Series25 Aug 2014

Work, rest and play – Koji Murofushi


Japanese hammer thrower Koji Murofushi (© Getty Images)

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