On a fine February 2 blessed with early April weather, the 3rd Chuo University Track and Field event was held at the Chuo University Tama Campus athletics field. Running, jumping and throwing, the basic movements of every sport were enthusiastically taught by Chuo athletes. Participating were over 100 third to sixth year primary students, Chuo athletes and Olympians of the future. Wearing prepared red and blue t-shirts, they enjoyed the athletics event on the expansive track and field to their hearts' content.
"Uno, dos, tres, cuatro.That's all I know." In the warm up where the children split into small groups, London Olympian Tetsuya Tateno (400m hurdles, Faculty of Commerce 3rd year) was fired up by a first year student. Kaito Akaishizawa plays soccer, remembering the Spanish his coach always uses, and conducted a rhythm of "1, 2, 3" in flowing Spanish.
While looking at the faces of the eight children in the group Tateno said, "Your thighs are important when you run. You should stretch them here. We'll do it five more times. One, two." The children replied, "It hurts a little but feels good."
Short distance Olympic representative Shota Iizuka (Faculty of Law 3rd year) taught the children how to start. "Your stance is important. To run fast you need a lot of energy. You swing your arms a lot." He showed them how to run in person. The 16 children shouted in awe, "Wow! He's fast! Awesome!" and then listened to Iizuka talk.
It's OK being small
The ekiden team took the long distance class. The 12 future Hakone Ekiden runners were given a real experience of ekiden speed. Hidenori Nagai (Faculty of Letters 2nd year), who was called the Phantom Section Winner in the 8th stage of the return leg, always maintains a 72 second pace for a 400m lap. The primary school runners were astonished at his speed and strengthened their resolve to become an ekiden runner.
Shuhei Shirota (Faculty of Economics 3rd year) gave the children encouragement by saying, "Size has nothing to do with long distance. If you try hard you will become strong. All the Hakone runners weren't fast runners at first," and the children nodded with intention.
The track and field event began at one o'clock in the afternoon. Many other groups, including javelin, long jump and so on, also continued until after four o'clock with the participants rotating around various groups, and concluded with everyone having their time taken over 50m. With children also having their photographs taken with the Olympians and an autograph session, it was an eventful track and field day. On the way home you could hear such conversations between the children and their parents. "I want to be an Olympian too." "I see. Do your best."
Some of the photographs from the day have been posted on the photo gallery page of the ekiden supporters' website. Please take the time to view them if you are interested.
Also, Chuo Sports (Newspaper Club) has covered the track and field event in its blog. Please visit this site as well.