25 January 2021
New Year Ekiden
On January 1, the annual New Year Ekiden was held in Gunma Prefecture, and our athletics club competed in the event. If this year were like most years, I would have gone to Gunma to cheer on our athletics club together with an in-house cheering squad. To prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, however, we had been asked to refrain from rooting for runners from the sidelines along the course this year, leading me to watch the race on TV at home together with my family.
Our team finished 13th, which was below the target of finishing in any of the top eight places, but was up from the last year's result of 16th. In addition, Kazuki Tamura, who ran the third leg, put in an excellent performance, earning him an award commending him as the fastest in the leg. The announcer in the live coverage repeatedly said, "Tamura of Sumitomo Electric," and all my family was very excited at home. He passed incredibly 18 runners and tied the leg record, creating a climax for our team.
Kazuki Muramoto, who ran the fourth leg, further moved up by a rank, making me feel that our team could finish within the top eight at long last. In the world of Ekiden, however, things do not go as expected. The result has made me keenly realize how difficult it is to ensure that all the team runners are free from injuries and are in good condition when competing in a race, as well as to enable all of them to demonstrate their maximum performance. I know that all the team runners worked very hard, but there was a time difference of more than 30 seconds between our team and the eighth team. It seems to me that our team needs something extra to close this gap. I hear that each runner has already reviewed his race performance and renewed his resolution toward next year. I hope that they will work harder so that they can finish next year's race within the top eight. Next year, I look forward to encouraging the team directly from the sidelines along the course with our employees and celebrating the team's finish within the top eight together.
I would like to express my appreciation to all those associated with track and field who operated the event amidst the ongoing difficulties, our club's coach Yasuyuki Watanabe, and all those related to the team. I would also like to express my gratitude to all those who posted comments on our website to support the team. Thank you very much. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Games are scheduled to be held this year. I believe that the members of our athletics club will continue to work hard to qualify for the Olympic Games. I would be grateful if we could continue to receive your support.
Kazuki Tamura, who ran the third leg, was the fastest in the leg and tied the leg record!