In boat racing, the lighter the weight, the better the competition. However, excessive weight loss can impair the athlete's own health, so there is a minimum weight limit of 51 kg for boys and 47 kg for women. If you fall below this weight, you must wear an "orange vest" for weight adjustment that affects the operability of the boat.
For tall athletes, weight loss is a particularly tough fight. Eiji Shirai, who has won the championship prize money of up to 100 million yen and the highest grade of boat race "SG" held only eight times a year, is 173 cm tall. Even if you consider the data of a general optimum body weight of about 66 kg, it is a calculation that challenges 15 kg weight loss indeed.
"In a competitive race, we drop to the very limit of 51kg. Indeed, shorter heights make it easier to manage weight and are more suitable for racers, but ultimately you have to compete with your own strength. Tall people are said to be disadvantaged in the race, but low-height players must have their own troubles and difficulties. That's why "
Boxers, for example, have been heavily losing weight for months before the match, and when they are weighed, they have "regained" weight with a proper diet, such as carbs, just before the match. However, there is no such interval for boat racers who race somewhere 365 days a year. Shirai imposes hard training on himself and also severely restricts his daily diet. A severe world where the difference in weight of only 500g is directly linked to the outcome. That effort is beyond our imagination.
"I care about my body as much as I can. One meal a day, I eat a special menu with a lot of protein that removes carbohydrates made by my wife as much as possible. I do not eat anything except for minimal nutrition at the race track. However, reducing my weight to 51 kg means that I don't have to worry about my weight, so I can calm down mentally and play the game.”
With a strong awareness of "51" kg, Shirai's race began to change little by little. In the past, he believed in his own sensibilities and raced crazy, but by being aware of the minimum weight limit, he was able to look at himself more calmly. Managing his physical condition to grow stronger is not limited to the physical achievement of weight loss, but it seems that Shirai has grown significantly in mental aspects as well. The regrets after the disappointing race turned into a logical reflection, and the race was developed to convince them properly. In recent years, due to strict weight restrictions, weight-adjusted races have consistently won.
"Being close to the minimum weight is a minimum preparation for seriously facing the race. While all the athletes are aiming for 51 kg, if there is only one heavy athlete, the audience and rivals will say," Do you really want to win? Of course, weight alone doesn't mean winning or losing, but I strongly feel the need to be able to show the "51" numbers around. It's my stance that I'm seriously facing the race. ''