Meditating Buddhist monk saddles up for London


A remote temple, high up in Japan’s Nagano mountains -- not the first place you’d expect to find a potential Olympic champion.

But this is where the Buddhist monk Kenki Sato grew up -- he's representing his country in horse eventing at the London Games.

His father, now the master of the 460-year-old temple, remembers how horses used to be part of everyday life in the village.

SOUNDBITE 1 Shodo Sato (man), Kenki Sato’s father (Japanese, 21 sec):
"Not so long ago, when there were no hearses, the monk in charge of the temple rode a horse for funerals, as he did on his other daily tasks. In this area, that was also the case for many people, such as doctors, who rode horses to their patients’ houses."

Shodo Sato was a professional horse rider, just like his son.

He would have ridden at the 1980 Moscow Olympics had Japan not boycotted the Games.

His other son took part in the Beijing Games four years ago.

And the family’s youngest hopes to follow in her brothers’ footsteps too – she’s already a five-time national showjumping champion.

SOUNDBITE 2 Tae Sato (woman), sister of Kenki Sato (Japanese, 17 sec):
"Because I grew up with horses, horse riding was always something natural for me. So naturally, I wanted to improve my skills and that led me to participating in competitions."

The stables play an important role in Ogawa, employing a number of local people – who will all be keeping a close eye on events in London.

SOUNDBITE 3 Chiemi Toki (woman), works at Myoshoji horse-riding centre (Japanese, 12 sec):
"In such a small village, a place most people have never heard of, even those who live in the prefecture, it's amazing that we have someone taking part in the Olympics. It's something to be proud of."

Japan’s last Olympic medal for horse riding was back in 1932.

Sato has already brought honour to his home village without getting a medal -- now the monk hopes to make his whole country proud by riding to victory.



-Wide of Nagano mountains
-Tae Sato, sister of Kenki Sato, riding her horse
-Wide of Tae Sato in training
-Zoom in on still photo of Kenki Sato taken in 2010 during the Asian Games in China (SOURCE: AFP PHOTO)
-Various of Shodo Sato, father of Kenki Sato, at doors to temple
-Shodo Dato showing trophy cabinet and photos of family riding
-Various of trophies won by the family
-Tae Sato riding
-Still photo of Tae Sato during a competition
-Wide of stable
-Wide of Chiemi Toki working outside stable
-Various of Tae Sato training


Medal Count

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 46 29 29 104
2 China 38 27 23 88
3 Great Britain 29 17 19 65
4 Russia 24 26 32 82
5 South Korea 13 8 7 28
6 Germany 11 19 14 44
7 France 11 11 12 34
86 Philippines 0 0 0 0

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