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Athletics: Kawauchi to turn pro after Boston win - local media

Apr 16, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Yuki Kawauchi of Japan holds up the trophy after winning the 2018 Boston Marathon. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

TOKYO, Japan (Reuters) - Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi has told reporters in his native Japan that he plans to turn professional within a year.

Kawauchi, who currently works in a school for the Saitama Prefectural Government, said he wanted to commit to the marathon on a full-time basis, according to Kyodo News.

“The number one reason is that I want to compete at the global level,” Kawauchi told reporters at Narita Airport on his return from the U.S. on Thursday.

“I haven’t improved my personal best time in five years. I need to change my environment.”

Kawauchi currently competes as an amateur, fitting in training without a coach or sponsor in any free time around his school administration job.

Kyodo added that the Saitama government did not allow Kawauchi to accept any sponsorship deals.

Kawauchi, who has won five consecutive marathons, including four in 2018 alone, said the $150,000 prize money he received for winning in Boston would allow him to commit fully to the marathon.

“It really helps that my financial worries are gone,” he said.

The 31-year-old has represented Japan previously at World Championships but never at an Olympic Games. He will now have more than a year as a professional to reach that goal on home turf at Toyko 2020.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by John O’Brien