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Would You Still Be Competiting When You're In Your 70s?

by S H Wong (Dr)

Would You Still Be Competiting When You're In Your 70s?

Yutaka and Kiyoko Sakata from Japan are well-known in the dancing circles. This veteran Japanese couple have been competing very regularly for the past 15 years. Yutaka is now 69 years old and Kiyoko is 66 years old and they still compete in the Quickstep with their nimble feet!

Ironically, it was tragedy that drove them into the world of dancing. Both of them were very depressed and disheartened following the death of their son from leukaemia 20 years ago. Yutaka especially was very broken hearted and grieved and he became a social recluse.

Kiyoko, who was also very sad, went to the local dance school and started learning to social dance. She managed to persuade her depressed husband to join her and to help him to overcome their grief. Since that first step they both took into the world of ballroom dancing, there was no turning back. Dancing becomes their consuming passion. And it keeps them going!

Dancing has transformed their lives. They have become happier, healthier and less depressed. While they talked about their son with a broken heart, they also realized that dancing has brought them into a new vista of hope and joyful living. Life becomes more meaningful and enriching.

They have one daughter and three grandchildren. They were the undisputed Senior Champions in many international dancesport competitions in both Modern and Latin categories. And their humility and friendliness are qualities worthy of emulation.

Yutaka told Rpmerleon, "The amount of money we spent in taking dancing lessons is enough to buy both of us a condominium in Japan. We've taken lessons from the top and the best world dancing couples like John Wood and Christopher Hawkins. Our humble advice to young competitors is to enjoy your dance. Do not quarrel too much," Yutaka emphasized.

"Never bring your disputes on the dance floor back to your home. We all make mistakes and we're not perfect. So we must learn to be tolerant and to be more understanding. Dance with joy. Of course we all want to be champions. But we must also learn to accept defeat graciously and congratulate the winners."

"Of course we quarreled too," Kiyoko confessed," but we've learnt to accept each other and try to learn more from each other. The most important thing is to be very tolerant and loving in dancing. We will continue to compete as long as we are able to do so physically," a very nimble and agile 65 year old Mrs, Sakata added happily, with a broad smile. " We love to dance and we love to compete. We find great joy in dancing. And that keeps us going despite the tragic loss of our son."

That was a short interview following their victory in the Standard Adult Senior Over 45 at the 6th Malaysia Millennium 2002 (Open To The World) International Dancesport Championships on the 29th March 2002 in Kuala Lumpur.

This article was published on Monday 25 March, 2002.
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