translated by Brett Larner
The next Taniguchi is ready to challenge the marathon! At the Mar. 1 Biwako Mainichi Marathon, Satoru Sasaki (23, Team Asahi Kasei), whose coach Takeshi Soh calls him "like Hiromi Taniguchi," will debut at the 42.195 km distance. Grabbing attention with a stage win on the New Year Ekiden's 5th leg in only his first year as a professional runner, all eyes are fixed upon this new star. His goal is to earn his ticket to August's World Championships in Berlin.
Sasaki has been a corporate runner for less than a year, but even at this early stage of his career he has the personality of a craftsman. "Attention? Are you talking about me? Well, regardless, this time I just want to get some idea of what the marathon is all about." He has no bold predictions, choosing his words carefully as he talks about his ambitions.
Sasaki began practicing with Team Asahi Kasei at its base in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture in March last year just before joining. Head coach Takeshi Soh immediately pegged him as "an efficient runner who controls his own pace." Soh went on to describe his impressions of Sasaki in more detail, saying, "It's been a long time since I've had a runner who was made for the marathon. He's like Hiromi Taniguchi." Resembling the 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon gold medalist, the rookie Sasaki is set to rise to the challenge of the marathon.
Relatively anonymous during his days at Daito Bunka University, Sasaki came to national attention at the 2009 New Year Ekiden. Running against professionals from across the nation, Sasaki covered the 15.9 km 5th stage in 47:26, taking the stage best title. With this achievement under his belt and many of Japan's top runners opting for the Mar. 22 Tokyo Marathon, the window of opportunity is wide open for Sasaki to rise up from the general division and take a place on the World Championships team by finishing as the top Japanese runner.
"Everything went very smoothly in training. I know it's only his first marathon but I'm really looking forward to it," said Coach Soh, raising expectations with his enthusiasm. Sasaki laughed, "Honestly, I'm not very good at being in the spotlight." Of his goals he said, "The future...yeah...well...," trailing off before finally committing himself to, "I'd like to run a marathon in the national uniform."