Despite crash, Japanese pro vows Tagaman comeback


Japan’s Yu Shinozaki attends the awards banquet of the 29th Tagaman 70.3 Triathlon at Kanoa Resort’s Barefoot Bar after being treated at the Commonwealth Health Center following a collision during the bike leg of last Saturday’s race. (Jon Perez)

Japanese Yu Shinozaki vowed he will be stronger, wiser, and more cautious when he returns for Tagaman Triathlon next year, eyeing to finish the Half Ironman distance race and win the men’s championship.

The Japanese was involved in a collision during the bike leg of the race last Saturday and was rushed to the Commonwealth Health Center to have his injuries treated.

“Of course I will be back next year. I would get stronger and I will be returning to become the champion,” Shinozaki, who received three stitches on his right knee and sustained cuts, bruises, and contusion from the accident, told Saipan Tribune in an interview.

He left Saipan Monday afternoon and is now back home in Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture, resting and enjoying the company of his wife Akiko Ayuzawa—who is also a triathlete—and their two kids.

“I’m fine now. I’m home. The wound is getting better, but I am still walking slowly and feeling a little bit of pain. The most painful part of my body is my thighs,” added the 24-year-old professional triathlete.

Shinozaki, who was leading the race before the accident, said a car suddenly appeared in front, causing him to hit the side of the vehicle. The car also hit his police escort, who was riding a motorcycle. The Japanese said that the siren and emergency lights of the motorcycle of his police escort were on and the officer was also honking his horn while driving to warn incoming cars. The car involved in the accident, according to the Department of Public Safety report, first hit the police motorcycle then Shinozaki—who was breezing past the intersection in Beach Road and Chalan Hagoi near Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Chalan Kanoa.

“I would need some time off to fully recover from my injuries. I would get better soon, but I plan to join a race next month, the Miyakojima Triathlon on April 22. I want to participate, but possibly if I’m already in good condition,” said Shinozaki.

He said the doctor advised him not to get in the pool for at least 10 days due to his injuries.

“I will need muscle training and rehabilitation. It will take at least two weeks for my cuts to heal and probably another one month for the other bruises. I will be having an MRI today [yesterday].”

Shinuzaki added that aside from returning for the 2019 Tagaman, he also plans to join the Ironman 70.3 Saipan and Hell of the Marianas, and next year’s Saipan Marathon.

“I would like to join other sports events on Saipan. I was very unlucky last weekend and I feel sorry for that, but I am very pleased that I was able to participate in the Tagaman Triathlon. It was wonderful meeting new people on Saipan. I want to return to Saipan and see its rich nature and beautiful sea,” the Japanese pro said.

Shinozaki is an eight-time Nijima Triathlon champion with his last win coming in last year. He also ruled the 2016 Goto Nagasaki National Triathlon and the 2016 Tonunoshima Triathlon, and finished fifth (2014) and fourth (2015) overall in the Ironman Japan. The Japanese was also ranked No. 13 out of the more 30 pros in last year’s Ironman 70.3 Taiwan in Taitung, completing the race in 4:15:46. He competed, too in Ironman Taiwan in Penghu Island and came in at 38th overall after recording 11:25:14.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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