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The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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The captain of the Track & Field Club commemorating the 100th anniversary of the club’s foundation
Aiming to be the best in Japan with the proud tradition of “W”

Takumi Kuki

Waseda University Track & Field Club has produced many top runners including Mikio Oda, who was Japan's first gold medalist at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Kuki, who was named the captain at the turning point of the club’s 100th anniversary, is also among athletes who joined the club aspiring to become a part of Waseda’s tradition and don its dark red uniform. “I have known since my childhood that Waseda has a strong, well-established track and field club. When I was in my third year at high school, I had an opportunity to hear from the captain of the Track & Field Club. I felt that the club not only is focused on competing at the top level in Japan, but also has its sights set on even greater heights. So, I felt I wanted to take aim on the world stage from here.”

Although Kuki had performed brilliantly in world youth championships and other competitions since high school, he struggled to improve on his personal record in his first year of college. However, he quickly established his ability in a year, achieving a remarkable breakthrough at the Japan Championships in Athletics competition in June 2012. He just missed winning the championship by a margin of 0.01 seconds, but was selected as a member for the 4 × 100-meter relay in the London Olympics three month later. At the mere age of 19, he had punched his ticket to the dream stage that he had been aiming for since he was a child.

Photo provided by: Waseda University Track & Field Club At the Japan Championships in Athletics competition last June, he came in eighth at 10.38 seconds—a disappointing outcome for him.
He is expected to make up for the performance at the All Japan Student Championships in September.

Unfortunately, since he was registered as an alternate at the long-awaited Olympic Games, he did not have a turn to actually run. “The games were the best I have ever seen in terms of the environment, scale and enthusiasm of the crowd. But, I cannot say it was a good experience as I was there just to soak in the atmosphere.” Looking back on the Olympic Games, a strong sense of frustration was reflected in the tone of his voice over the fact that the event was over even though he never ran.

Kuki’s personal best time is 10.19 seconds. The standard qualifying time for world championships is around 10.14 seconds. A mere 0.05 seconds to go. To improve his time, he has devoted himself to his daily training. He needs to appear in races in top physical shape through repeated days of training and adjust setting his sights on the event. He will not be able to break his personal best time if he fails to run perfectly as per his mental imagine. The 100-meter dash is such a stoic, delicate competition. Usain Bolt holds the current world record of 9.58 seconds. For Kuki, it seems that this time lies so far in the future, as it is on the other side of a thick wall. “But it’s exciting. Even after years of training, a race is over in only 10 seconds. Therefore, we sprinters struggle to shave 0.01 second off our time. I have realized by watching the London Olympic Games that I cannot win even though I participate if I am barely selected as a representative member. I have to aim for a much higher level to be accepted and steadily achieve good results in Japan to compete for the Olympics because a thick wall stands before the world stage.”

The Track & Field Club presently is training diligently for the All Japan Student Championships in September. Since this year marks the 100th anniversary, all members have come together to discuss and set a goal to prove that Waseda is the leader in Japan’s athletics. To achieve this goal, it is essential that as many Waseda athletes as possible make it to the podium and win the overall title in track events. “I always feel and greatly appreciate the cheering and support from our alumni and alumnae. That’s why wearing the dark red “W” uniform stirs my passion. I want to hold up this uniform on the podium many times with my feelings of gratitude.”

Embracing Waseda’s 100-year history and gratitude for his senior teammates, he will cause the name of Waseda to reverberate throughout Japan.

At the send-off party for the London Olympics in 2012, with members such as Genki Dean (a 2014 graduate from School of Sport Science), who participated in the same Track & Field Club

Baton passing practice is essential to Kuki, who also runs in relays

Even in the dormitory, he brings the younger members of the club together as the captain and is reliable

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Takumi Kuki
Fourth Year, School of Sport Science

Originally from Wakayama Prefecture, Takumi Kuki graduated from Wakayamakita High School. He started track and field when he was in fourth grade of elementary school, and won back-to-back championships in the 100-meter dash at the Inter-High School Championship track and field meet when he was in high school. He now posts advice regarding methods for sprinting, etc. on a blog that he started with his brother, who was also a track and field athlete.