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Dai Tamesue / People


Dai Tamesue
Born on 3rd, May 1978.
Grew up in Hiroshima-city, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.
A graduate of Hiroshima Prefectural Minami High School, the Faculty of Economics, Housei University.
Professional athlete in hurdle, belongs in Asia Partnership Fund Group(APFG)


1993 Wins double crown in the Japan Junior High School Track & Field Meet for the 100 & 200 meter track race, in his 3rd year of Itsukaichi Municipal Junior High School.
1996 Came in 4th place in the 400 meter track race, while finishing 2nd place for the 1600 meter relay in the World Junior Track Event. Same year, won the 400 meter race in the interscholastic athletic competition as well as the Hiroshima National Athletic Meet, where he won both 400 meter and 400 meter hurdle with a high school record respectively. Although the 400 meter record was broken by Yuzou Kanemaru in 2004, the 400 meter hurdle record was an astounding achievement of 49.09 seconds, which became the first ever for a high school athlete to break the barrier of 50 seconds. This record was said to be virtually impossible to break and is till not broken as of September, 2007.
1997 Earned 5th place in the 1600 meter relay of the World Indoor Championships.
1999 Advanced to the semifinals in the 400 meter hurdle in Universiade.
2000 Run the 400 meter hurdle race in the Sydney Olympics, though beaten in the preliminary.
2001 Participated in the Track and Field World Championships held in Edmonton, Canada where he became the first Japanese ever, to win a bronze medal in the men's 400 meter hurdle race. Additionally, the record that he marked in this championships 47.89 seconds, is still the Japanese national record for the men's 400 meter hurdle, as of September, 2007.
2002 Enters Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. after graduating Housei University.
2003 Left the company and turned professional seeking for more severe environment. Appeared in the Paris Track and Field World Championships, though he couldn't make it to the finals.
2004 Although defeated in the semifinal of the men's 400 meter hurdle race in the Athens Olympics, participated in the World Athletic Final, a competition where only that season's world's top athletes can take part in as a first Japanese, achieving a result of 6th place.
2005 Won himself a bronze medal for the 2nd time in his career in the Track and Field World Championships held in Helsinki, Finland. Became the first Japanese ever to win 2 medals in track races which needless to say, was a notable feat.
2007 Participated in the Osaka Track and Field World Championships though failed to make it past the preliminary race, mianly due to physical and mental conditioning. Currently striving for even greater evolution in his performance for the upcoming Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Cheer Up, Tamesue!

Biting the Dust

The Osaka Track and Field World Championships rang up the curtain on 25th August, 2007. That day, the audience sitting in the stands of Nagai Stadium Osaka, where the Championships was being held heaved a loud sigh. One of the top atheletes in Japanese track and field sport, hurdler Dai Tamesue who has been expected to win a medal brighter than the one he earned before, as a bronze medalist in the former Helsinki Championships, turned out to leave the track early defeated in his preliminary of the 400 meter hurdle race.

Tamesue, as he stubbed his toe on the first hurdle with his flinging up left foot, entered his later half of the race without being able to dart out from the start which was his usual race style. Though he still hanged on a well-positioned 4th place until the 10th hurdle, the required position to pass the preliminary, he ended up 6th place taken over by two other contestants. Tamesue also couldn't make it by a hundredth of a second, to the fastest top four runners among those who finished 5th place and below in each group, that could advance to the semifinals. The 2001 and 2005 bronze medalist of the Track and Field World Championships in men's 400 meter hurdle race, disappeared in the preliminary race before moving into the semifinal.

"I'm shameless, I can't live with myself," said Tamesue after the race. "I'm sorry that it ended up like this on the (Japanese) team's first day. It seems like I've slowed the host team's momentum. I'd sincerely like to apologize to the fans who came or trying to come here to see us," he wrote in his own blog. His heart must have been filled with regretful and miserable feelings.

School Days Against the World

"I was originally a fast runner since when I was a kid," said Tamesue once appearing in a TV show. The episode of his elementary school days, that his little league coach banned base stealing because he easily stole bases so many times seem to prove what he said. In junior high school, he earned a victory in both 100 and 200 meter track race and became a nation-wide champion while he set a Japanese record in his high school days. Tamesue was an "elite-track" runner as he was.

