Chuo Online

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

Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2015 Autumn Issue]>THE SPRINTERS: Swift running of Taniguchi and Suwa

Hakumon CHUOIndex

THE SPRINTERS: Swift running of Taniguchi and Suwa

As fast as the wind, Kotaro Taniguchi (third year, Faculty of Commerce) and Tatsuo Suwa (third year, Faculty of Law) are notorious sprinters in the Chuo University Track and Field Team. It is said that events which appear the simplest are actual the deepest. This interview will introduce two athletes who live in a world where one-tenth of a second can seem like an eternity. (student reporter group)

Competing with the world in an individual event

Kotaru Taniguchi

Kotaru Taniguchi
Graduate of Yaei Senior High School, Kanagawa Prefecture
Height: 184 centimeters, Weight: 79 kilograms

4 X 100 Meter Relay
☆Word Relays: Bronze Medal (Anchor)
☆Universiade (Korea): Gold Medal (Anchor)
☆Japanese Intercollegiate Championships: Third Consecutive Victory by Chuo University (Second Runner)

Speaking at entrance ceremony as a representative of new students

Taniguchi representing new students at the 2013 entrance ceremony. At right is former President & Chancellor Fukuhara.

At the April 2013 entrance ceremony, Gymnasium No. 1 on the Tama Campus was fully packed with students and their parents. As everyone looked on, Taniguchi made his way onto the stage as a representative of new students. Facing former President & Chancellor Tadahiko Fukuhara, Taniguchi recited a pledge on behalf of new students. Even today, Taniguchi recalls that scene with a smile.

“I was more nervous for the entrance ceremony than I was for the world relays,” he laughs.

In May of this year, the World Relays were held in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. This newly-established track and field championship features competition among countries and regions.

Even before the World Relays started, the Japan team experienced a series of problems from the stage of selecting athletes. Top runners were forced to withdraw due to injuries, and the team suffered even more injuries after arriving in Nassau. The selection of athletes was thrown into turmoil.

This presented an opportunity for athletes who were rapidly up and coming. Taniguchi, a sprinter at Chuo University, was selected to represent Japan in the 4 X 100 meter relay. Moreover, he was selected to run as anchor, a position which has a large effect on the outcome of the race. Taniguchi had experienced international competition in 2014 at the Continental Cup held in Osaka.

After finishing the preliminaries in second place, the Japan team prepared to compete in the finals. Taniguchi received the baton at approximately the same time as the Jamaica team. His opponent was Usain St. Leo Bolt, the current world record holder. “Bolt doesn’t seem human,” laughed Taniguchi while expressing his awe at the world’s fastest man.

One of Taniguchi’s strengths as a sprinter is that he is able to concentrate on his own running even when competing against a stronger opponent. He is not afraid of anything. Despite the pressure of competing for a medal, Taniguchi ran with confidence in the finals and the Japan team finished third. His team had captured Japan’s first bronze medal since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

As a result, the Japanese team won the right to participate in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, an honor given to teams finishing in the top eight. America finished in first place, while Jamaica finished second.

In July, Taniguchi visited Gwangju City in Korea for the 2015 Summer Universiade, an international competition held in summer for university students. Taniguchi continued his strong running from this season, and was selected to represent Japan at the Universiade in two events: an individual event and the relay.

As expected, the team captured a gold medal in the 4 X 100 meter relay, which has also been Japan’s specialty.

“I was so happy to have a chance to run with these teammates,” said Taniguchi, who was joined by Suwa, another sprinter at Chuo University. The two other runners were selected from Hosei University, and everyone was a third-year student. Everyone got along well and the team had a positive atmosphere.

In the finals, Taniguchi was able to calmly view how the race developed from his position as anchor. The first runner, Kazuma Oseto (Hosei University), ran at about the same pace as other teams. The second runner, Takuya Nagata (Hosei University), built a slight lead, while the third runner, Suwa (Chuo University), picked up the pace even further.

“I sensed victory while watching my teammates run,” said Taniguchi. All that was left was for Taniguchi to maintain the lead—but he built an even greater gap between the other runners. Focused on driving forward with all of his speed, he crossed the finish line in first place.

Everyone had run a perfect race. “We were able to win because each sprinter ran his best race,” reflected Taniguchi. It seems that capturing the gold medal was the natural result of each athlete focusing on his own running.

Showing sportsmanship

The comment posted by Taniguchi on SNS after the race attracted great attention.

“The five of us captured the gold medal.”

Who is the fifth member? Actually, there was one more member of the Japanese team: Yuki Koike (Keio University), who had suffered an injury in the preliminary race. He was the fifth member.

The presence of Koike was felt during the finals. The consideration shown by Taniguchi to a teammate who was unable to stand on the winners' podium resulted in even more attention for the Chuo sprinter.

“The most important thing for me is that Koike is also happy,” said a blushing Taniguchi when asked about the positive response to his texting.

Changing sports from a youth baseball player

Taniguchi first competed in track and field when he was in the second grade of junior high school. He had been encouraged to participate by the track and field coach. Before that, he had been the ace pitcher and cleanup for the baseball team. Taniguchi was always a natural athlete.

