Updated 24 July 2008
Koji MUROFUSHI, Japan (Hammer Throw)
Born: October 1974, Shizuoka Prefecture
1.87m / 99kg
Lives and trains in Aichi Pref.
Team: MIZUNO Track Club
The defending Olympic champion and Asian record holder (84.86) at the Hammer Throw, Koji Murofushi, is the eldest son of Shigenobu Murofushi, who is also known as the “Iron man of Asia.” Shigenobu is a former National record (75.96) holder and four-time Olympian in the event. He was eighth in Munich (1972) and eleventh in Montreal (1976).
The elder Murofushi won five Asian Games titles from 1970 to 1986 and twelve National Championships. His mother, Serafina Moritz, won the Javelin Throw in the 1968 European Junior Championships and represented Romania in the Olympic Games. Yuka, Koji’s younger sister, holds the National record at both the Discus Throw (58.62) and Hammer Throw (67.77). She competed at Hammer in the 2004 Olympics and 2005 World Championships. Yuka, who was born in 1977, also threw Discus in the 2007 World Championships.
Influenced by his father, who turned to coaching after retiring from elite competition (Shigenobu is now a professor at Chukyo University), Koji was raised in an environment where mingling with elite athletes and top coaches were a way of life. Having shown exceptional athletic ability from his youth, Koji participated in various sports in his childhood. In 1990, after entering Narita High School, the well known elite sports high school, Koji started to throw a Hammer seriously.
Koji was guided by two exceptional coaches. His father was teaching him throwing technique while Tsuguo Takita, a well respected coach for junior athletes, was responsible for general physical conditioning. In 1991, his junior year in high school, Muruofushi set a National high school record (68.22) with a 6.35kg hammer. He then improved his record eleven times in six competitions, all the way to 73.52.
Furthermore, with a standard 7.26kg (16lb) hammer, Murofushi recorded eight high school records (including a tie) in five competitions. By 1992, he had extended the record to 66.30.
In 1993, Murofushi entered Chukyo University, where his father is a member of faculty, and promptly set a National junior record (68.00). In 1995, he surpassed 70m for the first time with 71.02 in April and won at the National Championships for the first time in June. His undefeated streak at the National Championships is continuing to this day. He also participated in the World Championships (Göteborg) for the first time in 1995.
After graduating from college in 1997, Murofushi joined Mizuno. In the same year, at the World Championships in Athens, he made the Final, where he finished tenth. As for the record, Murofushi surpassed 75m for the first time in 1997. Then, in April of 1998, he threw 76.65 to surpass his father’s National record, which had lasted 14 years. In subsequent years, Murofushi set eighteen national records in thirteen meetings.
In May of 2000, he won the IAAF GP in Osaka with a throw of 80.23, his first over 80m. Although he finished only ninth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Murofushi extended his National record to 81.08 while surpassing the 80m barrier in five meetings. In July 2001, he set an Asian record of 83.47, thus eclipsing a mark held by Andrey Abduvaliyev by 1cm. The following month he won a silver medal with 82.92 throw in the World Championships, in Edmonton. It was the first throwing medal by a Japanese in either the Olympics or World Championships.
Although he failed to improve his personal best in 2002, Murofushi won the GP Final, one of his goals for the year. After a solid winter training base he moved up a notch in 2003. Although it was merely a training meeting, in his first competition of the year, Murofushi not only threw 82.36 but, for the first time in his life, all his throws were over 80m. Then, in his second meeting of the year, at the IAAF Osaka GP, he was even better. Not only did he throw 82.95 but all his throws were over 81m.
In his third competition, all but one of Murofushi’s throws were over 80m, culminating in 82.67. And, in the National Championships, his fourth competition, he threw 83.29, the third best throw of his career. Then, in June, he competed in the Memorial Josefa Odlozila in Prague. In his fifth throw Koji threw 84.86 thus improving his Asian record. At the time, it was third best throw in history and the best throw in the last fifteen years. He also threw 84.80m in the sixth round.
