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Series25 Aug 2014

Work, rest and play – Koji Murofushi

Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi

The 2004 Olympic and 2011 world hammer champion Koji Murofushi is still among the world’s elite throwers at the age of 39 and earlier this year he won a record 20th Japanese title.

Here the Asian record-holder takes time out from his busy schedule to offer a glimpse into his life at work, rest and play.

Koji at work

What is your favourite training session?

Koji Murofushi: The main factor in throwing far is having a good technique, so I always enjoy the technical sessions.

What is your least favourite session?

KM: I don’t like long-distance running. I go for 30-minute runs in my early conditioning phase.

Do you have a favourite training venue?

KM: I have two. One is the EXOS in Phoenix. It not only has great facilities, but lots of athletes from other sports train there so it is always a great opportunity to exchange training ideas. The other is at the Chukyo University Nagoya campus. My father (Shigenobu, a three-time Olympian in the hammer) also trained there, so it is a special place for me.

Who is your all-time favourite training partner?

KM: When I was younger I trained in the USA with a guy called James Parker (former US champion and 2004 Athens Olympian). He was very much devoted to the hammer. He was a patient student and a very humble athlete.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

KM: Firstly, I enjoy the challenge or overcoming hurdles and looking for a solution. Secondly, I enjoy the confidence competing in the sport gives you which allows you to take that confidence into other areas away from athletics. Thirdly, I like the fact that being in athletics allows me to easily make friends with other athletes because we have a common bond.

Koji at rest

Where is your favourite place to relax?

KM: I get a good energy from Hawaii.

Describe your perfect non-training day.

KM: I would just watch some movies to relax, nothing so special.

What is your favourite stress reliever?

KM: Acupuncture helps me mentally. I’ve also started doing calligraphy, which helps relax me.

What TV shows do you like to relax to?

KM: I sometimes watch major league baseball on a morning. I like to follow the Japanese players.

What is your favourite food?

KM: I like to eat eel. Each week I go back to Nagoya from Tokyo via the bullet train. There I go to a restaurant to eat eel where they cut it and cook it with charcoal. What makes it fun is they let me join in the cooking process, so I don’t just sit there and wait for my meal.

Koji at play

Why do you have a passion for baseball?

KM: Well, it helps that it is on at the right time zone to allow me to watch it. I’m a huge fan of all sports and the power of sport should not be underestimated. After the 2011 earthquake in Japan I made a promise to the victims to win them a gold medal. I did so at the 2011 World Championships and I remember they were so happy.

Did you ever play baseball?

KM: I did a little bit with friends, but for the most part I dedicated myself to athletics.

Which position are you best suited to?

KM: Maybe a batsman. Although I did do the first pitch for the pro baseball game and pitched the ball at 130kmph, which wasn’t too bad!

Who is your all-time favourite baseball player?

KM: Sadaharu Oh, the world record-holder for most home runs, is an interesting person. When he was younger he played right-handed with limited success. However, it was only when he got a little older and someone advised him to play leftie did he immediately hit a home run and start to master the game.

If you could pick one athlete from track and field best suited to baseball, who would it be?

KM: Jan Zelezny (three-time Olympic javelin champion and world record-holder) is a hero of mine who I’m sure could the throw the ball hard and a long way. Even if the style of throwing a baseball is a little different to the javelin, if he had taken up the game at a young age he would have been a good player.

Steve Landells for the IAAF