It has been decided that Mr. Yasuyuki Watanabe will join Sumitomo Electric and work as an instructor for our athletics club. He will resign his post as the ekiden race coach of Waseda University's athletics club at the end of this month. On March 19, in Tokyo, I attended a press conference together with Mr. Watanabe.
Hoping to contribute to the promotion of sports as part of our social contribution efforts, Sumitomo Electric focuses on athletics. Thanks to the support of all of you, our athletics club was able to compete in the New Year Ekiden both last year and this year. In addition, we provide sponsorship for the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon and the Osaka Marathon. Moreover, I serve as the President of the Osaka Association of All Athletics.
With this as a background, I had an opportunity to talk with Mr. Watanabe. He has been a star in the world of Japanese long-distance races, both before his retirement as an active runner and after beginning to work as a coach. Therefore, before we met I knew of him, though he may not have known of me. When we met directly and talked with each other, we found that we shared many of the same views in terms of how to nurture athletes, making our conversation even more exciting. Afterwards, I learned that he would be leaving Waseda's athletics club, and I invited him to join Sumitomo Electric.
On the 19th, when we held our press conference, another press conference was being held to announce the members of the men's national soccer team at almost the same time. However, our conference drew about 40 media representatives, and the news of Mr. Watanabe joining us was widely reported in the newspapers and on the Internet. This has made me feel once again that there are high expectations for Mr. Watanabe.
Our athletics club is still a newcomer in the world of athletics. At the press conference, Mr. Watanabe said that he would make a start as a marathon instructor from scratch. However, this suggests to me that he will nurture marathon runners through reasonable and scientific methods based on cutting-edge training theories, rather than sticking to past methods and customs.
In the world of Japanese marathon running, a new record has not been set since 2002, when there was still a possibility that Japanese runners could be competitive with top-level foreign runners. Since then, however, the speed of the world's runners has been becoming faster and faster, leading to the world record being reduced by nearly three minutes. On the other hand, in the list of the all-time 10 best results of Japanese runners, only three records have been set in the past 10 years. Hearing this, I feel that it is of vital performance for us to try new methods. I would be very pleased if people are able to say that "Sumitomo Electric is doing something fun" in the first phase, then say "Sumitomo Electric has changed instruction methods in the world of Japanese athletics," and finally, if the new methods are able to produce Japanese marathon runners who can compete successfully on the global stage.
Nevertheless, human resources development is much like a marathon race. It takes a lot of time, and it is often necessary to consider what should be done while the relevant project is on the move. I would like to ask for your support for our athletics club from a long-term perspective.