For 17-year-old track star Kazuma Oseto, the biggest sporting spectacle in the world is taking a backseat to high school athletics.
Despite beating former Japanese Olympians in earlier races, Oseto has decided to forgo his shot at the Olympic Games this year and prepare for high school competitions instead.
“I want to focus on the Inter-High School Championships and World Junior Championships,” says the third-year student at Fukuoka’s Kokura Higashi High School, who broke the high school boys’ record in the 100 meters for the first time in 18 years.
The unselfish Oseto added that he wanted to compete at the Inter-High School Championships for his team, as well as for himself. He says he feels it is his responsibility as captain of his high school’s track and field team to lead them into battle.
As a result of his decision, Oseto did not compete at the national championships, which were held June 8-10 in Osaka’s Nagai Stadium and doubled as the final selection meet for the London Olympics.
At the Oda Memorial Athletic Meet in April, Oseto surprised even himself with a time of 10.23 seconds in the 100 meters, beating Naoki Tsukahara and Shinji Takahira, both of whom won bronze medals in the 400-meter relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and both of whom belong to Fujitsu’s corporate team. Oseto also exceeded the Olympic qualifying standard B level.
The speedy teen had a good chance at becoming Japan’s first male high school sprinter in the Olympics since Hiroki Fuwa accomplished the feat at the 1984 Los Angeles Games while attending the Second High School of Tokyo University of Agriculture in Gunma Prefecture. But if Ooseto ran in an Olympic selection meet, it would leave him exhausted before the Inter-High School Championships, which have been his top goal for a long time now.
Despite advancing to the final for the last two years, Oseto failed to win the men’s 100-meter race at the Inter-High School Championships.
“I feel like it’s my mission now,” he says of his goal.
At the Fukuoka Prefecture preliminaries, which ran for three days until May 27, Oseto competed in individual events as well as two relays. He and his team won the 400-meter relay. In the last event--the 1,600-meter relay, in which he served as anchor--Oseto nearly pulled a muscle in his right leg from fatigue, and ended up in fourth place. But he managed to help his team--none of whom had gotten past prefectural-level competition--make it to the Kita-Kyushu regional games.
The 178-centimeter teen believes that at this stage of his blossoming athletic career, he should take it one step at a time regarding appearing in future Olympic Games. But he still has big dreams.
“I was able to clear the Olympic standard this year, so four years from now I hope to be able to record a time of 10 seconds flat or even something at the 9-second level,” Oseto says.
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