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OKAZAKI Mizuki, 3rd-year student, Department of Physics, School of Science

Quad

As a high school student, Ms. Okazaki belonged to a culture club at Futaba Senior High School in Fukuoka. However, after enrolling in Osaka University, she joined the rowing club and has been absorbed in rowing ever since. As a visiting cox for Denso Corporation in the women's coxed quad* scull, she won the Rowing National Championships in September 2012 . She laughs, saying, "Who I am is totally different from what I imagined in my high school days." We asked her about the rowing club and her fascination with rowing, a sport that is not a simple competition of physical power.

*A quad is a boat designed for four rowers who propel the boat by sculling with two oars each. Quads are referred to as a "coxed quad" or "coxless quad" depending on whether the boat has a cox or not.


Osaka University's rowing club's practice starts at 4:30 a.m. on the Yodo River. As there is no public transportation at that hour, club members stay at a training camp. Some 40 members eat and sleep together in a camp adjacent to a boat storage warehouse. "It's like living in a large family," she says.

Quad scull

In the spring when she was a first-year student, she was attracted to the boats gliding over the river and the homelike atmosphere of the club which she then joined. She feels comfortable in the camp on the river bank. A cox does the steering, coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers, and maneuvers the boat. Although she had never been a hard-core athlete, soon after joining the club she discovered the strategic fun of rowing and applied to be a cox.

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She studied how to compete and read specialized books on anatomy to deepen her understanding of muscle movements. She makes use of her knowledge in athletes' health management and strategies for winning. She tells rowers what she learned and makes every effort to regularly exchange opinions with them. She believes that communication with rowers is the key to a strong team.
The competitive Denso Corporation's team asked her to serve as a cox. (Typically, the Denso team participated in competitions with a cox from another team.) The leader of the club, who had been a member of the OU rowing club as a student, asked her to serve as their cox. She was flattered by the offer, but she felt nervous when she joined the competition with the Denso team who competed at the national level.

Looking back at the time, she said, "When communicating with rowers, if what I said was ambiguous, they asked pointed questions. So I always made an all-out effort in the highly charged atmosphere." It was a good experience for her to work with athletes with high skills. "While I was concentrating on what I had to do right then and there, I blended in well with the team members before I knew it. I'm really honored to have received the champion medal."
She looks to the future, beyond her school work and club activities. Her goal is to become a science teacher in a senior high school and create a rowing club at her school. "The Japan Rowing Association plans to cultivate instructors at senior high schools so I hope to take part in this project." Saying this, her face shone in the morning sun.

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