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Moving beyond triple crowns
With an ambition to become a perfect champion to win quintuple crowns

Mr. Yuki Yagi

On January 3, 2011, at the 87th Hakone Ekiden race, a runner with a crimson sash was the first to cross the tape. Though the position of leader in the first half was taken by Toyo University, all team members showed stable running performance and turning the tide of the race in the second half, and won the championship with a difference of 21 seconds from Toyo University, who were second to reach the goal. The team won overall victory for the first time in 18 years and triple crowns of Ekiden races for the first time in the history of Kyosobu! Otemachi was full of joy around the runners of WASEDA. "I thought at any rate we could win, and that was good." Mr. Yuki Yagi, the captain of Kyosobu (Athletic Team) represented how they felt while running, bearing the tradition of Kyosobu and the thoughts of many people.

1,500m final of All Japan Student Championships on September 10, 2010
Yuki Yagi sprinting full of energy (left)

In fact, WASEDA has no Ekiden Team. The participants in Hakone Ekiden were runners of the long-distance block of Kyosobu. Kyosobu has a short-distance block including athletes of throwing events and hurdling. Mr. Masashi Eguchi who won the 100-meter race of the Japan National Championships for two consecutive years (2010 captain of Kyosobu, graduated from the School of Sport Sciences in March 2011) and Mr. Dean Genki (2nd year of the School of Sport Sciences) who made the Japanese record in the junior category in the javelin belong to the short-distance block. Kyosobu is a big team of about 120 members including managers and trainers.

Mr. Yagi who ran the 9th leg of Hakone Ekiden looks back seriously. "Before the race, runners of the short-distance block gave me a send-off party for the first time. Cheers from the unified Kyosobu drove me on very much during the race."

A sense of unity as Kyosobu. This is what Mr. Yagi has been particular about since he joined the team. Back then; though short-distance and long-distance runners practiced at the same place at the same time, they rarely had exchanges. He thought, "What a waste. If we can take advantage of this wonderful environment, we can make Kyosobu much stronger." Mr. Yagi reflects, "If I feel anything is 'wrong,' I think I must do something about it. So when I was a first-year student, I was determined to become captain, remove the barriers between short and long-distance and further develop the unity of the team."

In October of his third year, Mr. Yagi realized his dream and became captain.

After becoming captain, Mr. Yagi changed in how to get along with other members. He talked to them regardless of short or long-distance blocks and had meals together, discussing the team and races. "Seniors could learn many things from juniors as the same athletes and have a good influence upon each other. In fact, I gave much advice about class registrations (laughing)."

Since March 2011, he talked to the manager of the team, and changed the rooming at the dormitory. He decided to allocate players of short and long-distance blocks in the same room. Putting runners with different cultures in the same room also has a risk. "Short and long-distance runners have different life rhythms, so they go to bed and wake up at different hours. Even so, I judged that the advantages of creating an environment where they could mutually understand each other would be more important."

The more the exchanges they made, the better the performance of the team has become. We expected Mr. Yagi would be filled with a sense of accomplishment, but his answer was unexpected. "Not at all. Honestly speaking, I was not fully pleased even when we won Hakone last year. WASEDA Kyosobu must be a group that leads the Japanese circle of athletes. I think I'm not satisfied because I haven't been able to make an effort for that goal to my heart's content. As an athlete and as a captain, I want to do what I can do completely. This year I want to become a perfect champion to win quintuple crowns, not just student triple crowns including victory in the Inter College Championship. If I can make it, I want to cry from the bottom of my heart. To achieve it, I'll do my best with all my might!"

Supper at the dormitory. Yusuke Mita who ran the 7th leg of the 87th Hakone Ekiden (front) and Yagi (center)

Runners in the short-distance block are also active!
Photo shows Dean Genki.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Yuki Yagi

Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1989. Graduated from Nishiwaki Technological High School. Fourth year of the School of Sport Sciences. 2011 Captain of WASEDA Kyosobu. Active as a long-distance runner in his high school days and won the 5,000-meter race at the 2007 National Athletic Meet. As a WASEDA student, he finished the 1,500-meter race in second place and the 5,000-meter race in fifth place at the 2010 Japan Inter College Championships. Ever since entering WASEDA, he has run the Hakone Ekiden race for three consecutive years, and recorded the second best time for the 9th leg of the race in 2011. His favorite author is Keigo Tono. Favorite food is deep-fried pork cutlets. And his idolized singer is Yuko Oshima of AKB48. "I like Yuko Oshima as a person rather than the group. Her openhearted character is great. But above all, she is so cute. I want to say this to her personally (laughing)."