Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Eight Rio Olympians to Line Up at National University Track and Field Championships - Entry List Highlights

by Brett Larner

Led by men'x 4x100 m relay silver medalist Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.), eight members of Japan's Rio de Janeiro Olympic team top the entry lists at this weekend's 85th National University Track and Field Championships in Kumagaya, Saitama.  Kiryu is entered in both the 100 m and 200 m. The men's 400 m features his Toyo University teammate Julian Walsh and Walsh's Rio 4x400 m partners Nobuya Kato (Waseda Univ.) and Takamasa Kitagawa (Juntendo Univ.).  Another Toyo Olympian, Daisuke Matsunaga, leads the men's 10000 m race walk, while Juntendo University's Kazuya Shiojiri, a last-minute add to the Rio team in the men's 3000 m steeplechase, is entered in the 5000 m and 10000 m along with the steeple.  Going for a triple of his own is Kohei Yamashita (Tsukuba Univ.) in the men's triple jump.  The only female collegiate Rio Olympian in athletics, Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama Univ.) is set to add the 2016 national collegiate title to her resume alongside June's National Championships win.

In the distance events, Shiojiri and Takamizawa are the favorites in the steeple.  Defending men's 5000 m champion Hazuma Hattori (Toyo Univ.) is absent, leaving Patrick Wambui (Nihon Univ.) the favorite against sub-13:40 fourth-years Keisuke Nakatani (Komazawa Univ.), Kazuma Taira (Waseda Univ.) and Tadashi Isshiki (Aoyama Gakuin Univ.).  Wambui is also ranked #1 in the 10000 m with a 27:54.98 best, his only competition coming from 27:56.47 man Dominic Nyairo (Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.).  The men's 1500 m is closely-matched, with the top five entrants all within 0.7 seconds of the 3:43.47 best of #1-ranked Nanami Arai (Tokai Univ.).

The women's 1500 m has its top three within less than a second of each other, talented first-year Chika Mukai (Meijo Univ.) leading the way in 4:16.76.  Fourth-year Natsuki Omori (Ritsumeikan Univ.) is the probably favorite in the women's 5000 m, the only woman in the field with a sub-15:30 best, but with a 15:33.95 best Natsuki Sekiya (Daito Bunka Univ.) could surprise.  Another first-year who made a stunning breakthrough earlier this summer with a 31:58.46 debut for 10000 m, Yuki Munehisa (Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) is almost 40 seconds better than closest rival Ayumi Uehara (Matsuyama Univ.) on paper and, barring injury, should be the favorite.

85th National University Track and Field Championships
Entry List Distance Event Highlights
Kumagaya, Saitama, Sept. 2-4, 2016
click here for complete entry lists

Men's 1500 m
Nanami Arai (4th yr., Tokai Univ.) - 3:43.47
Tsukasa Anzai (4th yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 3:43.58
Ryohei Sakaguchi (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 3:43.88
Hiroya Inoue (3rd yr., Jobu Univ.) - 3:44.12
Ryunosuke Hayashi (4th yr., Tokai Univ.) - 3:44.17
Kazuyoshi Tamogami (1st yr., Chuo Univ.) - 3:44.70
Tenchi Kamitani (3rd yr., Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 3:44.72
Lazarus Motanya (3rd yr., Obirin Univ.) - 3:44.89
Naoki Nakamura (3rd yr., Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 3:44.91

Men's 5000 m
Patrick Wambui (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 13:27.63
Keisuke Nakatani (4th yr., Komazawa Univ.) - 13:38.08
Kazuma Taira (4th yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:38.65
Tadashi Isshiki (4th yr., Aoyama Gakuin Univ.) - 13:39.65
Shota Onizuka (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:43.61
Hiroyuki Sakaguchi (2nd yr., Meiji Univ.) - 13:45.73
Jinnosuke Matsumura (4th yr., Josai Univ.) - 13:46.23
Shiki Shinsako (1st yr., Waseda Univ.) - 13:47.97
Muiru Muthoni (1st yr., Soka Univ.) - 13:48.44
Ryoji Tatezawa (1st yr., Tokai Univ.) - 13:48.89

