近畿大学工業高等専門学校


Judo Athlete, Hiraoka’s Unbeaten Heart

Judo Athlete, Hiraoka’s Unbeaten Heart

 

Hiroaki Hiraoka is a judo athlete who received the silver medal in the Men’s 60-kilogram Division in the 2012 London Olympic Games. He came to our school on August 27, 2013, to give a speech and to instruct our judo club students.  He graduated from Kinki University Fukuyama High School, where he learned the sport under Mr. Miyoshi, who is the manager of the Judo club at our school now.

Mr. Hiraoka’s story was really impressive. He stressed that it is important to have a goal.  He was conscious of Olympic Games even in his boyhood and told people that he would like to get a gold medal in one of them.  In the 2008 Peking Olympic Games he had his chance; however, he lost in his first match.  He said, “I injured my knee just before the match and was not competent in handling the injury properly”.  After recovering from his injury, his renewed confidence earned him a silver medal four years later in London.

He began judo because his father was a judo athlete.  Hiroaki Hiraoka regarded respecting people as an important aspect of judo.  One of his judo teachers once told him that respecting one’s opponent is more important than defeating him.  In his middle school days, he won the West-Japan championship.  In his high school days, he practiced as many as seven or eight hours every day to develop his physical strength and technique.  As the result, he became the Japan Inter High School Tournament champion.

After high school, he decided to go to Tsukuba University, which is famous for academic research and sports activities.  He emphasized the importance of study as well as sports, and said that his university entrance examination score was excellent.  One of the things he learned at university was to think about how he should manage his judo practice.  That was quite important because no one would tell him how to practice when he left the university.

In his speech, Mr. Hiraoka was always smiling in spite of his earlier struggles and physical problems, which necessitated six operations.  We can only speculate on the difficult times he had before the London Olympic Games.  What he stressed to everyone was the importance of effort and tolerance.

After his speech, I went to meet him on the stage and asked him whether it was alright to touch the silver medal.  His answer was positive and I touched it gently.  I felt that the medal was full of his passion, energy, unyielding spirits, success, and pride.

(Takeuchi)