The rising teenage star of Japanese sprinting and 2015 world U18 100m and 200m champion, who this past season improved his personal bests to 10.05 and 20.32, talks about the difficulty of overcoming a lack of training facilities during his high school years.
Accepting the ways things are
“I grew up in Tokyo, which is massive city with a huge population. It is not always easy to find a training track within close proximity and that was the case for me as the nearest track I could train at was some 40-50 minutes away from my school. Not only that, but when I did try out for training at the track, it was often overcrowded with many other budding athletes opting to train there.
“As you can imagine this scenario was not ideal. It limited our training methods and routines. I really needed good variety as part of my training programme, but this was hard to achieve.
“My coach at the time was always a huge help in terms of keeping me motivated and on track. He researched many different types of training to improve me and help me mentally cope with the training difficulties.
“It was also very difficult to train at school. The school grounds were only the size of about three tennis courts and some days when other sports used this area I did not have a place to train. I was sometimes forced to carry out my strides and exercises on the street.
“This was understandably a difficult period for me, but I just kept telling myself it does not matter where I carry out my training or how I am being challenged, success comes down to the hard work and motivation to be faster. I did no see the training as strange or odd. That was just how it was!
“As difficult and challenging as this was I look back on this period not thinking of this as a handicap. I simply trained so hard, it gave me confidence. However, today I fully appreciate the training environment I enjoy at the University of Florida. I am very thankful to have a nice 400m track for training.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF