stand by me 4

Athletes who compete in amateur sports have one of the most difficult tasks. To compete on the world level, these athletes have to train their butts off and since they aren’t paid to compete, have to hold down a job as well. What they are able to accomplish when facing severely stacked odds is pretty spectacular.

With the conclusion of the 2014 Asia Games, Japan has once again had the chance to cheer on their storied athletes. It’s important to see these sportsmen in high level competitions because they inspire an entire generation of young athletes to continue to do what they love. A commercial airing during the television broadcasts for the Asia Games is also showing the incredible hearts of these great athletes. Find out who is giving back and what their special message is after the jump.

How do you convince young athletes to continue to practice a sport that will pay them practically nothing? You tell them that what they do is inspirational. An entire country rallies behind your efforts, and that feeling is nothing short of phenomenal.

A group of athletes competing in the Asia Games gathered together to make a commercial for toto & BIG’s “for all sports of Japan”, an organization created to help promote and support amateur athletes in Japan.

Their message is a simple, yet inspiring one. The commercial shows the athletes helping to train the up and coming youth while singing lines from Ben E. King’s 1961 hit “Stand by Me”. When you watch it, not only do you want to support and cheer on the current athletes, you can truly feel the encouragement for not only the kids, but yourself as well.

You can see popular athletes like gymnast Kohei Uchimura, and members of the London Olympic women’s volleyball team, Saori Kimura, Yukiko Ebata and Hitomi Nakamichi. But the real star of the commercial is Shingo Kunieda, the current no. 1 ranked wheelchair tennis player in the world.

stand by me 1

stand by me 2

stand by me 3

stand by me 5

On their website, you can view personal messages from each of the athletes in the commercial. But one of the most powerful is from Kunieda himself. He says “When I placed no. 1 in the world, I thought that more than anything, the most important thing was that I tackled everything that came at me with all my effort and never gave up.” Seems like a pretty obvious thing, but you can’t help but be encouraged and cheer when you hear it from someone who has had to overcome so much more than you.

The video is definitely worth a watch and it ends with the message, “Look ahead. People of the future.” A really empowering ending for Japan’s future athletes. Or maybe the true meaning of the video is “even you can be singing English songs in the future!” You be the judge.

stand by me 6

Images: YouTube
[ Read in Japanese ]