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Two out of six representative students from Japan are from WASEDA
Challenging the World University Triathlon Championships!

Nao Yamamoto
Junpei Furuya

The World University Triathlon Championships (Universidad) is an event to determine the number-one triathlete among university students in the world. Nao Yamamoto and Junpei Furuya of WASEDA University met the selection criteria to participate in the event and were selected to represent Japan. Prior to Universidad, we interviewed the two athletes and asked about their commitment to the sport.

For the triathlon, the total time of swimming (swim), bicycle road race (bike) and long-distance race (run) is also called an iron man race because of its harshness. “I’m often asked, ‘Why do you put yourself through such a tough thing?’ It is physically tough because there are three events, but the joy of winning is overwhelming. I’ve won in track and swimming races, but winning a triathlon is much more pleasing,” Junpei says. “On the starting line, I get tense if the sport is track or swimming, but for a triathlon, I just get excited. For me, it is a fun sport!” Nao says.

2009 Japan Championships in Tokyo Bay. Nao in the midst of running, the toughest part

Nao started triathlon, as she was second in the first event she participated in at the age of seven. She has never been able to forget the joy when she was on the podium, and continued the sport, and belonged to a club team outside school. On the contrary, Junpei devoted himself to track in junior and senior high school, and in third year at high school, his father recommended him to participate in the Triathlon Certification Recording Session. With just 0.1 seconds short, however, he was not selected as designated under the high performance program. His vexation became the turning point to fully devote himself to the triathlon. The two met at the 2009 Asia Triathlon Championships, and now devote themselves to study and practice as WASEDA students. We asked them about mutual impressions. Nao says, “Junpei is an athlete who never gives up in a race. As we compete in three events in triathlon, each athlete has different strong and weak events, so the tables are easily turned. That’s why athletes who never give up can win. His strength lies there,” while Junpei says, “Nao always smiles, but once on the starting line, her look turns sharp and displays a race full of guts. She is so determined.”

They have not only achieved great performances but also felt their human growth through the triathlon. Junpei has learned the importance of thanking others from the manager of the team he belongs to. “As a university student, I strongly feel the value of my parents living separately and supporters. I couldn’t have made it this far alone. I thank people I meet every day.” Nao learned the importance of continued commitment. “Dreams and targets cannot be achieved with superficial commitment. Strong determination will soon lead to action, and become the driving force to get closer to the targeted goal against difficulties and failures.”

Finally, we asked them about their dreams. “I have always dreamt of participating in the Olympics. But as my time to become a working adult is now close, I am thinking about getting a job. Whatever life I will lead, I want to take advantage of what I learned from the triathlon and become a person who can contribute to others. That is my new dream,” Junpei says. “When my friends started job hunting, I felt worried. However, in an event I participated in under those circumstances, I refreshed my feeling that I truly love the triathlon. I decided to devote myself to it until I’m fully satisfied,” Nao says. Saying “Toward the Universidad, we will simply do our best now,” the two are making strenuous efforts toward the far off goal on the stage called life.

Grand final of 2010 World Triathlon Championships. Junpei was consistently offensive even in his first world championships.

Grand final of 2011 World Triathlon Championships. Junpei trying to catch up with other swimmers as he was behind.

2010 Japan Junior Triathlon Championships in Nagara River. Nao exchanging words with her sister.


Nao Yamamoto (right)

Born in Aichi Prefecture. Graduated from Aichi Prefectural Nishio High School. 4th Year, School of Sport Sciences. Her special skill is origami. She has trouble getting a suntan. “In a triathlon, you get badly burnt without sunscreen. But I am the whitest of all the athletes (Laughing).”
Major achievements: Ranked 3rd in the 2011 Japan University Triathlon Championships

Junpei Furuya (left)

Born in Osaka Prefecture. Graduated from Rakunan High School. 3rd year, School of Political Science and Economics. His relaxes by watching DVDs. His favorite film is Fast Five. “I was really impressed by the hero’s line, ‘Money is empty in the end. What matters is the presence of friends.’ (Laughing).”
Major achievements: winner of the 2011 Japanese University Triathlon Championships