20:39 21 February 2017
FEATURE: Asian Games: Versatility source of strength for speed skater Takagi
By Morichika Nakamoto
OBIHIRO, Japan, Feb. 21, Kyodo
Miho Takagi is competing in four events at these Asian Winter Games, knowing that continuous hard work -- in varying distances -- is the path toward progress.
The 22-year-old Hokkaido native is proving she is one of the top performers in the continent, grabbing silver in the 1,000 meters and winning the 3,000 on Monday before capturing the 1,500 on Tuesday at Tokachi Oval.
Takagi didn't appear in Tuesday's scheduled team pursuit after the coaches decided to rest her for what is a long season, but is expected back for the mass start on Thursday.
"I was aiming to win all my races here so it's frustrating I couldn't accomplish it," Takagi said, after finishing behind compatriot Nao Kodaira in the 1,000.
"But I tried to stay positive for the 3,000, I knew I could do it with the strong finish I had in the 1,000."
Takagi swept all four races at the national championships at this very rink in December, winning the 500, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000. The 1,500 is her favorite, but based on the way she won the 3,000 in 4 minutes, 5.75 seconds, it's clear she wants to improve at every distance.
"I was speaking to my coach and was told that to finish below 4:06, I needed somewhere in between 32 and 32.5 seconds per lap. I saw a race before me that finished under 4:08 and that advice came back to me during the race."
"When I can recall something like that during a race, I like to think it's proof I am getting stronger."
Takagi said competing at several distances gives her different ideas to tackle any given race.
"I skated the 3,000 yesterday before the 1,500 today, and I felt the 1,500 was short," Takagi said Tuesday. "It gives me a huge mental edge knowing I'm not thinking, 'I still have two, three laps to go.'"
Concentrating in fewer events has crossed her mind, but Takagi clearly knows how she wants to pursue her career.
"I don't think my time would improve if I were only doing the 1,500," Takagi said. "I want to keep doing both short and long distances, and there are things I can gain from doing the team pursuit and mass start as well."
"There are moments I feel it might be about time to reduce the number of events I compete in. But I consider myself an all-round skater, and believe I can develop precisely by competing in everything I can."