After joining the track and field club, Taniguchi quickly adapted to the new sport and improved his running. During his third year at junior high school, he competed in the 200 meter finals at the Junior Olympics (held by the Japan Association of Athletics Federations, etc.) and other nationwide events. The Junior Olympics were also the first time that Taniguchi met Suwa.

Taniguchi attended Yaei Senior High School, which is known for its competitive track and field club. When competing at the National Sports Festival during his first year at high school, Taniguchi failed to win national honors, while Suwa shined. In fact, Suwa finished second place in the 100 meter dash for the Boys B Group of the Chiba National Sports Festival (from third grade of junior high school to first grade of high school). Suwa was proclaimed to be a new star by track and field officials.

“At that time, Suwa was known as one of the top four athletes in high school track and field,” recalls Taniguchi. “I was really in awe of him.” However, Taniguchi first showed his own ability during the Inter-school Athletics Competition held during his third year. Taniguchi finished third in the 200 meters dash. It was then that Taniguchi realized that he could successfully compete on a national level.

Taniguchi’s performance after entering Chuo University is astonishing. After just one year, he finished second at the Japan Inter-University Individual Championships. His time in the 200 meter dash last year was 20.45 seconds, which was a good record. He was also part of the Japan’s top university 4 X 100 meter relay team.

There are many male Japanese athletes who compete in short-distance sprints. In the grade below Taniguchi is Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo University). There is also the 16-year old Hakim Sani Brown (second-year student at Josai University Senior High School, Tokyo), who won the 100 and 20 meter dash at this year’s World Youth Championships in Athletics held in Cali, Columbia. The battle to represent Japan is fierce, including older athletes. However, Taniguchi isn’t overly concerned with what is happening around him.

“I am confident that I can run in the finals of individual events at international competitions,” said Taniguchi with great resolve. “I will eventually be the equal of any other runner.”

At the intercollegiate championships held in Osaka in September, Chuo University was expected to win its third consecutive victory in the 4 X 100 relay. Taniguchi helped give his team the edge as the second running. After the last Chuo runner crossed the finish line, Taniguchi raised a Chuo University flag bearing a “C” mark. Rather appearing joyful, his expressions seems to more calm (see photograph on next page). Indeed, with Suwa (first runner), Masafumi Naoki (third runner; fourth-year student at Faculty of Law), and Yu Onabuta (anchor; fourth year student at Faculty of Law), Chuo University has a high level of runners specializing in short distances.

Next year is the season of the Rio De Janeiro Olympics. Taniguchi is practicing hard every day with the goal of earning the right to compete in the 200 meters dash, his specialty. “The best part of my race is how I accelerate straight after turning the corner,” he said with confidence.

Standing 184 centimeters tall and weighing 79 kilograms, Taniguchi has been blessed with the body of an athlete. He uses his athleticism to run so dynamically that it is breathtaking to behold. He will undoubtedly run many great races in the future.

Student reporter: Takuma Nishimura (third-year student, Faculty of Economics)

Running my best race

Tatsuro Suwa

Tatsuro Suwa
Graduate of Yokkaichi Technical High School (Mie Prefecture)
Height: 177 centimeters; Weight: 70 kilometers

4 X 100 Meter Relay
☆Universiade (Korea): Gold Medal (Third Runner)
☆Japanese Intercollegiate Championships: Third Consecutive Victory by Chuo University (First Runner)

The heroes who posted Chuo University’s third consecutive victory in men’s 4 X 100 relay at the intercollegiate championships. From left, Suwa, Taniguchi, Naoki, Onabuta. Photograph taken at the Yanmar Stadium Nagai, Osaka

Suwa competed in the Universiade as the third runner in the 4 X 100 relay, helping his team to win the gold medal. In addition to his performance in races, we hoped to gain insight toward the personality of this fine sprinter during our interview.

Suwa first started competing in track and field when he was in the third grade of elementary school. Initially, he started because he was invited by a friend. While in elementary school, he belonged to a local club team. Suwa continued to participate in track and field all throughout junior high school, high school, and university. He specializes in short-distance races. Thanks to the hard work which he has put in over the last twelve years, he has posted outstanding results at the Junior Olympics, the Inter-school Athletics Competition, and the National Sports Festival.

In 2010, Suwa finished second at the Chiba National Sports Festival. “Even I was surprised at the personal record which I posted,” he recalled. Since then, Suwa has attracted attention as one of the top track and field athletes in Japan.

Student reporters started by asking Suwa how he copes with the pressure of representing Japan in his races.

“If I run my best race, good results will follow,” said Suwa. “I am not overly conscious of representing Japan when I run.”

Suwa made this statement with great confidence, and he doesn’t show any sign of nervousness when running. He has posted outstanding results at competitions where many runners would crumble under pressure. Behind this confidence is Suwa’s philosophy of triumphing over himself. By continuing his difficult daily practice regime, he has acquired great belief in his ability.

