Chuo Online

  • Top
  • Opinion
  • Research
  • Education
  • People
  • RSS

Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2013 Summer Issue]>Hot in competitive spirit -Shota Iizuka posts Japan’s 3rd-fastest time ever in the men’s 200 meter dash

Hakumon CHUOIndex


Hot in competitive spirit

~Shota Iizuka posts Japan’s 3rd-fastest time ever in the men’s 200 meter dash~

Shota Iizuka (4th-year student in the Faculty of Law) of the Chuo University Track and Field Team posted a time of 20.21 seconds in the men’s 200 meter dash on May 3rd at the Shizuoka Meet. This is Japan’s 3rd-fastest time ever and would have placed Shota 7th in the finals of last summer’s London Olympics.
Shota also ran 20.31 seconds to win the 200 meter dash on June 9th at the Japanese National Track and Field Championships (Ajinomoto Stadium, Chofu City, Tokyo). This qualified Shota to compete in the World Championships (held in Moscow in August). He is now ready to compete with the world’s best.

“That felt great!” said Shota, reflecting his true feelings straightforwardly. He was all smiles during an interview after the race held in his home prefecture of Shizuoka.

Shota’s stride lengthened as he entered the straightaway after turning the corner. He kept a good tempo with each step and ran strongly, pushing himself away from the other athletes. The result was a 0.24 second improvement on his best time. Shota was extremely pleased with how he ran. “I think that this is a big turning point for me,” he said in expressing how the race added to his confidence.

Shota graduated from Fujiedameisei High School in Shizuoka Prefecture. The stands were packed with his friends and acquaintances. “I am happy that I ran such a good race in front of everyone who came,” he said.

Shota is interviewed for television. Recently, he is the subject of more reporting.

Shota has had his share of frustration. He cannot forget Yoshihide Kiryu (Rakunan High School, Kyoto Prefecture), the 17-year old high school student who ran a 10.01 second 100 meter dash, the 2nd-fastest time ever in Japan. Shota competed against Yoshihide at the Oda Memorial Track and Field Games (April 29th, Hiroshima). Despite running a personal best of 10.25 seconds, Shota’s performance was overshadowed by the attention gained by Yoshihide. “I was blown away by a high school student,” he says with bitterness.

Shota showed his tenacity at the Japanese National Track and Field Championships. He had already satisfied the time requirement for competing in the World Championships. The Japan Association of Athletics Federations independently set a deployment time of 20.29 seconds for men’s 200 meter dash. Running this time would qualify an athlete to complete in the finals at the World Championships. The deployment time is even faster than the 20.52 second time which is designated as A-Class by the International Association of Athletics Federations. The 20.21 which Shota ran at Shizuoka more than qualifies him to compete against the world’s top athletes.

The last step in obtaining eligibility to compete was to complete the finals of the Japanese National Track and Field Championships. “I prepared thoroughly to run my best possible race,” he pledged. The finals were an intense race in which the top 5 finishers all posted times better than the A-Class standard. Even so, Shota won by a wide margin. He was proclaimed the real deal by Kazuhiko Yamazaki, commentator for NHK television and Vice-Chairperson of the Committee to Improve Japanese Athletics.

Learning from the Olympics

The London Games marked the first time for Shota to participate in the Olympics. He returned to Japan with much valuable experience. “I felt that power was more important than technique,” he says. “During the offseason, I spent half of the week strengthening my muscles.”

Race in which Shota became eligible for the World Championships (photograph provided by Chuo University Sports Newspaper Club)

At the Olympics, Shota ran as anchor against the current world champion Usain Bolt (Jamaica) in the men’s 400 meter relay. Shota recognized the need for power in order to run as swiftly as Bolt.

Shota also learned about the mental aspect of competing. “Personally, I run best when I am really nervous. In the past, I have tried hard to run calmly. However, reflecting back, I was really nervous at the World Junior Championships in Athletics. I get really fired up and tap into my adrenaline.”

His eyes open wide, his blood pounds and his heartbeat is at full force. All of his strong 185-centimer, 77-kilogram frame is called into action and the vigor of youth is unleashed. In July 2010, he became the first Asian athlete to win the 200 meters at the World Junior Championships in Athletics. After many twists and turns, Shota now understands how to mentally prepare himself before running.

After leaving the stadium, Shota returns to being a cheerful young man. He was invited as an athlete representative at the Partnership Agreement Ceremony for Attracting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which was held by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

At the Track and Field Workshop held by Chuo University, Shota gave children easy-to-understand instruction on improving their start. When not competing in certain events at intercollegiate championships (Kanto Intercollegiate Games), Shota enters the stands and puts his arms around his teammates’ shoulders in order to cheer on the competing athletes.

The World Championships will be the final highlight in Shota’s life as a university student. “My goal is to run the same 20.21 time that I posted in Shizuoka,” he says while vowing to replicate his outstanding performance. Also, for the first time, Shota believes that he can actually achieve his dream of running a time under 20 seconds.

The following message of quiet confidence was given by Tsuneyasu Sato (Councilor of the Shizuoka Track and Field Association, Vice-Chairperson of the Chubu Track and Field Association), who was a trainer of Shota in high school:

“Shota has good character and is making steady progress. He has a great chance at representing Asian people in the 200 meter finals at the world championships.”

In a final race composed mainly of African runners, Sato sees Shota as more than a representative of Chuo University or Japan. He sees Shota as a representative of all Asian people.

The men’s 200 meter finals at the World Championships (Moscow) start on Saturday, August 17th. Shota will go head-to-head with world record holder Usain Bolt (19.19 seconds).

Japan’s 3 fastest times in the men’s 200 meters
1. 20:03
Shingo Suetsugu (Mizuno Corporation) June 7th, 2003
2. 20:16
Koji Ito (Fujitsu) October 2nd, 1998
3. 20:21
Shota Iizuka (Chuo University) May 3rd, 2013