Series19 Jul 2021

Yoshihide Kiryu: why I run relays


Japan's Yoshihide Kiryu in the 4x100m at the Olympic Games (© AFP / Getty Images)

Yoshihide Kiryu (JPN)

Olympic 4x100m silver medallist, two-time world 4x100m bronze medallist, Asian record-holder



From my very first relay at elementary school, I’ve always loved the fun aspect to relays.

Back then, I was the fastest of my classmates and I became a star, but I always enjoyed competing as a team and working towards the same goal in a relay. To this day, relays are my favourite track and field discipline.

For the most part, I’ve competed in the 4x100m relay, but at high school I recall finishing third in the 4x400m in a national competition. Later, while at college, I won the Japanese intercollegiate 4x400m title for Toyo University.

Aged just 17, I competed for Japan in the 4x100m relay at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow and the next year won a 4x100m silver at the World U20 Championships in Eugene, which was another fond memory.

But my favourite relay memory came at the 2016 Rio Olympics. There, we ran an Asian record time of 37.68 in the heats and bettered that time by 0.08 in the final to win silver. I ran the third leg in the final and handed the baton on to Asuka Cambridge. At that point I thought we could win the race but the Jamaicans had Usain Bolt on anchor and they won the gold.

I enjoy the fact that competing in relays mean you come together as friends with your individual rivals. You get the opportunity to fight together, but to perform well in a relay requires trust in your teammates.

From my experience, because Japan has focused on relays, this has helped us in our individual events. I built up a lot of confidence by challenging the very best in the world in the relays.

Relays have proven to be very meaningful for my career development and helped me become stronger and faster as an athlete.

Steve Landells for World Athletics