Men's 10000 m
Patrick Wambui (2nd yr., Nihon Univ.) - 27:54.98
Dominic Nyairo (2nd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 27:56.47
Yuki Hirota (4th yr., Tokai Univ.) - 28:30.76
Kazuya Shiojiri (2nd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 28:32.85
Taiga Machizawa (4th yr., Chuo Univ.) - 28:43.51
Soma Ishikawa (4th yr., Nihon Univ.) - 28:43.66
Kazuto Kawabata (3rd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 28:44.71
Haruki Minatoya (2nd yr., Tokai Univ.) - 28:46.59
Masaya Komachi (3rd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 28:48.75
Kenta Ueda (3rd yr., Yamanashi Gakuin Univ.) - 28:48.92

Men's 3000 mSC
Kazuya Shiojiri (2nd yr., Juntendo Univ.) - 8:31.89
Yasutaka Ishibashi (4th yr., Tokai Univ.) - 8:48.72
Issei Miyagi (4th yr., Tokai Univ.) - 8:49.18
Tsubasa Komuro (1st yr., Toyo Univ.) - 8:49.52
Hikaru Nakano (4th yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 8:50.32
Yuki Fujioka (2nd yr., Kwansei Gakuin Univ.) - 8:50.68

Women's 1500 m
Chika Mukai (1st yr., Meijo Univ.) - 4:16.76
Mina Ueda (2nd yr., Josai Univ.) - 4:17.08
Rina Koeda (4th yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 4:17.54
Chinatsu Uchiyama (4th yr., Tamagawa Univ.) - 4:19.26
Karin Yasumoto (2nd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 4:21.81
Naruha Sato (1st yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 4:22.85

Women's 5000 m
Natsuki Omori (4th yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:28.32
Natsuki Sekiya (1st yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 15:33.95
Misuzu Nakahara (4th yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 15:36.22
Sakie Arai (4th yr., Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 15:40.64
Kureha Seki (2nd yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 15:42.36
Ami Hirose (4th yr., Kansai Univ.) - 15:43.69
Kanna Tamaki (2nd yr., Meijo Univ.) - 15:48.85
Yuki Munehisa (1st yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 15:49.37
Mina Ueda (2nd yr., Josai Univ.) - 15:54.69
Moeno Shimizu (2nd yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 15:55.91

Women's 10000 m
Yuki Munehisa (1st yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 31:58.46
Ayumi Uehara (4th yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 32:36.25
Yuri Karasawa (3rd yr., Nittai Univ.) - 32:40.81
Anna Matsuda (4th yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 32:54.41
Nanako Kanon (4th yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 32:55.97
Kanade Furuya (2nd yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 32:56.78
Moeno Shimizu (2nd yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 33:00.02
Sakie Arai (4th yr., Osaka Gakuin Univ.) - 33:03.18
Maki Izumida (3rd yr., Rikkyo Univ.) - 33:15.18
Kotona Ota (3rd yr., Ritsumeikan Univ.) - 33:19.43

Women's 3000 mSC
Anju Takamizawa (3rd yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 9:44.22
Soyoka Segawa (4th yr., Daito Bunka Univ.) - 9:58.81
Misaki Mishima (4th yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 10:05.94
Moeno Shimizu (2nd yr., Tokyo Nogyo Univ.) - 10:06.37
Kanako Kitamoto (4th yr., Meijo Univ.) - 10:08.05
Yui Yabuta (3rd yr., Kyoto Sangyo Univ.) - 10:10.55
Mami Nishimura (4th yr., Chuo Univ.) - 10:12.38
Kako Okada (1st yr., Matsuyama Univ.) - 10:16.77
Chisato Sekine (4th yr., Chuo Univ.) - 10:19.78
Nanami Niwa (3rd yr., Chuo Univ.) - 10:22.86

