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AFP
April 18, 2018
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Japan hails school clerk Kawauchi

Sports

AFP
April 18, 2018

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TOKYO: Japan on Tuesday hailed local school clerk Yuki Kawauchi, the surprise winner of the Boston Marathon, who called work after his victory to ask for an extra day off to celebrate.

When Kawauchi ploughed across the finish line on Monday, despite the coldest start in 30 years and steady rain, he became the first Japanese runner to win the race since 1987.In a poetic twist of fate, that was the year Kawauchi was born.

He finished the punishing 26.2 mile (42.1 km) course with a time of 2hrs 15min 58sec.The humble bureaucrat, who has no coach and no sponsor and trains on his free time, has been hailed across Japan for the shock triumph.

“It is a tremendous achievement to win Boston, which is one of the highest quality races in the world,” Toshihiko Seko, the Japanese runner who won the race in 1987 and 1981, told national broadcaster NHK.

“In the horrible conditions that everyone hates, Kawauchi managed to maintain the toughest spirit, more than anyone else,” he said.In Japan, Kawauchi’s quiet dedication has garnered widespread admiration.

At the Kuki High School in Saitama region, where Kawauchi works, officials said he had been in touch — to ask about an extra day off.Apparently not expecting his win, Kawauchi had planned to fly back to Japan the morning after the race and start working from Wednesday evening.

“He called to ask for an extra day off because he has to attend functions there,” school official Yasuhiro Mitsui told AFP.“The principal told him ‘Congratulations, you have done very well’,” Mitsui said, adding that the holiday extension had been granted.

No celebrations were being planned at the school, Mitsui said, in keeping with Kawauchi’s low-key approach to his running.His training is done outside working hours, and he competes in races on weekends.“Generally he has kept his work and marathon separate. We support him, like we support others, by covering his work while he is gone,” Mitsui said.

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