An Interview with Vincent Yegon

Writer: Mika A.
Editor: Trang D.

100th Kanto Student Athletics School Championships
(located in Gion Stadium)
Men’s Second Division Best Player Award
10000m Run Track : First Place
5000m Run Track   : First Place

You may be wondering who owns such impressive records. These running records belong to Vincent Yegon, a 3rd-year Japanese-track student at TIU, who was recently awarded MVP (most valuable player) in the 97th Tokyo Hakone Round-Trip University Ekiden Race. In this race, within 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 49 seconds, he was able to pass 14 runners. 

On July 21, 2021, the Campus Globalization team met and interviewed Vincent Yegon at Sakado Campus, Training Center for all kinds of sports in TIU, to get to know more about him and his running experience. 

Vincent is a Kenyan student-athlete who came to TIU to fulfill his dream of studying in Japan and join the TIU (running/track) varsity team. However, Vincent did not start out as a professional runner, but as a junior high school student with a passion for running and training himself physically. Not long after he started, his talent was “discovered” and he was told that he had the potential to compete in running races as a professional. He used to have doubts about his ability and lack confidence in his skills. Turning from a normal kid who considered running as a mere hobby, to running as a professional athlete is definitely not an easy thing to do. However, intimidating as the new path might be, Vincent did not back down and restlessly trained himself for 1-2 years, before being recruited by TIU. This opened up a new future that Vincent never imagined.

Vincent usually practices with “80%” and saves “20%” of his energy for the competition day. This may sound somewhat unconventional, and you may also be wondering why he does not give his all during training. Vincent explains that this is his own strategy to keep himself from burning out, in other words, to any sports player, it is important to always leave some energy for the competition day or else one may get drained easily.

Running is not just about physical training, it also helped Vincent nurture several qualities and crucial soft skills. After each race, his perseverance and resilience are also challenged. It urged him to set a high bar for himself and to have more confidence in himself. 

During training or while running, Vincent listens to Kenyan music as it reduces tension and calms him even during stressful competition. Living in a foreign country – in an international environment – enables Vincent to be more independent and proactive. It also means that he does not get to speak his own language or listen to it very often. Therefore, what actually soothes Vincent most is none other than Kenyan music. Isn’t it healing to hear and get absorbed in the language that followed you since you were born, that your loved ones use to express how proud they are of you? I believe Vincent is very proud and thankful for his home country, the place that raised him to be who he is now–strong and humble.

Furthermore, we also asked how he balances his academic life and sports. He said, “I go by priorities and know what is important. Running is my number one priority. Prioritizing it is important because I believe I cannot continue running forever, there is a limit to it.” However, that does not mean he sacrifices his academics for running. He finds a way to manage his time wisely, and in the midst of the hectic schedule of training, he always saves time for classes and self-reflection.

We also asked about his first impression of Japan. Similar to all other students studying abroad in Japan, he recalled, “Everything from the culture, the language, and the people were totally new and so it was intimidating”. It was no doubt very challenging since he had to adapt and start everything from scratch. The journey was tough, but Vincent has been working hard every day to pursue his dream. 

To end our very inspiring interview, Vincent sent some of his advice to people having a passion for sports, encouraging them to just go for it, follow what their hearts say. Indeed, following this path does not guarantee success, but at least you never need to look down or doubt yourself as you are brave enough to give it a try.