Based on these results, Murofushi was the favourite going into the World Championships, in Paris. Unfortunately, a month before the championships, he injured his lower back during weight training. To add insult to injury, one week before the Worlds, he fell during the throwing session and banged his right elbow hard onto the throwing circle. In the process he hurt the nerve leading to his ring finger. Despite all these problems, Murofushi decided to compete in Paris and won a bronze medal with 80.12. With this effort, Murofushi was selected to represent Japan in the Athens Olympics.
In Athens, Adrian Annus of Hungary, who threw 83.19 in the third round, was Murofushi’s main competition. Murofushi countered with 82.35 in the fourth round to close the gap. After a foul with his fifth throw, Murofushi threw 82.91, which was not quite enough to overtake Annus. However, a week later the IOC stripped Annus of the gold medal for doping violation.
Murofushi thus moved up a spot to win the Olympic gold medal, which was the first for a Japanese thrower. Furthermore, not only it was the first for Japan in an event other than the marathon since World War II, but it was also the first gold in a men’s event since Naoto Tajima won the Triple Jump in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Although he missed the 2005 IAAF World Championships due to lower back injury resulting from earlier injury to his right lower ribs, in 2006 Murofushi was supreme. Not only he was undefeated in eight competitions from the Golden Spike meeting, in Ostrava in May, to the Super Meet, in Yokohama in September, but Murofushi also won at the World Athletics Final, in Stuttgart, and the World Cup, in Athens. Although he was only sixth with 80.46 in the 2007 World Championships, in Osaka, Murofushi was selected to represent Japan in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games based on his top-eight finish in the Worlds.
In the 2008 season, Murofushi won at the National Championships, his season opener, with 80.98, thus extending a streak at the Nationals to fourteen. Furthermore, on 21 and 27 July, in small competitions at Chukyo University, he recorded throws of 81.87 and 80.34. He is rounding into shape just in time for the Olympics.
Since 1997, besides being an elite athlete, Murofushi was a student of exercise physiology at Chukyo University conducting research on the biomechanics of the Hammer Throw. In March 2008, he was awarded a PhD degree. The superb throwing technique that Murofushi inherited from his father was honed not only through standard biomechanical study, but also through research on movement used in martial arts and other ancient Japanese traditional motion. Furthermore, Murofushi is known to mingle with international athletes and coaches, which is made possible by his English language skills.
In recent years, Murofushi has extended his activities to giving lectures and conducting workshops and clinics on the topics of Hammer Throw. Furthermore, he is a member of the IAAF Athletes’ Commission and is running for the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
Hammer Throw: 84.86, Asian record (2003)
Discus Throw: 44.64 (1996)
Javelin Throw: 68.16 (1992)
Hammer Throw: 1990-57.82(6.351kg); 1991-68.22(6.351kg); 1992-73.52(6.351kg); 1993-68.00 (National Junior record); 1994-69.54;1995-72.32; 1996-73.82; 1997-75.72; 1998-78.57 (National record); 1999-79.17(National record); 2000-81.08 (National record); 2001-83.47 (Asian record); 2002-83.33; 2003-84.86 (Asian record); 2004-83.15; 2005-76.47; 2006-82.01; 2007-82.62; 2008-81.87
1992 8th World Junior Championships
1993 2nd Asian Championships
1994 2nd Asian Games
1995 2nd Asian Championships
1995 q World Championships
1995 15th World University Games
1997 10th World Championships
1997 8th World University Games
1998 2nd Asian Championships
1998 1st Asian Games
1999 6th Word University Games
1999 q World Championships
2000 9th Olympic Games
2000 2nd GP Final
2001 2nd World Championships
2002 1st Asian Championships
2002 1st GP Final
2002 2nd World Cup (9th Discus Throw)
2002 1st Asian Games
2003 3rd World Championships
2003 4th World Athletics Final
2004 1st Olympic Games
2006 1st World Athletics Final
2006 1st World Cup
2007 6th World Championships
2007 3rd World Athletics Final
Prepared by Ikumi Kodama for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2008.