Athletes Who Inspire Osaka

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  3. Vol. 01 I keep running to show appreciation to everyone who’s supported me. Mizuki Matsuda, Marathon (Daihatsu)

This page features interviews with illustrious Osaka athletes
talking about everything from their community to their dreams.
We’ll read about their sport, their experiences, and what they do for fun.
Exclusively on Sports Osaka!

Vol. 01


Mizuki Matsuda Daihatsu


For our very first interview, we spoke with Mizuki Matsuda, a member of the Daihatsu Track & Field team and two-time winner of the Osaka Women’s Marathon. Born and raised in Osaka, she’s one of the city’s most well known athletes. Mizuki took time during training camp in Okinawa to speak with us.

Note: This interview was done remotely as an anti-COVID-19 measure.

I keep running to show appreciation
to everyone who’s supported me.

Mizuki Matsuda


What made you want to become an athlete?

Up until first year junior high (grade 7), I did judo and basketball. But what I really wanted to do was compete in track and field. I’d loved running ever since I was little, and in elementary school I always came first in local road races. That inspired me to join the track team. I ran my heart out and gradually got better. Running was so much fun back then. These days, I have to deal with high expectations and lots of pressure, so it’s not always fun! (Laughs)

You played an active part in the relay road race when you were in high school, but how was your battle record?

I took part every year for three years. During my second year, I was the fastest in my leg of the ekiden for all races that year.

What makes the marathon special for you?

I’d have to say the satisfaction I get when the race is over. Actually, practices are tougher than races, and you have to deal with injuries as well. So after every practice, I say “I’m quitting!” (Laughs)

How much of the year do you spend at training camps?

Although I’m based in Osaka, I mostly practice in other prefectures or overseas. Training camp is in Hokkaido in summer and in Miyazaki and Okinawa in winter. We even trained in Albuquerque, New Mexico (U.S.) before the pandemic. I don’t have many chances to come back to Osaka, except when I come back to rest before a big race. At that time I stay with my family.

What do you do on days when you aren’t training?

I go out to eat good food. At the very least, I want to enjoy sweets on my days off so that I can get through the next practice session. But normally most of the food I eat is quite mild; things like sushi, simmered fish, and chawanmushi (savory steamed egg custard). To relieve stress, I often go to a ganbanyoku (hot stone spa).

Tell us your aspirations for the marathon.

I hit rock bottom and failed to qualify at the Marathon Grand Championship (MGC, the qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics). Still, I went all out and ran a personal best in the marathon in 2020. I thought this would qualify me for the Olympics but another runner ran faster in another race so I ended up not making the team. My track career has had its ups and downs. So, as for my aspirations for the marathon, it wouldn’t matter if I quit tomorrow; I always take it one day at a time, focusing all my energy on each race.
I’m also determined to keep getting better. My goal is to set a Japanese record.

You’ve won the Osaka Women’s Marathon twice.
How did it feel to run in your home town?

As a member of the track team of an Osaka company, I wanted to use this as a springboard to the world. Osaka people cheer on Osaka athletes—and they cheer loudly! There are so many people that urge me on. When they’re shouting “Go Mizuki!”, it’s like they’re rooting for a family member! (Laughs) It makes me happy and gives me a big boost.

What were you thinking about when you ran in front of Osaka fans?

I wasn’t thinking about anything at all. But in the latter half of the marathon, I was thinking things like “I’m dead tired” and “There’s cake waiting for me after this!” There’s a nearby hotel with amazing strawberry shortcake. So towards the end of the race I was shouting to myself “Cake, cake!” (Laughs)

Do you have any words of encouragement for youngsters who dream of competing on a big stage?

I’m still young myself so I’ve no right to give worldly advice. Personally, I think the biggest secret to improving is to enjoy your sport. That’s been true for me.
Currently, gratitude is what makes me run. So many people have looked after me and cheered me on, and I want to return the favor. By doing this, I think I can give them motivation and courage. So, to young athletes I’d say “When you do your sport, never forget those people who have supported you.”

Would you say that’s the reason you joined a track and field team of a company in Osaka, your home town?

To give a clear example, I wanted to make my family proud, show them my gratitude through running. That being said, my coach, Miwako Yamanaka, is the biggest reason that I keep running. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As long as I’m continuing to run, I want to make her proud in any way I can.

Please tell us your future vision as an athlete.

Right now I’m competing against myself and my goal is to set a Japanese marathon record. Until the day I’m satisfied with my life as an athlete, I’ll continue to run with all my energy.

Interviewed on January 18, 2021
Many thanks to Daihatsu Track & Field


Mizuki Matsuda

Born in 1995, Mizuki is a native of Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka. A standout ekiden runner at Osaka Kun-ei Girls’ High School, in 2014 she joined Daihatsu Motor, where she has excelled in ekiden and the 10,000 meters. Her victory at the 2018 Osaka Women’s Marathon, her marathon debut, thrust her into the spotlight. She won this race again in 2020, this time setting a personal best of 2:21:47.

■ Main marathon results
・ 2:22:44, 1st place, 2018 Osaka Women’s Marathon
・ 2:22:23, 5th place (1st place among Japanese women), 2018 Berlin Marathon
・ 2:29:51, 4th place, 2019 MGC
・ 2:21:47 (personal best), 1st place, 2020 Osaka Women’s Marathon

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Sports Promotion Division, Culture and Sports Office, Culture Department, Osaka Prefectural Government

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