JAPAN - Eleven years ago, Taio Kanai applied to our school as a local fifteen-year-student. After passing the entrance examination, he became a member of the 52nd batch of students. For three years he commuted from his house in Hakodate to our school. He was a very quiet student but, even as a teenager and now as an adult, his face always shines when he runs! As a Lasallian, he continued to run in his track and field club. Taio represented our school and won the city and the prefecture tournaments for three consecutive years. This enabled him to be at the national inter-high school tournaments. When he was a university student of dentistry, he also took part in several competitions.
In 2019 he broke the Japanese 110 meters hurdles record and that event put him in the list of top candidates to become an Olympian for 2020. But as we know, COVID-19 reset the international event to this summer. To get one of the three allocated slots for Japan he had to be in several previous tournaments. In the confirmation tournament last month, he came second. The tournament before that, he came first. The school naturally rejoices on this first experience of one of our graduates. A placard honoring Taio for his achievement stands now near the main entrance of our school.
His father is also a dentist in the city. I have been on the phone with him several times. I can feel he is extremely happy to see his son as a public figure. He is telling me that unfortunately he could not get the tickets to be present at his son’s worldwide competition. To buy Olympic tickets, you must have to go through a lottery system.
Our school as an academic oriented institution has never produced any professional player in any sport. Recently only a couple of our graduates have reached the semi-professional level in rugby clubs. For Taio, most probably he will pursue his career as a dentist and one day in the future will take over his father’s clinic.
Kanai (金井), his family name, can be translated as “golden well”. The sound of his name Taio (大旺) is similar to the word for “sun” but looking at the characters it means “big flourish”. His parents must be feeling fully satisfied as they chose such a name for their son. Look for Taio Kanai when you watch the 110 meter hurdles race in the Olympics! (Text: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC; Photos: Br. Fermin Martinez FSC, La Salle Japan Facebook Page)