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kiname and Yoshida Win 30th Hokkaido Marathon

by Brett Larner

Biding his time in a race of surges, 25-year-old Ryo Kiname (Team Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) emerged from the pack with a surge over the last 5 km to win the 30th anniversary Hokkaido Marathon in 2:13:16.  With only two people ever having won Hokkaido sub-2:12 the large pack went through halfway in 1:05:51 before the first move came.  Scheduled to run Chicago in six weeks' time, Ryoichi Matsuo (Team Asahi Kasei) went ahead of the pack after the halfway mark, pursued by 2010 Hokkaido winner Cyrus Njui (Kenya/SEV Sports) and the Koichi Morishita-coached Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu).  By 30 km they had brought Matsuo back into the fold just in time for the next move to come from an unlikely source, 22-year-old Kaito Koitabashi (Team Konica Minolta) with a PB of just 2:32:01.  The debuting Takafumi Kikuchi (Team SGH Group) ran Koitabashi down with Njui and Kiname just behind, and the stage was set for the race over the last 5 km.

Kiname was the strongest, dropping Njui and the other two Japanese men, his 2:13:16 win the fastest time in Hokkaido since 2010.  The winner that year, Njui was next across the line for the second year in a row in 2:14:39.  Last year his result was annulled after he tested positive for an ingredient in cold medicine he had taken before the race.  With any luck his result this year will stand. Koitabashi and Kikuchi stayed together until the last straight, Koitabashi improbably pulling away for 3rd in 2:15:03, a PB by 17 minutes and faster than the last two years' winning times.

2006 Hokkaido women's winner Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL), back last year from a two-year suspension as Japan's sole public EPO positive, accurately gauged rival Yuko Mizuguchi (Team Denso) to win the women's race in 2:32:33.  Accompanied by 2014 Kitakyushu Marathon winner Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) through 15 km, Yoshida and Mizuguchi ran together on sub-2:30 pace until just before halfway when Yoshida began to slow.  Staying on track for sub-2:30, by 30 km Mizuguchi had a lead of 50 seconds.  But over the next 10 km it proved too much, Yoshida closing the gap by 10 seconds by 35 km and then overtaking Mizuguchi just before 40 km.  Yoshida sailed on unchallenged for the win, her time just bettering her 2:32:53 win exactly ten years ago.  Mizuguchi was over a minute back in 2:33:46 for 2nd, with Takemoto a distant 3rd in 2:36:42.

30th Hokkaido Marathon
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/28/16
click here for complete results

Men
1. Ryo Kiname (Mitsubishi HPS Nagasaki) - 2:13:16
2. Cyrus Njui (Kenya/SEV Sports) - 2:14:39
3. Kaito Koitabashi (Konica Minolta) - 2:15:03 - PB
4. Takafumi Kikuchi (SGH Group) - 2:15:07 - debut
5. Masanori Sakai (Kyudenko) - 2:15:20
6. Yuji Murota (JFE Steel) - 2:15:41 - PB
7. Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 2:15:53
8. Takuya Suzuki (Aisan Kogyo) - 2:16:20
9. Jo Fukuda (Nishitetsu) - 2:16:30 - PB
10. Ryo Yamamoto (SGH Group) - 2:17:09

Women
1. Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) - 2:32:33
2. Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:33:46
3. Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:36:42
4. Ayako Mitsui (Uniqlo) - 2:39:56
5. Aki Otagiri (Tenmaya) - 2:41:53
6. Hiroko Yoshitomi (Memolead) - 2:45:22
7. Chigusa Yoshimatsu (NEC Kyushu) - 2:50:10
8. Hisae Matsumoto (unattached) - 2:50:54
9. Eri Kosada (Edion) - 2:55:31
10. Mai Fujisawa (Sapporo City Hall) - 2:56:06

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ome 30 km to Add Public Prize Money for Men's and Women's Winners

http://www.hochi.co.jp/sports/etc/20160823-OHT1T50025.html

translated by Brett Larner

The organizers of the Ome 30 km Road Race announced this week that they will award prize money to the overall men's and women's winners at next year's 51st running on Feb. 19.  First place in both the men's and women's races will receive 500,000 yen [~$5000 USD].  Prize money is open to all entrants in the 30 km race.

