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A young canoeist who will represent Japan at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games for the first time in 3 seasons

Ms. Yuriko Takeshita

The scene: raging river rapids alongside rich verdure. After her training, Ms.Takeshita stopped her canoe at the riverbank and came over. The river is a raging torrent?isn't it scary? "I was so scared at the beginning, but I got used to it through my everyday training. The sound of water and the view from the canoe make me feel so relieved."

Ms.Takeshita was influenced by her father and started canoeing when she was 8 years old. She made her debut in competition when she was 12 years old. She was chosen to join the junior national team when she was 15 years old. It was then she first hoped that she could win a prize in a world championship. She realized that there would always be someone stronger. "I want to be even stronger." She swore to represent Japan at the next Olympics when she watched the Athens Olympics on TV.

When she was in high school, she often took her canoe and paddles with her to championships abroad. "A canoe weighs about 10 kg. And with the paddles, it's almost the same as the weight limit. That's why I'm so good at compact packing. (Smile)"

At 18, she placed 9th in the section at her last world championship with the national team. It was a new record and for her the first time to compete in the finals. "It was a great experience. But I was 9th out of 10 competitors. It is a pity, but I know the reason why I lost. I must practice more and be stronger," said Ms. Takeshita firmly.

She got the last ticket to the Beijing Olympics in the world championships last year by only 1/100 second. She is determined to get a better record so that she will be able to get the chance to participate in the London Olympics.

"The classes I'm taking at school have been getting more interesting recently," said Ms.Takeshita, "I can analyze the canoe scientifically and then put the results into practice. There is no other school that helps like that. I'm really looking forward to participating in the seminar." "I love mountains and rivers as much as the canoe. Sometime you must come to the cool Mitake Valley to enjoy your holidays," she says with a smile.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms.Yuriko Takeshita

Born in 1988 in Fussa, Tokyo. Graduated from Ouka Jogakuin Women's High School. 2nd- year student at the School of Sports Science, Waseda University. Came in 24th, or 15th on a country-by-country basis, in the world championship in 2007 for slalom and qualified for the Beijing Olympics.