“What is the most important thing?” Answer from Yuya Sawada, Hamamatsu City, who knows the world

Yuya Sawada (3rd year) of Hamamatsu City (Shizuoka)

What should you look for when deciding on a career path? Over the past year, Yuya Sawada (3rd year) of Hamamatsu City (Shizuoka) has been faced with a problem that many high school students face. What made her different from others was that her choice was “America.” Competing, studying, or… “What is most important to me?” After thinking about her mid- and long-distance hopes, she came up with an answer.

 <“High School Ekiden: What to Watch” introduces the stories of notable male and female athletes at the National High School Ekiden, which will be held on December 24th.>

“Perfectly synchronized” with African players

 In March 2023, Sawada was at Louisiana State University in the US. He traveled to the United States during spring break and toured the country’s extensive facilities, including track and field stadiums and training grounds. Armand Duplantis (Sweden), a graduate of the university and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics men’s pole vault gold medalist, happened to be there to practice, and I had the opportunity to take a commemorative photo with him. He felt firsthand the atmosphere of a sports powerhouse.

 Last August, Sawada made a spectacular “world debut.” She was in the women’s 1500m final at the U20 World Championships in Colombia. She bravely attacked the African racers and she finished in 6th place. She set a good record of 4 minutes 12.87 seconds, which ranks second in Japan’s U20 history.

 ”His leg movements were perfectly synchronized with the Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes he ran with.” This is the testimony of Hamamatsu City coach Masahiko Sugii (60), who is also in charge of training and development for the Japan Association of Athletics Federations. The dynamic swinging motion of the hip joint generates propulsive force, and the force does not escape when the foot makes contact with the ground. It made me feel like there was great potential.

“What is the most important thing?” Answer from Yuya Sawada, Hamamatsu City, who knows the world

 It seems that overseas track and field officials had the same expectations. After his return, he was approached by scouts from several American universities who highly valued his potential.

 Student sports are popular in the United States, and it is not uncommon for universities to have professional-quality facilities. Louisiana State University was one of them, but it was one coach who captured Sawada’s heart. Coach Houston Franks teaches middle and long distance and cross country. He volunteered to act as a guide during the tour, and I was struck by how passionately he explained his coaching philosophy, which respects each player’s individuality. “He seems like a kind and nice person.”

Hamamatsu City is a preparatory school

 I have always liked English. Hamamatsu City is a preparatory school, and Sawada was considering a foreign language department at a Japanese university as one of his career options. He was also interested in studying abroad, unrelated to competitions, and had a vague idea of ​​“a job that uses English” as his future vision.

“What is the most important thing?” Answer from Yuya Sawada, Hamamatsu City, who knows the world

 However, it took some time to make up my mind. The heat damage he sustained at the World Cross Country Championships in Australia in February of this year was hard to shake off, and he subsequently hurt his left shin. The summer national high school competition to determine the “best high school in Japan” will be absent. She had lost confidence and thought, “The world is far away.”

“I run alone, but I’m not alone.”

 It was the sight of his predecessors that pushed him forward in Hamamatsu City.

 One day in summer. I happened to watch a program introducing Kitaguchi Shinka (25) (JAL), who won the gold medal in the women’s javelin throw at this year’s World Championships.

“What is the most important thing?” Answer from Yuya Sawada, Hamamatsu City, who knows the world

 When Kitaguchi was in a slump as a student, he asked a coach from the Czech Republic, a major javelin thrower, to coach him and made his breakthrough across the ocean. He is a senior member of the Japan Athletics Federation’s “Diamond Athlete” team, which trains the next generation of promising athletes, and he seemed similar in some way to me, who was thinking of taking on challenges overseas.

 “What is most important to me?”

 I asked myself this question again. What came to mind was the presence that made me stronger in Hamamatsu City.

 During my junior high school days, I belonged to the basketball club. Ryota Swayanagi (35), the track and field club advisor, recognized his athletic ability, and he joined the multi-club “ekiden club” in his first year. He received “practice that seems impossible, but if you try hard, you can do it,” and was happy to be praised for achieving his goals.

 In high school, he was taught by Coach Sugii, who respects the independence of players, and honed his speed, which led to him competing on the world stage.

 ”I’ve been blessed with good coaches so far. I think it’s better to focus on meeting people when choosing a university.” With that conclusion, I decided to attend Louisiana State University.

 Enrollment is expected in fall 2024. In order to enroll her, she is required to achieve a certain level of English proficiency, and she is currently studying for that. Even after entering university, it is essential to balance it with schoolwork, but he is enthusiastic and says, “I want to learn various things.”

 This will be his first participation in the National High School Ekiden in two years. Having learned the joy of running, I have a strong passion for relay races. in Hamamatsu City.

 ”Even when I’m having a hard time, I can do my best knowing that my friends are waiting for me. I run alone, but I’m not alone.”

 I intend to firmly pass on the sash of courage to my juniors. [Hiroshi Ishikawa]

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