Sprinter Shingo Suetsugu isn't letting anything, even rumors of his own retirement, slow him down.
The Japan record holder and Olympic medalist is aiming for a full-scale comeback, continuing the return he began last fall following a three-year hiatus.
Suetsugu, who holds the Japanese record for the 200-meter race, is scheduled to represent Kumamoto Prefecture in the men's 4x100-meter relay final at the 67th National Sports Festival on Oct. 9.
The 32-year-old star, who belongs to Mizuno Corp.'s corporate track and field team, hopes the event will kick his comeback into high gear.
"This season, I felt like I was cooking with mere leftovers in the fridge," Suetsugu said of his return to the sport so far.
After winning a bronze medal in the 4x100-meter relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Suetsugu took a long-term break, citing fatigue. He made a comeback last fall, but failed even to qualify for the national championships, which served as the selection meet for the London Olympics.
But Suetsugu didn't let missing the Games stop him from continuing his quest back to the top. In the 100-meter dash at the All-Japan Corporate Team Championships in late September, he sailed through the preliminary race with a time of 10.70 seconds and 10.71 seconds in the semifinal. He placed eighth in the final with a time of 10.74 seconds, but was able to tell reporters afterward, with a smile on his face, "It was fun."
That was a stark improvement from the East Japan Corporate Team Championships in May, when he lost steam during the final race, the third of the day.
"This time it was different," Suetsugu said confidently of the September race, which also entailed three races in one day. "I didn't run out of stamina."
The veteran sprinter says he was inspired to aim for the top again after running with London Olympics national team member Masashi Eriguchi, who won the All-Japan Corporate Team Championships. Eriguchi belongs to Osaka Gas Co.'s corporate team and is Suetsugu's junior, also hailing from Kumamoto Prefecture.
"It gave me a reason to try again. I'd better concentrate during winter training," Suetsugu told reporters--and, it seemed, himself--as a look of determination returned to his face.
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