The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Education > People



This prima donna is a strong lady! The female captain of the Weightlifting Team

Ms. Sayako Maeda

Ms. Sayako Maeda appears in a one-piece uniform. She had participated in ballet for a long period of time, when her family told her about the interesting aspects of club activities. "I wanted to strive towards something in that same way." She tried out a variety of different things, but something just wasn't right. About the same time, she became enamored by the success of Ms. Hiromi Miyake, a weightlifting competitor in the Athens Olympics. Ms. Maeda thought to herself, "I want to try doing that!" but the weightlifting team at her high school was strong, even on a national level. "It wasn't just my parents - all my relatives were worried." It was already September of her second year in senior high school. She consulted her advising instructor, who said, "You can start as a beginner." It was from there that her competitive activities began.

It goes without saying that she wasn't lifting barbells from the moment she started. She began by only lifting a 6kg bar in order to hammer out her form. "Practice was really tough." But she continued to gain strength and managed to place 3rd in the All-Japan Junior Championships. Afterwards, at the encouragement of her instructors, she entered Waseda. She began practicing even harder. It was difficult to keep up with her classes as well, but "I couldn't think about anything other than competitions. Even on my days off, I had trouble getting a good rest." The muscles that supported her bones couldn't keep up, and she ended up suffering breaks.

However, Ms. Maeda needed more than muscle strength. "When my records stopped improving, there were times when it was so hard on me that I wanted to quit." But once she started to have negative thoughts, the barbell wouldn't go up. "If my feelings falter, lifting is impossible." Her mental side also factors into her performance. Furthermore, when she was selected as the female captain, she began to think about the team as a whole. Physical condition and level of motivation varies from teammate to teammate, who are of different divisions. "It is important to think from the perspective of the other person." She said that through this she was able to once again feel the grandness of her teammates. She also said that once she began looking for a job, "I became able to look upon weightlifting in an objective manner." The All-Japan Championships to be held December will be her last competition at Waseda. Of them, she said "There's a rival that I've just got to defeat!" In addition to power and skills, she's also cultivated a number of other abilities. "I want to treasure my feminine side as well, not just my strong side," said Ms. Maeda, showing off a cute expression. Immediately after this interview, she went on to place 1st at the Eastern Japan Collegiate Weightlifting Individual Championships. "To be honest, right now I'm at my best," she stated in a pleasant voice.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Ms. Sayako Maeda

Born in 1987 in Yamanashi Prefecture. Graduated from Yoshida High School and is currently a fourth year student in the School of Commerce. She is participating in the management course of Mr. Makoto Fujita's seminar. She is 146cm tall and is in the 48kg division. She placed first in both the 2008 and 2009 Eastern Japan Collegiate Weightlifting Individual Championships. She placed second in the 2008 and 2009 All-Japan Collegiate Championships. She also placed second in the 2009 Japan Girls' Collegiate Weightlifting Championships. Ms. Maeda and her family enjoy a close relationship, and she goes on family vacations once a year. Her hobby is playing the piano.