Can He Compete at Nathan's on July 4
Update At Bottom: Confirmed on Kobayashi's blog; he has gnathal arthropathy.
The Influence Peddler has faithfully chronicled the developments affecting the Nathan's Famous July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest. We were among the first to tell you about Joey Chestnut -- the American sensation who threatened Takeru Kobayashi's domination of the event. We previewed last year's competition, at which Kobayashi needed a world record to beat Chestnut. And more recently, we told you that Chestnut had shattered Kobayashi's record -- setting up a great rematch this year.
Now we can be the first to tell you that Kobayashi is reportedly suffering from 'jaw arthritis,' which may prevent him from competing this year. Worse still, it may stop him from winning one 'for his mom' who passed away earlier this year:
A JAPANESE man who set a world record by wolfing down 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes has suffered a severe jaw injury due to his rigorous training, making his next title uncertain.
Takeru 'Tsunami' said he can only open his mouth to make a gap the size of a fingertip after being diagnosed with jaw arthritis.
In an entry on his blog entitled Occupational Hazard, Kobayashi said: "My jaw refused to fight any more."
The injury occurred only a week after the slender 29-year-old started training to win his sixth straight title at the annual July 4 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest on New York's Coney Island.
"I feel ashamed that I couldn't notice the alarm bells set off by my own body," he said. "But with the goal to win another title with a new record, I couldn't stop my training so close to the competition.
What to make of this? First off, is it accurate? (I can't find his blog.)
And if true, is it an attempt to lower expectations? Or is he so intimidated by Chestnut's recent performance that he's chickening out?
We can only hope that Kobayashi somehow recovers by July 4, so that we can see a fair rematch between two great competitors.
Here's a moving fan tribute to the champ. Have a tissue handy for the tears:
Update: Here's the blog (in Japanese, of course). Google gives me this translation for the most recent post:
Some days ago, my jaw seceded the front.
In the scream of the body, the ear you have been ashamed by your being able to tilt.
When training starting from there was a pain...
The jaw opens just a little only anymore.
Opening the mouth, as for there is no pain, to finger one amount.
Being painful, you do not open above that.
As for diagnosis gnathal arthropathy.
Gnathal arthopathy, huh? That's a tough row to hoe.