My sister is Misaya Eto, former Nogizaka46: Kokugakuin University captain’s struggle after the Hakone Ekiden | FRIDAY DIGITAL

My sister is Misaya Eto, former Nogizaka46: Kokugakuin University captain’s struggle after the Hakone Ekiden

Four years of running with a passionate message from his brother-in-law, Sousuke Genda of the Seibu Lions

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I wanted to be bigger as an athlete,” she said. After the race, Rin Kitsuke expressed her regret (Photo: Afro)

Kokugakuin University finished 8th overall in the 98th Hakone Ekiden, earning the right to be seeded for the fourth consecutive race, but they were aiming for their first overall victory. The captain of the team, Rin Kitsuki, was more frustrated than anyone else. Her older sister is Misae Eto, formerly of Nogizaka46, and her brother-in-law is Sousuke Genda of the Seibu Lions. She is often mentioned in the media about her relatives, but she has been the captain of the team since her junior year, and this year she won the section prize in the 2nd section of the Izumo Ekiden as an ace. That’s why the brake on the last Hakone Road was unexpected.

The “attentive captain” who sent individual messages to all runners

In the 7th section of the return race, he was in agony, waving his arms as hard as he could. As she ran into the Hiratsuka relay station, where the Shonan sea breeze was blowing, she slumped to the ground on the cold asphalt. Rin Kitsuke’s legs were twitching and twitching. She was barely conscious. It was all she could do to hold on to the tasuki. He was asked to help set the tone for the return trip, but he dropped from 6th to 10th in the team standings. The team’s ranking dropped from 6th to 10th, and they finished 20th. As he returned to the waiting tent with his teammates on his shoulders, he struggled to find his voice.

I wanted to do my job as captain. That’s all I can think about. I think this is my current strength and my weakness. It’s really frustrating. Coach Yasuhiro Maeda trusted me and entrusted me with the job. …… I couldn’t keep my legs up until the second half.

Holding his left Achilles tendon with his hand, he couldn’t help but laugh. He had been the captain of the team since his junior year, and this year he had set the goal of winning the overall championship for the first time, and he was proud of leading the team. I can’t stop here. He consulted with the doctor and continued to take painkillers from practice to the day of the race. Even when his injury was not recovering as quickly as he had hoped, he did not want to show his teammates that he was worried. In fact, he never forgot to be attentive to his teammates.

The day before the Hakone race, he sent individual messages to all the runners for the outward and return roads, and even called Shin’ai Shimazaki, who had to leave the team suddenly.

She also called Shin’ai Shimazaki, who was left out of the team at short notice. “I wanted to be in a good mood until the end,” she said.

Even so, he had always consulted with Seibu’s Genda, whom he respected as a senior athlete who had won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and as his brother-in-law. He always gave me good advice and sent me messages of encouragement before races. He cares for me as if I were his own brother. The day before and on the day of the return trip, Genda’s words pushed me forward.

He said, “I know you’ve been thinking about the team as the captain, but at the end of the race, you should run for yourself. No matter how it turns out, what you’ve been doing won’t change.

Misae Eto (center) at the Pusan International Film Festival in 2019. On the left is Taiga Nakamura (Photo: Afro)
Misae Eto (center) at the Pusan International Film Festival.

My sister who brought me to the dormitory when I graduated from high school.

The pain disappeared a week ago, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. I told myself, “I’ve done all I can do, so I’ll be fine,” and stood at the starting line with confidence.

The presence of her own sister, who has been a great support for her, was also important.

I wanted to show my sister how much I’ve grown in my last race in Hakone. I wanted to show my sister how much I have grown as an athlete, as she has always been the focus of attention. That desire was my motivation.

After graduating from Oita Tomei High School in her hometown, she moved to Tokyo and was taken to the dormitory of the track and field team by her sister. When I felt overwhelmed by the heavy responsibility of being the captain, she encouraged me to be strong. He always keeps his sister’s words in mind.

She always keeps her sister’s words in mind: “At the end of the day, it’s all about feelings. You’ll be fine, Lin, you’re my little brother.

However, even with his strong mental strength, there were times when he was unable to keep up. The unfortunate thing was that the team had a series of accidents. The section assignments for the return trip were decided the day before the race. Initially, Kizuki was scheduled to run in the 10th district, but when his vice-captain, Shimazaki, broke down and was forced to miss the race, he was hurriedly placed in the 7th district. Coach Maeda, who put together the order, showed a reluctant expression on his face, but was concerned about his captain, who had been leading the team.

‘I think I put a heavy burden on him at the end. When I heard Kizuki say, ‘I’ll definitely do it,’ I thought, ‘I’ll make up my mind. I was the director who decided to use him. I couldn’t say, “No, you can’t. I couldn’t say, “No, we’ll replace him. Thanks to his efforts, we have become a team that can talk about winning the overall championship. I wanted to let him run. But the world of competition is merciless. The story doesn’t just have a happy ending. I hope that Kizuki will make the most of this experience in the future.”

After the hustle and bustle of the tournament had settled down in Otemachi, Kitsuke showed up and nodded quietly when he heard his mentor’s words. They had cried and laughed together, and the trust between them was unshakable. What I learned from my last Hakone race was the severity of life. After graduating from university, he will continue to compete for Kyudenko, an industrial company.

After graduating from university, he will continue to compete for Kyudenko, an industrial team, “I’m sure my life won’t be all good from now on. What should I do in bad times? I want to train my mental strength to be unfazed by anything. I want to challenge myself once again with the same blank mind I had as a freshman.

After this spring, he will weave a new story in his hometown of Kyushu, far away from the Kanto region. The only regret he has is that he won’t be able to watch baseball games at the Seibu Dome, which he used to frequent during his college days. She intends to grow as a long-distance runner to match her brother-in-law, Genda, who has won the Golden Glove Award four times.

Kizuki went to watch her sister’s husband, Genda, play in a game. As a good advisor and a great athlete, she will continue to follow his footsteps (from Rim Kitsuke’s Twitter page).
  • Reporting and writing by Masayuki Sugizono

    Born in 1977. After working as an editor and reporter for a soccer magazine and an athletic reporter for a news agency, he became a freelance journalist. Currently covers many sports, mainly soccer, boxing, and track and field.

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