RYOKOU – the Japanese expression for the word ‘journey’ – is a story about the determination of an Australian athlete, set amongst the backdrop of the Land of the Rising Sun. The series explores Shane Perkins’ journey to re-define his career, whilst taking up the challenge to become a champion rider in the National Keirin Series competition in Japan, 2012/2013.
“I find that my discipline with training and racing is really closely aligned with that of the Japanese culture, so although it’s hard training alone most of the time, I still feel motivated by being around it all, plus my family and I have made so many great friends from being over here” comments Shane Perkins from his current residence in Japan.
Keirin (pronounced kay-rin) is one of the most obscure yet exciting and intriguing disciplines in cycling. Beginning in Japan following World War II as a way to reignite the country’s economy through gambling, a typical race sees 9 riders compete at high speeds over a 2km sprint in colourful uniforms, without brakes, and encourages contact – making for an entertaining feat.
Japanese Keirin Association President, Mr Ishiguro, says “Keirin’s financial contribution to Japanese society is quite large. For example, if you visit a local area with Keirin track, you’ll see many buildings with notice saying ‘this building was built by Keirin finances.’” The Keirin has contributed over $900Billion Yen ($88M AUD) to the Japanese economy since its inception.
Anna Meares, close friend and training partner says of Shane “he’s not the sort of person to turn up at a race and go ‘I don’t feel like it today’ – he puts in every single effort, like he does at training. Every single effort matters and every single race counts. And the Keirin runs off the betting. The punters are coming and putting their money on Shane Perkins.”
Shane Perkins is the former World Keirin Track Champion. He recently won the Bronze Medal in the Men’s Individual Pursuit race in the 2012 London Olympics, and won Gold in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.
RYOKOU is the first in a series of Australian sports documentary stories made by Projucer’s sports content arm, Chasing the Glory.
If you’ve never seen what a Japanese Keirin race looks like, check this out.