During his school days' career, Tamesue is said to have pierced his ears and dyed his hair brown, acting against the strict rules of the track club. "I used to think that I'll achieve applaudable results and become established. In those days, I was always thinking about 'how to fight back'," recalls Tamesue.

Later in his life, Tamesue also said that international meetings such as the Track and Field World Championships or the Olympics, "are places that the biggest gambles of the world takes place where athletes bet not money, but their pride on." According to his words, "games are psychological warfare and the results can easily be changed by small things. It rather seems to be a matter of one's state of mind in the lead up to the race, than the ability of that person so and so." Such unique approach towards the race might have been built on his school days acting against the world. This adversarial quality must be what's moving this man called Dai Tamesue, which at the same time is becoming his strongest weapon.

Turning Pro

After graduating university Tamesue entered Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. in 2002. However, to the young track and field elite who already had established a position as a top athlete setting a national record of 47.89 seconds, in the Track and Field World Championships held in Edmonton Canada, becoming the first Japanese ever to win a bronze medal throughout all international meetings in the short track and hurdle sport, there had to be a reason to keep on running. Amidst such times, his father Toshiyuki succumbed to cancer. Tamesue comes to think if there were any meaning to racing.

On July 20th 2003, Toshiyuki passed away at the tender age of 54. But the father did not forget to leave final words for his son in anguish.

"Play the game your own way."

Having a kick in the back with his father's last words, Tamesue quit Osaka Gas on October 31st, 2003 and started his career as a professional, which automatically made him probably the first Japanese athlete to go pro in the track and field sport. He faced many difficulties due to injuries or endorsement deals, but still it was a decision he had made on his own. "if it (racing) was my job, and if I could be of some help to somebody by racing, then it would mean something to me. Or else, there won't be a reason for me to keep on racing," said Tamesue. He had no coach. He drew out training schemes and did dietary management all by himself. It was the beginning of trial and error bearing all responsibility for himself.

How I Came to Know Tamesue

It was probably the Sydney Olympics when I first saw him. Toppling over the 9th hurdle on which he stubbed his toe, Tamesue who fell in a heap was banging his fists on the track with annoyance at his failure. It was an impressive scene. I thought he was a unique type among Japanese that usually tend to hide their emotions in public. Some time after that, I found that he was a professional athlete - a very rare case in Japan - and thought it interesting.

Helsinki World Championship

5 years after the Sydney Olympics, Tamesue who dashed out from the start performed well and led the race until the middle stage in the Helsinki Track and Field World Championship. The meeting has been interrupted every now and then due to heavy rain or bad weather condition however, Tamesue concentrated on his race sharing his wide experience while other young athletes had hard times controling themselves from feeling uneasy or getting nervous. As the race got nearer to the end, he was taken over by two other contestants finishing the race throwing out his body towards the goal tape. I remember him coming in quite a pace that he fell rolling on the track as he made his goal.

The gap between Tamesue and the athlete behind him seemed very small and the display took some time ... . Tamesue, too, seemed to be concerned about the digital display. After a while that seemed like forever, that moment finally came. On the third place of the display was the name of "Dai Tamesue" ... . With his second best record of 48.10 seconds, Tamesue won himself a bronze medal for the 2nd time in his life! Earning 2 medals in track sports in international meetings such as this one, was the first historical accomplishment as a Japanese athlete.

Then ... Tamesue "Da Man" thrusted his fists in the air and broke into tears without hesitation. I wept, too, tears tears. It can still make me cry with joy whenever I try to recall the scene. He's done a great job. He really did. Tamesue answered the interview in tears after the race saying, "this medal is for my father," but I think it actually was a reward for him, from his father.

Samurai Hurdler

Originally, Tamesue was promoted under the catchphrase of "Chiisana Hahdorah (small hurdler)" having a not so gifted body weighing 66kg at the height of 5 feet 4. Maybe it was because he was striving in a category called "professional" on a completely self-dependant basis or because his favorite book was Bushido: The Soul of Japan written by Inazou Nitobe, he earned himself the nickname of "Samurai hurdler" as time went by. Additionally, his already mentioned blog's title also happens to be "Samurai Hurdler".

To be continued ...Updated February 18th, 2008