Ms. Konomi Asazu
Competitor in Women’s Bobsled at Vancouver Olympics
The Sochi Winter Olympics (Russia) will be held in February 2014.
Konomi Azusa is seeking to compete in her 2nd Olympics as a member of the Japanese women’s bobsled team. Konomi also fulfills the 3 roles of Chuo University staff member, Olympic hopeful, and coach of the Chuo University Women’s Track and Field Team, of which she was formerly a member.
Konomi seeks to achieve satisfactory results in each of her endeavors.
We had Konomi teach us the methods which she currently uses to manage time.
No time?!—There’s plenty of time!
Holding chopsticks skillfully in her left hand, Konomi eats slowly and thoroughly.
Here’s a lesson for people who complain that they don’t have any time. Konomi spends 30 minutes for every meal. Even during hectic mornings, she spends 30 minutes eating breakfast. The Tanita Cafeteria, the well-know employee cafeteria of Tanita Corporation, recommends that diners spend 20 minutes eating their meal. If you try it, 20 minutes seem like a long time.
Despite being right-handed, Konomi holds her chopsticks with her left hand. “I hold my chopsticks this way so that I will eat slowly and thoroughly,” she says. “I feel full when I eat this way. I started doing it when I competed in track and field. Using your left hand also improves balance on both sides of your body. It’s part of my training.” Today, Konomi uses her chopsticks so skillfully that she appears to be left-handed. However, she encountered great difficulty at first.
“Part of my hand used to get really sore.”
Konomi experienced pain in the v-shaped area between her thumb and the base of her index finger. For people not used to eating with their weak hand, mealtime is no longer fun. The irritation might lead most people to give up.
Advance preparation is necessary in order to devote 30 minutes to eating each meal. Konomi never sleeps late and then munches hastily on bread while getting dressed. Instead, she calculates backwards and takes action to ensure that she has plenty of time for breakfast. Konomi goes to bed early. Getting plenty of sleep is part of her training. In order to go to sleep without any worries, she always completes the task at hand within the allotted time. If there is something to be done next, then current tasks cannot be postponed. She heightens her concentration and focuses on the moment.
“When compared to working at an office, it’s like preparing for tomorrow at the end of work today,” Konomi says. She sets priorities and finds what must be done.
First Winter Olympics
Konomi tries her hardest at everything she does. As a track and field athlete, she specialized in the heptathlon. The equivalent event for men is the decathlon.
This heptathlon is acclaimed for featuring only the best athletes. Although a normal person would be challenged by even just one event, these female athletes run, jump and throw. Events include the 100 meter hurdles, 200 meters, 800 meters, high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin.
Konomi placed 2nd at the Japan Track & Field National Championships in 2008. The same year, she dominated the field to finish 1st at the Inter-University Athletic Championships. She began to attract attention as a woman who would lead track and field in Japan.
Konomi preparing to push her bobsled
A turning point in Konomi’s athletic career came when she encountered an event which combined physical strength with the desire to improve. An official of the Winter Olympic bobsled team noticed Konomi. Japanese bobsled team coach Kazuo Ishii spent four years pursing Konomi, from the time that she entered Chuo University.
In the past, other athletes have also converted to competing in the bobsled. From track and field, sprinter Shinji Aoto (faculty member at Chukyo University) represented Japan at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. From among women, Juri Takayama (Toyota Industries Corporation), ace pitcher of the Japanese softball team, was among the finalists to represent Japan at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“I had never even seen a bobsled,” says Konomi, who was born in Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture. The only bobsled course in Japan is located in Nagano Prefecture. Most people have only seen a bobsled during broadcasting of the Olympics, if at all.
In 2009, at the age of 23, Konomi became the Japanese champion in her first season of bobsledding. The following year, she was selected to represent Japan at the Vancouver Olympics. Despite never realizing her goal of competing in track and field at the Olympics, she ultimately represented Japan while riding in a sled that she had never even seen. Konomi placed 16th at the Olympics.
From 70 to 75 kilograms
Konomi’s Olympic experience fueled her competitive fire. From autumn to winter, she competes in the bobsled. From spring to autumn, she competes in and coaches the heptathlon. Konomi’s weight varies for each sport, at 75 kilograms for the bobsled and 70 kilograms for track and field. Once winter ends, she gradually decreases the amount of food that she eats, repeating the cycle of gaining and losing 5 kilograms every year.
In the snow, Konomi pushes a heavy bobsled with her 175 centimeter, 75 kilogram frame. In the spring, she springs lightly over the bar of the high jump.
“Since starting the bobsled, I have the opportunity to speak with many different people. I often meet athletes from other countries, so I want to improve my English,” says Konomi when discussing her focus on studying English. “Better English ability would also help me understand my training more.” It’s just another challenge that Konomi has given herself and another reason for her to manage her time.
Konomi and Misuzu Yoshimura (right) smile after winning the Japan Bobsled National Championships
Even after representing Japan in the bobsled, Konomi still has to pay for almost all of the expenses associated with competing. She participates in many overseas competitions and her annual expenses are approximately 5 million yen. Initially, she received support from her older sister, Yūko Asazu. Yūko, who is one year older than Konomi, plays attacker for the Pioneer volleyball team in the V Premier League. However, Konomi couldn’t depend on her sister forever.
Konomi is now searching for her own sponsor. She writes her own emails to corporations and visits them to explain her situation. “Getting 1 positive response from 100 inquiries would be a great result,” she says. In a tough economic environment, there are few corporations interested in a sport which is almost never broadcast on television. It’s quite different from road-relay races or marathons which are shown on television for 2 hours.
“I’m taking things a little at a time.” Even if her requests for sponsorship are refused, Konomi is gaining new knowledge and learning about society. Instead of existing solely within the athletic world, such interaction with society broadens her perspectives and gives her new motivation.
Working as a Chuo University faculty member, competing in the bobsled, competing in and coaching track & field, searching for sponsors, learning English…Konomi manages her time to achieve all of her goals. People around her may think “wow, you eat slowly” or “oh, you are left-handed,” but it’s really Konomi’s strategy for a 30-minute mealtime. Without hearing Konomi talk, one would never guess that even eating is part of her training.
Provide by HAKUMON Chuo 2013 Spring Issue No. 231