【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue】

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics from July 23, 2021 onward.
In Hokkaido, Sapporo will host the marathon, race walking, and football events.
These articles bring you the feelings and reactions of Hokkaido residents.

Aug. 7

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【Tokyo Olympics, Coverage from Hokkaido Venue (7)】Brutal heat saps walker strength in Sapporo men's 50 km Race Walk

Struggling in the heat, Masatora Kawano finished in 6th place, the top Japanese position

An emergency broke out around the 41 kilometer mark. Kawano, in the second place group, fell to the side of the course and vomited. He later commented, “My internal organs were done in by the heat.”

At the 5:30 a.m. start on August 6, the temperature was already 25 degrees Celsius. It reached 30 degrees with a 79% humidity for the end of the walk in the 9:00 a.m. time slot. It was such a brutal environment, it was hard to feel any actual effect in shifting the venue to Sapporo to escape the intense heat of Tokyo.

However, Kawano recovered and took off after the second place group once more. He displayed incredible tenacity in catching up right before the 44 kilometer mark. And though he started slowing down a little after the 46 kilometer mark, he wound up finishing in 6th place only 1 minute and 48 seconds behind the winner. Soon after finishing, he started showing symptoms suggestive of heatstroke, such as cramps, and was given emergency treatment.

His reason for not quitting mid-race was, “My feeling was, I wanted to compete right up to the end, no matter what.” His close friend Koki Ikeda from his Toyo University years, who is also a coworker at Asahi Kasei and the same age, won a Silver Medal in the August 5th 20 km Men’s Race Walk. And this was definitely another important driving factor keeping Kawano in the race. He attacked the race with a heart brimming with emotion, “I was immensely moved seeing him fight with his all towards the end of the race. It made me want to keep going as well.”

In this category, Hirooki Arai (Fujitsu) won a Bronze Medal in the previous Rio de Janeiro Olympics. This was the first Race Walking medal for Japan. But the 50 km Race Walking category will end with this year’s Olympics. In a somber tone, Kawano commented, “I very much wanted to get a medal as a way of giving something back to all of the athletes who have participated in the 50 km history,” but also added, “My performance did reflect me giving absolutely all I could possibly give.” And that performance was definitely ingrained in the memories of everyone who watched.

Special feature

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