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Toyo University Spends $50,000 on New Downhill Track to Help Kiryu Achieve 9-Second Speed

translated by Brett Larner

With Japan's big hope for its first 9-second 100 m, Yoshihide Kiryu (18, Rakunan H.S.), set to enroll in April, Toyo University announced on Mar. 19 that it is building an inclined track, proven effective in building speed, at its campus in Kawagoe, Saitama.  With a 1% decline over its 60 m length, the track facilitates athletes experiencing running at sub-10 speed, moving Kiryu one step closer to realizing his dream.  Toyo's 2014 Hakone Ekiden champion long-distance team will also use the new track.

Dropping 60 cm over the course of 60 m, with just a 1% grade the track will serve as the jet-powered Kiryu's "runway."  "This track allows you to learn how to move your legs and contact the ground at 9-second speed," said Toyo sprint coach Michiaki Kajiwara, 60, explaining the new facility's potential impact on training.  "The 1% slope is the key.  If the slope is too severe it will alter the athlete's running form on flat ground."

The inclined track is being built just outside Toyo's 400 m track.  On a 30 m straightaway the track rises 60 cm, a 2% grade.  After a gradual curve the 60 m downhill section takes up the next straightaway.  The track's width is around 2 m.  With a packed dirt surface it is also suitable for use with spikes.  The track was modeled after the inclined track at the Ajinomoto National Training Center in Tokyo's Kita ward.  Construction has already begun, with completion expected within the month at a total cost of roughly $50,000.  Toyo University administration officials commented with pride, "We want everything to be perfect when we welcome Kiryu."

The main focus of Kiryu's training will be improving his speed on the downhill, but in training on the uphill he can expect to see the same sort of benefits racehorses gain from training on an incline.  "Training on the uphill section will improve his power," said coach Kajiwara.  Toyo's long distance team, which returned to the victor's stand after a two-year absence at the Jan. 2-3 Hakone Ekiden to claim its fourth Hakone title, will also use the track for speed training along with running mileage on a roughly 500 m outer loop equipped with some nice undulation.

On Mar. 11 Kiryu returned from Poland, where he made the 60 m semi-final at the Mar. 7-9 World Indoor Championships.  After enrolling at Toyo in April he plans to move from his family's home in Shiga prefecture to the Toyo track and field team dormitory in Kawagoe, Saitama.  He plans to take part in the Toyo entrance ceremony on April 6 as one of the incoming first-year class representatives.  At the ceremony he is expected to state his goal of improving on his all-time Japanese #2 best of 10.01 s to bring Japan an unprecedented 9-second national record.


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