Winning, Redefined

Some may see the Special Olympics World Games Competition as the ultimate goal, but for 28-year-old Kazushige ‘Kazu’ Takeuchi, it’s only part of his journey to overcome his limits, to excel and succeed.

300x200_Kazushige Takeuchi

Kazu (2nd from left) celebrates his 4th place win with his fellow teammates.
 

 

From Athens to Pyeongchang

Kazu’s mother brought him to Special Olympics Nippon when he was 13 years old, as she worried that Kazu was spending too much time indoors drawing and playing video games. He tried various sports in the beginning, and went to two World Games in 2003 (Ireland, Summer) and 2005 (Nagano, Winter) as an educational liaison and Global Youth Summit participant. For the past two years, his focus has been on athletics and cross country skiing.

In 2011, for the first time, Kazu was selected as an athlete in the Athens World Summer Games, competing in the 100m run, 4x100m relay and Long Jump, new categories that challenged his fitness. The training camps in Japan before the Games affected his confidence. He was used to running 50m on the local level. When training began, he did not have the stamina to sprint 100m. He compared himself with the other athletes, and felt he “cannot run like others do.” Nonetheless, Kazu carried on training, but travelled to Athens not expecting to win any medals.

But something happened when Kazu started competition there. Maybe it was the electrifying atmosphere in the stadium. Maybe it was seeing so many other athletes, united in the same purpose – to compete, to give their best. Maybe it was the camaraderie he enjoyed with his coach and teammates. Maybe it was the crowds, cheering the athletes on. It seemed to move Kazu, spur him to give it his all.

Competing in Athens was an eye opener for Kazu. At the long jump event, he saw other athletes jumping higher than he did. He realized there were better athletes than himself, on an international level. At the 100m run event, he narrowly missed out on the Bronze.

As he predicted, Kazu left Athens without a medal. But he broke all his personal best records.

For some, a medal equals “victory.” Kazu’s family and coaches expressed regret that he didn’t win a medal in Athens. But Kazu didn’t mind, responding cheerfully “I broke my own record. I am happy with it.” He promised himself: “I will train harder aiming at next World Games.”

Since his return, Kazu devoted himself to training, practicing freestyle in cross country skiing. His coach taught him how to roller ski so that he could practice without snow. They also worked on technique to correct Kazu’s form.

At the next 2013 World Winter Games, Kazu will compete in cross country skiing. This time, armed with training and the Athens experience, his goal is clear: “I am going to win a medal.”


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan