JAKARTA – Masateru Yugami became one of the rising stars in Japanese track and field this year.
He did so by breaking the national discus record three times in one day during June’s national championships in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The 25-year-old ended up improving the record to 62.16 meters at the country’s biggest track tournament.
But Yugami’s first big international tournament didn’t provide a similarly euphoric feeling. On Wednesday night, he finished sixth with a 57.62 mark in the men’s discus final at the Asian Games.
“To put it in one line, it’s frustrating,” Yugami said, reflecting on his own performance after the competition at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. “I’ve been training in order to get a medal here, so it’s extremely disappointing that I came up short of achieving it.”
Yugami, who has congenital deafness, earned a silver medal at the 2017 Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey. He usually relies on a hearing aid, but removes it at the circle so he can concentrate on his own attempts.
At the Asiad, however, he had a lackluster performance and was unable to perform near his best. Yugami said that he needed to throw his discus more dynamically, but because he did not execute his first attempt well, it affected him mentally and he could not regain his composure for the rest of the night.
“I did make some adjustments (for my later attempts), but I ended up performing much lower than I thought I could and I wasn’t sure what was happening,” the Shiga Prefecture native said.
Yugami also admitted that he may not have been motivated enough to accomplish his objective in Indonesia.
“To be perfectly honest with you, I had set for this year to win at the national championships and break the national record,” he explained. “I achieved both of them, so my motivation level went down a little bit. It’s all on me that I couldn’t raise it enough.
“I had trained hard, but maybe I wasn’t ready mentally to really put myself into (the Asian Games).”
Although he didn’t come through with a top-level performance here, Yugami, who trains using techniques borrowed from rugby players, could prove to be a Japanese athlete worth watching in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.