Ed Odeven Reporting

This column was written during the 2012 Summer Olympics for The Japan Times.

Hirai’s impact on swimmers profound

By Ed Odeven

Valentine’s Day is not associated with a passion for one’s job, but rather, you know, a different kind of affection.

Nevertheless, a story published on Feb. 14 by the Asahi Shimbun highlighted Norimasa Hirai’s passion for his job and the guidance he has given the Japan national team in his role as head coach.

“He’s very humble about what he doesn’t know,” Tsuyoshi Aoki, a Japan Swimming Federation vice president told the Asahi Shimbun. “That’s why he listens to people and tries to understand people. More than anything, he has passion.”

I have known Hirai for almost a decade — first watching him conduct a number of intense high-altitude training camps in Flagstaff, Arizona.

He’s polite, but a stickler for details. He’s patient, yet demanding; kind, but…

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