ACTION TO 2020
Passing the baton to the future
Tokyo 2020 Maths Textbook Special Class
In April 2019, Sasahara Elementary School in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, held a special Maths Textbook class with materials based on the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Special guests included Takuro Yamada（NTT DOCOMO）, bronze medalist in the men’s 50-m swimming division at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games（S9 class）and Kaori Matsumoto, who won gold at the Olympic Games London 2012 followed by bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 in women’s judo（57 kg class）.
Read on to hear how the children enjoyed their special sports-themed mathematics class!
*NTT DOCOMO provided invaluable assistance with the preparation of the Tokyo 2020 Maths Textbook materials.
Press release from the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee
About the Tokyo 2020 Maths Textbook
The Tokyo 2020 Maths Textbook is a set of exercises based on sporting events at the Tokyo 2020 Games that is designed to make learning mathematics fun. It consists of two volumes: Volume A has questions about Olympics events, while Volume B has questions about Paralympics events.
The special class was held in the Year 6 Group 1 classroom. The children were very excited to see two medalists up close, after having only ever seen them on television.
The children were called up one by one and handed their two booklets. Though clearly somewhat overwhelmed by the occasion, they managed to reply confidently to questions.
The children were highly engaged and before long they had already discovered photos of Takuro Yamada in their booklets. There was a warm and pleasant atmosphere in the classroom.
It was a rare opportunity for the children to hear directly from elite athletes. The class finished with a question and answer session. There were many excellent questions from the students.
- How do you motivate yourself to keep going?
- Yamada：First you work out the major goal that you want to achieve. Then you set yourself lots of little goals along the way. As you reach each one of these, you feel like you’re working your way towards the major goal. Life is all about setting yourself little goals every day, working hard to achieve the things you want to do.
- What do you think doing sports has taught you?
- Matsumoto：The main thing it's taught me is to be grateful to the people who have helped me along the way. I'm especially thinking of my training partners, and my mum and dad. I have learned how important it is to be thankful to them for all their support.
- Yamada：Me too. Sport has really showed me that whatever it is you want to do in life, you really need the support and encouragement of those around you. It's thanks to their help that I'm able to pursue my sporting dreams.
- How did you feel when you got your medal?
- Matsumoto：I felt unbelievably happy and excited. It was so exciting. I can't explain it any better than that.
- Yamada：That's right. I was just so excited to finally achieve the goal that I'd had all my life, since I was a little kid, that I can barely remember the moment I was given the medal. But I do remember being really happy.
- Matsumoto：Do you all have memories of being happy about something? When you managed to achieve your goal? The Olympics is the same sort of thing. You feel happy because you've attained your dreams. It's really satisfying as you progress through lots of little achievements, and then when you reach your major goal it is the most wonderful feeling.
- What made you decide to become an athlete?
- Matsumoto：When I was in junior high school, I promised my mother that I would take her to the Olympics. I kept up my judo lessons because I wanted to make my parents proud of me.
- Yamada：Although I'm a swimmer, I actually used to be scared of the water. My parents took me to swimming school so that I would get used to being in the water. When I was in Year 2 at elementary school, a Paralympic athlete showed me his gold medal. I thought it was so cool. It made a big impression on me. And I thought to myself that one day I'd like to have a medal like that. That thought has given me the motivation to continue swimming to this day.
- How did you cope with injuries?
- Matsumoto：I've had six broken bones so far! (laughs) And have you heard of stress fractures? I've had 23 of those just in my right shin. It hurts at the time, it's really hard, but if you want to chase your dream enough then you just have to work through it.
When I was younger I used to eat sweet things all the time and wouldn't eat proper meals. And of course, that wasn't a very good idea. So remember, everyone, to eat your meals! That way you'll be able to recover from injury more quickly. So make sure you eat right. It's the most important thing.
- Yamada：Can you imagine breaking that many bones!! (laughter) In swimming, we don't get as many injuries as they do in judo.
Having said that, if you want to be a top-level athlete competing with the best in the world, that means you have to beat literally everyone else. You have to try harder than everyone else, work harder than everyone else.
And when you're training hard and pushing your body to the limits, sometimes you do get injured. It's unfortunate but it's just the way it is. So it's really important to be in good shape—that means eating well and taking care of your body by doing your warm-ups before training and warm-downs afterwards.
But the most important thing by far is to never give up. If you set yourself goals and are determined to reach them, then you won't give up no matter what happens. You'll be able to overcome injury, as well as all the other challenges you face.
The special class was a great success.When asked what they thought of the class, students had only positive feedback, with comments such as “so much more impressive in real life compared to on TV,”“I got to hold a medal and it was really heavy,” and “my friends are going to be so jealous!”
The Tokyo 2020 Maths Textbook was also popular. Students liked the photos of the athletes and the Olympics and Paralympics related problems, adding that it made solving math problems fun. Several students told Yamada they were hoping to see him win another medal.
Both Yamada and Matsumoto received a lot of inspiration from the students. They are hoping more children learn about sports while having fun.
Yamada hopes to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Games. He recalls how the London 2012 Paralympic Games didn't go as well as he'd hoped. But he'll be back in London again this year for the world championships, where he hopes to taste greater success and use this as a springboard for Tokyo 2020 Games. This illustrates his enthusiasm.
There are now less than 500 days until the Tokyo 2020 Games opening ceremony.
The excitement and enthusiasm for the future that was on display during the class will make the Tokyo 2020 Games a truly special occasion.
- Swimming S9 SB8 SM9
- Date of Birth:
- April 12, 1991
- Place of Birth: