When Koji Murofushi won the world title in the hammer throw in 2011 at 36, it made him the oldest gold medalist in the event. The former Olympic champion recently assumed a role with the aim of helping other athletes extend their careers.
Last autumn, Murofushi became a professor and director of the recently established Sports Science Center of Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
"Through the power of medical and dental studies and sports science, I want to help athletes extend their careers, and give an extra push to those who are close to winning medals," Murofushi said.
In April last year, Murofushi was treated at the university's hospital for appendicitis. He recalls feeling comforted that sports medicine experts on staff had gathered to discuss the treatment that would best allow him to return to competition as soon as possible.
Two months later, Murofushi won the men's hammer at the Japan athletics championships, extending his record streak of national titles to 20.
As the "iron man" already held a doctorate in physical education, Tokyo Medical and Dental University offered him a professorial post at the centre, which was founded in October last year. He accepted, seeing it as a chance to utilize his experience as a researcher for the betterment of the sports world.
Murofushi believes for Japan to win a large number of medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, it is necessary to not only help a new generation of athletes develop, but to further raise the level of current top-tier competitors.
To that end, Murofushi hopes to help develop training methods for athletes in their 30s and 40s, as well as to disseminate medical information to prevent injuries.
Doctors working with Murofushi at the centre praise him as "a man of ideas," saying "he has the courage to try new things."
Murofushi inspires hopes for research that makes the most of his strength as an active athlete.