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Waseda celebrates the Rio Olympic and Paralympic athletes

On October 15, Waseda University held a ceremony at the Masaru Ibuka Auditorium for the sixteen student and alumni athletes, including five medalists, who competed in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The sixteen Waseda athletes

Before starting the ceremony, Masao Iwai, director of the Athletic Center, gave his condolences and led a moment of silence for the student who recently passed away in a glider accident. Then, the athletes took the stage to the rhythm of “Azure Sky,” Waseda’s unofficial anthem, and the audience joined in within a loud round of applause after an opening act Waseda’s Cheerleading Squad. University President Kaoru Kamata welcomed and congratulated the athletes on their achievements. “Not only the Waseda community but the entire Japanese nation was blown away by your performances in Rio. I am very proud that many Waseda students and alumni have accomplished so much on this world’s stage.”

University President Kaoru Kamata

The 16 athletes reflected back on their experience and expressed their gratitude as well as their regrets. They also spoke enthusiastically about their aspirations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Mr. Junichi Kawai, chairman of the Japan Paralympic Committee and a 2005 graduate of the Graduate School of Education, received the Athletic Center Director Award at the ceremony for his induction on September 9 to the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame as the first Japanese athlete. This award is dedicated to those who embody the spirit of Waseda Sports. It honors their exemplary performances as competitive athletes and coaches, domestically and internationally, even after graduation. The award also distinguishes the outstanding contributions by Waseda athletes who act globally for a better society through sports.

Junichi Kawai

Furthermore, Isao Muraoka, Vice President for Promotion of Sports and Olympic/Paralympic Projects, mentioned how Waseda is committed to support athletes preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics through education, research, and intense training.

Isao Muraoka, Vice President for Promotion of Sports and Olympic/Paralympic Projects

At the end, the athletes and audience sang the alma mater together and got ready for a fresh start, looking forward to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. This celebration was sponsored by Waseda University’s Promotion of Sports and Olympic/Paralympic Projects section of the Office of the President and the Athletic Center.

Comments from the athletes
Rio Olympics
Swimming

Daiya Seto, 4th year student at the School of Sport Sciences, men’s 400m individual medley, bronze medal

I want to be a stronger, a more competitive athlete to challenge myself in other races aside from the 400m individual medley in the Tokyo Olympics.

Masato Sakai, 3rd year student at the School of Sport Sciences, men’s 200m butterfly, silver medal

This silver medal makes me feel both proud and disappointed. I will strive to win the gold in the Tokyo Olympics with this regret in mind.

Ippei Watanabe, 2nd year student at the School of Sport Sciences, men’s 200m breaststroke, set the new Olympic record

My goal in the Tokyo Olympics is to set the Olympic record again and win the gold medal this time. I’ll do my best in the next four years to achieve this goal.

Kanako Watanabe, 2nd year student at the School of Sport Sciences, women’s 100m breaststroke, competed in two consecutive Olympic games

I hope my experiences in London and Rio will become stepping stones for taking a leap in Tokyo.

Natsumi Hoshi, 2013 graduate of the School of Sport Sciences, women’s 200m butterfly, bronze medal, retired as a competitive swimmer this year

Track and Field

Nobuya Kato, 3rd year student at the School of Sport Sciences, men’s 4x400m relay

Tokyo Olympics is a competition I must take part in. I will push myself to reach one of my highest goals.

Suguru Osako, 2014 graduate of the School of Sport Sciences, men’s 5000m, men’s 10000m

Although I came in 17th place in the 10,000m race in the Rio Olympics, I felt a sense of accomplishment. This experience gave me the confidence to compete and aim higher in the Tokyo Olympics.

Keisuke Nozawa, 2014 graduate of the School of Sport Sciences, men’s 400m hurdle

Seeing the final round of the men’s 400m hurdle, I realized that I was not even close to the level of competing at that stage. Taking this as a wake-up call, I’d like to train harder and become a better athlete.

Satomi Kubokura, 1st year graduate student at the Graduate School of Sport Sciences, women’s 400m hurdle, competed in three consecutive Olympic games

A couple of months have passed since the Rio Olympics, but every time I think about it, I still feel much regret. I hope that I can contribute to track and field in some way four years later in the Tokyo Olympics.

Weightlifting

Namika Matsumoto, 2014 graduate of the School of Social Sciences, women’s 63kg

I was so impressed by Hiromi Miyake winning the bronze medal. I wish I could be like her four years later.

Rugby Sevens

Makiko Tomita, 2014 graduate of the School of International Liberal Studies

We are already starting training to prepare ourselves for the Tokyo Olympics. A matter fact, we’d like to think that we only have four years left and give it our best during training.

Chisato Yokoo, 2015 graduate of the School of Social Sciences

I can clearly remember the Australian team standing on the podium with their gold medals in hand. My desire to stand there four years later became even stronger.

Paralympics
Table Tennis

Koyo Iwabuchi, 4th year student at the School of Education

I realized how difficult it is to get results in the Paralympic games compared to other competitions. With this experience in mind, I want to do my best to win the gold in the Tokyo Paralympics.

Triathlon

Junpei Kimura, 2007 graduate of the School of Education, competed in four consecutive Paralympic games

I gave it my all in this competition, but the results were unsatisfying. I won’t give up. I’m going for the gold four years from now.

Track and Field

Hajimu Ashida, 2016 graduate of the School of Political Science and Economics, men’s 100m relay, bronze medal

This was my first Paralympics, but I kept in mind how I could reflect on this experience for the Tokyo Game.

Tomoki Tagawa, 2010 graduate of the Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, men’s 4x100m relay, bronze medal, competed in three consecutive Paralympic games

In the next Tokyo Paralympics, I want to be able to win a medal even in an individual track and field event.