Former Olympian coaching the next generation in Tottori

tottori-TB

About six years ago, OBARA Takumi founded an NPO for children called Kaike Sport Academy under the concept "Creating a bright future for children".

He wanted to share the fun of being active, the importance of making an effort, and the joy of growing with your friends through the sport of triathlon.

Takumi, who participated at Sydney 2000, coaches young athletes while also telling them how exciting the Olympic Games are.

Since he started the local club team, some of the former members, who have since gone on to study at university or work, are now top triathletes who represent Japan in Asian Championships or the Universiade.

Takumi also conducts programmes that help people stay healthy, making an important contribution to the local community.

Dreaming about the day when one of his athletes from the Tottori Prefecture becomes an Olympian, Takumi continues to work hard coaching the next generation.

What are the attractions of triathlon?

There's a great deal of appeal in the demanding race that combines three events. When you cross the finish line, you experience an irreplaceable sense of accomplishment. Triathlon is a sport that requires you to overcome your weaknesses. There are moments during the race when you almost feel like giving up, but you must have a strong will and believe in yourself.

Can you tell us about some experiences or difficulties you've encountered when coaching children?

I feel happy when I could sense the growth of each athlete and also when I can share the moment of joy with them when they accomplish something big like winning at a national championship. The most difficult moment was when the club was just established and I couldn't get many athletes to join. One of the reasons is probably because triathlon seems to be too gruelling; but as I continued to tell people that it's not, the number of athletes gradually started growing.

As an Olympian, what is the attraction of the Olympic Games?

Everything about the Olympic Games is huge. The competition venue, the large number of spectators, the excitement, the atmosphere. Everything was top class and it was so electrifying. The race was very difficult because the level was much higher than any other international competition I've ever experienced. My best memory from the race was the cheers I received from the crowd when I took the lead on my bicycle. I had supporters from all over who came to see me race, and I went right past them at the top position.

Tell us some places you recommend people to visit in your local town.

Kaike Hot Springs in Yonago City is considered "the triathlon Mecca". Kaike Hot Springs and Daisen are the two places I would recommend. Kaike Hot Springs has a high salinity concentration which accelerates recovery from fatigue. Daisen has many bicycle courses, and I trained there to improve my skills as an athlete. Daisen is rich in nature. The scenery changes by the season, and the fresh air and water makes it the best place in the world.

Can you express your passion about running as a torchbearer?

I hope that my run will instil the desire in children to aim for the Olympic Games. The crowd's support would be very encouraging.