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SPORTS COMMUNICATIONS - 競輪・村上義弘、武豊と約束したダービー制覇

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スポーツ全般/ノンジャンル : 競輪・村上義弘、武豊と約束したダービー制覇
投稿日時: 2013-10-23 14:00:00

 日本で3000人以上いるプロの競輪選手の中で、最高ランクであるS級S班に属するレーサーはたった9人しかいない。そのピラミッドの頂点に君臨するのが村上義弘(京都、73期)だ。昨年は暮れのKEIRINグランプリを制して初の賞金王に輝いた。今年は3月の日本選手権競輪(ダービー)で自身2度目の優勝を飾ると、9月の岐阜記念で通算500勝を達成している。獲得賞金は今年も1億円を突破。史上2人目となるグランプリ連覇へ前進を続ける39歳へ二宮清純がインタビューした。
(写真:プロ生活20年で約13億6000万円の賞金を稼いでいる)

二宮: グランプリの賞金は競輪界で最も高額な1億円。優勝すると現金でももらえるんですか。
村上: 一応、その場でもらうこともできます。ただ、僕は振り込みにしました。さすがに1億円を持って歩くのは危険ですから(笑)。

二宮: 1億円を稼いだといっても、税金などを差し引いて手元に残るのは?
村上: 経費も引いたら、半分も残らないですね。自転車は意外にお金がかかるんです。競技用の自転車をまるまる1台揃えようとするだけでも、かなりの出費になります。
 それでも稼いだお金で親孝行できる点は、競輪選手になって良かったと思いますね。昨年は家のすぐ近くに兄弟で母へ一軒家をプレゼントしました。

二宮: 村上さんは兄弟揃っての競輪選手です。5つ年下の弟・博幸選手は2010年にお兄さんより先にグランプリを制しました。その時の心境は?
村上: グランプリに関しては弟の勝利を素直に喜べました。ただ、その前のダービーでも僕は弟に負けているんです。その時は正直、複雑な思いでしたね。自分のことより、「弟とどっちかが優勝すればいいや」という甘い考えがどこかにあったのでしょう。「自分が力を出し切って勝つ」ではなく、「自分が悪くても弟が前に行ってくれれば」という気持ちがあったんです。後で弟と話をすると、「自分が勝つ」という一心でレースに臨んでいた。その時、勝利に対する執念の違いが弟との差になったと気づきましたね。

二宮: 賞金額の高いグランプリよりも、ダービーで負けたことのほうが悔しかったと?
村上: 確かにグランプリは賞金では一番レースですが、競輪選手としてステータスの高いレースはダービーだと僕はずっと考えています。あの年のダービーの決勝では僕が一番、GIで乗っている回数も多かったはずなのに、弟にポンと先を越されてしまった。僕はダービーを勝ちたくて、それに照準を合わせて何年もやってきたのに優勝に手が届かない……。「日本一」の称号が自分にとって果てしなく遠く感じましたね。

二宮: ただ、その悔しさをバネに2011年、そして今年とダービーを制覇しました。
村上: 一番とりたいレースだったので、本当にうれしかったですね。ダービーは歴史があり、真の日本一を決める戦い。実は10年来のお付き合いをしている競馬の武豊さんと一緒に食事やお酒を飲みながら、ダービーに対する思いをよく語りあっていたんです。武さんも「一番勝ちたいのはダービー」だと言っていました。
(写真:9月に落車でふくらはぎを負傷したが、既に復帰を果たした)

二宮: 武騎手は、まさに“ダービー男”。今年はキズナに乗って史上最多となる5度目のダービー制覇を達成しました。
村上: 感動しましたね。昨年のグランプリを優勝して、年明けにお祝いも兼ねて食事をさせていただいた時に、「2人でダービーとってお祝いしましょう」と約束していたんです。そんないきさつもあったので、余計にうれしかったですね。競馬のことはよく分からないのですが、事前の予想では関係者からは「キズナは実力的には3、4番目」と聞いていました。でも、フタを開けてみたら一番人気。ディープインパクトの子に武さんが乗るという話題性や、キズナの名前にファンが夢を重ね合わせた部分もあったのでしょう。そんな期待を集めた中で結果を出した武豊は本当にすごいと感じました。

二宮: 武騎手は競輪もかなり詳しいですよね。
村上: 最初の出会いは武さんが競輪好きということで記者の方を介して紹介していただいたのがきっかけでした。武さんからは「この前、村上で買ったのにアカンかった」と、あまりにも言われるので(苦笑)、僕も頑張らなくては、と刺激を受けますね。

二宮: 村上さんは競馬や他のギャンブルは?
村上: 武さんと出会ってから、応援する意味も込めてGIとか大きなレースは馬券を買うようになりました。でも、基本的に負けず嫌いなので、あまり賭け事はやらないですね。パチンコや麻雀もやり始めたら絶対に熱くなってしまうと思うんです。だから僕は、できる限り、競輪という競技で勝負し続けたい。競輪が大好きですから、死ぬ前日まで走っていたいんです。

<現在発売中の小学館『ビッグコミックオリジナル』(2013年11月5日号)に村上選手のインタビュー記事が掲載されています。こちらもぜひご覧ください>


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