15 June 2013

The Return of Womens' Keirin

Apparently in the past year or two, women's keirin has returned to the betting tracks of Japan.

I learned this when I happened to catch a rebroadcast segment on J Sports cable TV last week.  The event is called "Girl's Keirin" in Japan by the marketing folks (and J Sports), though this would be considered offensive in the U.S., and in interviews the athletes themselves use the term jyoshi keirin -- 女子競輪 -- which really means womens' keirin.

It seems that the bikes used are international standard track bikes -- carbon frames allowed -- and the rules are more consistent with international track bike racing, so the intention is to nurture women riders who can compete at international events, not just to add to the domestic keirin/gambling circuit.

In any event, I missed the earlier inevitable TV segment about the model or "campaign girl" turned keirin rider, and instead caught the much more inspirational one about Miyoko Takamatsu, the 51-year old mom and ex-amateur triathlete who in 2011 decided to go to Keirin School and make her professional sports debut at age 50.  50 ... is the new 40!  or maybe 50 is the new 35!  To a 50-year old cyclist, this is as much of an inspiration as Yuichiro Miura summiting Mt. Everest at age 80, or Jamie Moyer (born one month after me in 1962) still suiting up and pitching in the major leagues in his late forties -- and managing to pitch a major league shut-out game in each of 4 different decades.

Japan may be an aging society, but it is a very healthy and active one.

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