Focusing on the start

When competing in international competitions, Suwa sometimes runs in the same races as gold medalists including world-record holder Usain Bolt. However, Suwa is not intimidated by such star athletes. Instead, he is constantly focused on running his own best race.

Although it may seem that Suwa spends all of his daily life thinking of nothing but running, that isn’t always the case. After practice, he enjoys joking around with his teammates. Suwa is a normal student; he experiences the joy and disappointment of test results and gets excited about the latest television programs.

Next, reporters asked Suwa if he has a special routine which he follows before races. “No, nothing special that I follow every time,” he revealed. “I don’t want to get obsessed with following the same routine, so I actually try not to make one.” The secret behind Suwa’s strength may be how he trusts his feelings when he runs.

In the men’s 100 meter dash at the Korean Universiade, Suwa was disqualified for a false start, something which he hasn’t experienced much. Indeed, Suwa’s biggest strength is his explosion off the start line. He has always had great confidence in his start and was shocked by the disqualification. “It left me dazed,” he said with a bitter laugh. “Even so, I wanted to use the mistake to my advantage at international championships.” Suwa certainly doesn’t dwell on past mistakes.

Despite being disqualified in his individual event, Suwa ended up starting slightly early when competing as the third runner in the 4 X 100 relay. “I was overexcited and started a little early,” he laughed.

In order to compete against more experienced runners, Suwa is currently refining his start to be an even greater strength. Thanks to his great start, Suwa was selected as the first runner for the Chuo team which won its third consecutive victory at the intercollegiate championships. Suwa has also competed in the international Universiade. His immediate goal is next year’s Rio De Janeiro Olympics. I look forward to seeing a gold medal around the neck of one of my classmates on campus.

Student reporter: Shunsuke Yamada (third-year student, Faculty of Law)

Q&A sessions with Taniguchi and Suwa

――Taniguchi, what was the first track and field event that you competed in? Probably a short-distance race, right?

Student reporters conducing an interview. From left, Nomura, Yamada and Nishimura.

Taniguchi Actually, it was the long jump.


Taniguchi The coach at my junior high school invited me to compete in the long jump. Unfortunately, the results weren’t so good (haha)! So, I ended up changing to sprinting.

――What is your impression of each other?

Taniguchi Suwa is a well-known runner, so I had heard of him.

Suwa I had hear of Taniguchi before we entered Chuo University together.

――Do you have a sense of rivalry toward each other?

Taniguchi Once we are standing at the start line, we are rivals. But normally, we hardly ever talk about running. There isn’t any tension during our practices at the University.

――What was it like returning to Japan after the Korean Universiade?

Suwa My mother sent me a Line message that read “Congratulations.”

Taniguchi Actually, there wasn’t a special reaction from the people around me. My mother just sent me a normal message—“I’ll meet you at Haneda Airport.” (haha)

――Do you have any special “victory meal” as a jinx that you eat before competitions?

Suwa  I live in a dormitory, so I eat whatever is served. My “victory meal” would probably be curry and rice, since it’s my favorite meal!

Taniguchi I eat whatever I want. I don’t like setting rules for what I must and must not eat. Of course, I am careful not to eat too much.

Layout/Student reporter: Mutsumi Nomura (third-year student, Faculty of Law)

Be grateful for the opportunity to run

During the interview, Suwa and Taniguchi often used the word “grateful.” At meetings and during daily practice, Shuya Nomura, Director of the Track and Field Club and Professor at Chuo Law School, talks about being “grateful for the ability to run.” Relay events are won through a true team effort which includes supporting athletes. The feeling of gratitude is conveyed when passing the baton. Indeed, Chuo University’s three consecutive victories are packed with the “feeling of thankfulness.”

The relay race was decided when anchor Onabuta came from behind to overtake first place during the last five meters of the race. As fans of Chuo University erupted into cheers, there was the smiling face of Director Nomura.

“I was shocked to see this photograph from a race that I ran in junior high school.”—When looking at a snapshot from one of his past races, Suwa realized that Taniguchi was also in the picture. At that time, the two were still young men competing in track and field in Mie Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture. Although they didn’t know each other at the time, they were linked by their outstanding performances. This nostalgic photograph was the beginning of the history between the two sprinters.

Prior to the Korea Universiade, the Japanese team received an emergency notification from local officials instructing them to wear masks as a countermeasure to MERS. MERS stands for “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome” and raises concerns regarding the spread of the Coronavirus. The first infected person was confirmed in May. MERS has resulted in numerous deaths and caused a major crisis in Korea.

“Even so, the Japanese team was the only one wearing masks,” recalled Suwa. “Athletes from other countries didn’t appear concerned.”

“Disinfectant hand wash was placed at the entrance of the cafeteria, said Taniguchi. “Overall, it didn’t affect our daily life that much.”

Fortunately, MERS didn’t cause any major complications. In July, the Korean government declared that the disease had been contained.


The Universiade is an international competition for university students. This year’s summer games were held in Gwangju City, Korea during a twelve-day period from July 3 to July 14. Gwangju City has a population of about 1.45 million people. In April 2002, Gwangju became a sister city with Sendai City.