SEITO YAMAMOTO: “After crawling back up from the bottom, I hope to grab on to something that will change my life.” | Blog | Toyota Olympic, Paralympic and Sports page | Corporate Sports Activities | Trajectory of Toyota | Company
“Because the way a meet is run overseas is different, I was in such a panic that I couldn’t even recognize when my name was called. For example, measuring tapes are used to measure the distance for approach runs. But measuring tapes overseas [at London 2012] are in feet and inches, and (not being able to convert measurements into the metric system) I was hastily trying to figure things out. Before I knew it, the measuring tape had been removed, so I had no choice but to determine my starting point based on sense alone,” explained Yamamoto.
Misjudging the starting point of an approach run can drastically affect a jump. Yamamoto failed to clear what should have been a very doable 5.35 meters in three attempts, eliminating him from the competition.
“It was all over in about five minutes. My head was totally blank, and I wasn’t able to look at my situation objectively. In those conditions, even if a height was jumpable, I just couldn’t do it,” lamented Yamamoto.
That was the first time for Yamamoto, who had steadily jumped higher and higher, to taste regret. His lack of strength and preparedness struck him to the core. Jumping is not only about technique. If one doesn’t feel comfortable overseas, it’s almost a waste of time to compete. So in the winter after London 2012, Yamamoto went alone to train in Sweden.
“I wanted to make my Olympic experience a part of me, at least step by step. I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do, but I had a coach overseas instruct me and I started to communicate with athletes outside of Japan. Because I liked pole vaulting so much, I didn’t really have a hard time living overseas for the first time, and it was actually quite stimulating and fun,” recalled Yamamoto.
Yamamoto found himself on the world stage again just one year later at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Moscow, where he cleared 5.75 meters, tying his personal best and earning sixth place, the highest-ever finish for a Japanese pole vaulter.