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Waseda University Track & Field Team Members Hiromu Yamauchi (400m Hurdle) and Ito Rikuya (4 x 400m Relay) Selected to Compete at Olympics

Yamauchi: “I’m here thanks to my track and field teammates who pushed me along the way.”

Yamauchi running at the Japan National Championships in June 2021 (Kyodo News)

On July 2, the Japan Association of Athletics Federation announced that Hiromu Yamauchi (4th year student at the School of Sport Sciences) and alumnus and former team captain Ito Rikuya (2021 graduate of School of Sport Sciences, sponsored by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation) have been selected as additions to the roster of athletes to compete at the Olympics. Yamauchi was selected to compete in the 400m hurdle and Ito in the 4 x 400m relay, based on world rankings announced by World Athletics on July 1. Suguru Osaka (2014 graduate of School of Sports Sciences, sponsored by Nike) has also been selected to compete in the men’s marathon, bringing the total number of athletes from Waseda’s track & field team to compete at the Olympics to three (plus one substitute).

Japan’s team won the silver medal in the men’s 4 x 400m relay at the World Athletic Relays in May. Ito is pictured on the right. (Reuters, Kyodo)

Although she was not a member of Waseda’s track and field team, Asuka Terada (2017 graduate of the School of Human Sciences internet degree program) was also selected to compete at the Olympics in the women’s 100m steeplechase.

At the starting line from “Waseda to the World”

Q&A with Yamauchi

−−How does it feel to be selected to compete at the Olympics?

I was inspired by what Coach Shigeo Iso said: “From Waseda to the World.” These words have motivated me since enrolling in Waseda. As a member of Waseda’s track and field team, I feel like I’m at the starting line “from Waseda to the world,” and that the true competition is to come. I’m proud to compete at the Tokyo Olympics as a Waseda student and representative of Waseda University’s track and field team.

−−How do you hope to apply what you’ve learned on the track and field team on the Olympic stage? 

In terms of improving my athletic skills, I’ve learned a lot. But I also learned about the personal attributes needed to reach the top level of competition, which I learned through my coaches and teammates. I think I’ll receive more attention now that I’ve been selected to compete at the Olympics, so I’ll make sure to apply what I’ve learned, and stay humble and sincere as I prepare for the competition.

−−Is there something you would like to say to your teammates?

I’m here thanks to my track and field teammates who pushed me along the way. I will compete as a representative of the track and field team without forgetting my gratitude to them.

−−Do you have a message for your former captain Ito, who was also selected to compete?

When I entered Waseda, Ito was already competing with his sights set out on the world. He represented Japan many times, so he was on a different level, but he was someone nearby to aspire to. I’m extremely happy to be able to compete with him on the same stage at the Tokyo Olympics. I will try my best and learn from him.

Ito and Yamauchi: Training leaders amid the pandemic

Q&A with track and field Coach Iso

−−How do you feel about the announcement as someone who mentored them as track and field coach?

I don’t think the limitations of the pandemic negatively affected our athletes’ training. In fact, online tools have allowed us to examine the theories of individual competitions and breakdown performance footage, which has enabled us to analyze performance records and placements as well as other competitive aspects individually or in groups. Furthermore, most members now understand the training content and can carry it out. The two athletes selected to compete at the Olympics led these efforts.

I think their chances differ. Yamauchi, who is a current member of the track and field team, was selected because it’s 2021. However, if it was 2020, Ito could have likely competed in both the individual 400m and the 4 x 400m relay.

−−What kinds of athletes are Yamauchi and Ito?

Both athletes have gone from “pupils” who learn passively to “students” who learn actively. Their shared Waseda experience has allowed them to use their track and field skills to produce results. I believe their performance at the Olympics will show whether their individual attributes will affect the global competitive community.

−−What are your expectations of both athletes?

On behalf of Waseda and its dark red school color, I hope they perform earnestly as representatives of Japan. Placing isn’t easy, but when I think about how much they have grown since high school, I realize it’s within reach, and I want them to think the same.

List of Waseda University Track and Field Athletes to Compete at the Tokyo Olympics

・Suguru Osaka (2014 graduate of School of Sport Sciences): men’s marathon
・Kobayashi Kai (2015 graduate of School of Social Sciences): men’s 50km racewalking (substitute)
・Ito Rikuya (graduate of 2021 at School of Sport Sciences): men’s 4 x 400m relay
・Hiromu Yamauchi (4th year student at School of Sport Sciences): men’s 400m hurdle

Alumni Rikuya Ito and Asuka Terada Informally Selected to Represent Japan in Athletics at Tokyo 2020!

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