Iwade (Dome) and Rei Ohara (Tenmaya) went through halfway in a decent 1:11:32. This proved too hot for a few of the past next big things to have run well in Nagoya the last few years, as Sairi Maeda (Daihatsu), 2:22:48 in Nagoya three years ago, and Mao Kiyota (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC), 2:23:47 last year, were off the back of the pack in the first 10 km.

By 25 km Cheyech, Ohara and Iwade joined them off the back, leaving only Sekine in contention with the African trio of Jemeli, Assefa and Mohammed. Sekine, a…

Japan Dominates Asian Cross Country Championships

Japan dominated the 14th Asian Cross Country Championships Thursday in Guiyang, China, winning all four team gold medals to hold the hosts China back to silver in every race.

Japan's only individual gold came in the Junior Women's race, one of its usual areas of strength. Yuna Wada led a Japanese sweep of the top four positions to win the 6 km race in 20:43 with scoring teammates Ririka Hironaka and Tomomi Musembi Takamatsu just behind.

Wada Yuna of Japan wins Junior Women’s 6km cross country race of 14th Asian Cross Country Championship . Japan also won Team championship — Asian Athletics (@asianathletics) March 15, 2018
With the meet also serving as China's National Championships Chinese athletes won the individual gold in the other three races, Dan Li, Cairen Suolong and Jianhua Peng all showing better closing speed to beat their Japanese rivals by 3~4 seconds. Li won the Senior Women's 8 km by 3 seconds over Japan's Yukari Abe, leadi…

Japan Names Asian Games Marathon Team

On Mar. 16 the JAAF announced the Japanese marathon team for this August's Jakarta Asian Games. Hiroto Inoue (MHPS) and Hayato Sonoda (Kurosaki Harima) make up the men's squad, with Keiko Nogami (Juhachi Ginko) and Hanae Tanaka (Shiseido) named to the women's team.

A member of the Japanese national team for last summer's London World Championships, Inoue ran an all-time Japanese #4 time of 2:06:54 at February's Tokyo Marathon, the 2nd-placing Japnaese man behind national record setter Yuta Shitara (Honda). Sonoda ran a PB of 2:09:34 to finish in the top Japanese position at 2nd overall earlier in February at the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon.

The silver medalist at November's Asian Championships marathon, Nogami was 5th earlier this month at the Nagoya Women's Marathon in a PB of 2:26:33. Tanaka was next behind her in Nagoya in 6th in 2:27:40, the only member of the Asian Games team not to have yet qualified for the MGC Race 2020 Olympic trials race. A meda…