The 5,000,000 yen course record purse announced for last year's 50th running remains in place.  Breaking either official course record, 1:30:21 for men and 1:39:09 for women, will earn 2,000,000 yen [~$20,000 USD].  Breaking Toshihiko Seko's 1:29:32 unofficial course record from 1981 will earn an additional 1,000,000 yen [~$10,000 USD].  The course record bonuses are only available to JAAF-registered Japanese citizens.

30th Anniversary Hokkaido Marathon Preview

by Brett Larner

Always the signal that the fall marathon season is about to begin, the Hokkaido Marathon celebrates its 30th anniversary running this Sunday. The men's field features Masanori Sakai (Team Kyudenko), a 2:09:10 performer at the 2014 Tokyo Marathon but with little success since then, and Ryo Yamamoto (Team SGH Group), a member of the 2012 London Olympics marathon squad with a 2:08:37 best from 2012. An interesting dark horse is the Barcelona Olympics silver medalist Koichi Morishita-coached 2:13 man Yuki Oshikawa (Team Toyota Kyushu), winner of February's tough Ome 30 km and 2nd at last month's Shibetsu Half Marathon.  Something of an eyebrow raiser is Kenyan Cyrus Njui (SEV Sports), who underwent a six-month suspension after testing positive at last year's Hokkaido Marathon when he took cold medicine from a local pharmacist a few days before the race.  In today's environment it's hard to imagine many races inviting back someone who tested positive at the same race a year earlier, but Hokkaido's policy seems to be forgive and forget.

Underlining that policy is the number one seed in the women's race, Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL), Japan's sole public EPO bust after testing positive at the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.  The 2006 Hokkaido winner, Yoshida returned from her suspension stronger than ever, running a PB of 2:28:43 at last fall's inaugural Saitama International Marathon that positions her as the only sub-2:30 woman in the field.  Her best domestic competition is Aki Otagiri (Team Tenmaya) with a 2:30:24 best at last year's Nagoya Women's Marathon.  Japan-based Kenyan Winfridah Kebaso (Team Nitori) also looks to have potential to improve on her 2:32:08 best behind Yoshida in Saitama.  A late withdrawal with injury is Sakiko Matsumi (Team Daiichi Seimei), a training partner of Rio Olympians Miyuki Uehara and Tomomi Tanaka and coached by 1991 World Championships silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita.  Beyond its invited elite field Hokkaido always features good talent in its general division, so watch for other men and women not listed below to factor into the action.

30th Hokkaido Marathon Elite Field
Sapporo, Hokkaido, 8/28/16
click here for complete field listing
all times listed are best in last three years

Men
Masanori Sakai (Kyudenko) - 2:09:10 (Tokyo 2014)
Cyrus Njui (Kenya/SEV Sports) - 2:09:35 (Tokyo 2014)
Ryo Yamamoto (SGH Group) - 2:10:59 (Vienna 2014)
Ryoichi Matsuo (Asahi Kasei) - 2:12:11 (Nobeoka 2014)
Ryo Kiname (Mitsubishi HPS) - 2:12:48 (Beppu-Oita 2014)
Yuki Oshikawa (Toyota Kyushu) - 2:13:24 (Biwako 2014)
Kyohei Nishi (Kyudenko) - 2:18:37 (Nobeoka 2014)
Kazuya Deguchi (Asahi Kasei) - 2:19:28 (Biwako 2016)

Women
Kaori Yoshida (Team RxL) - 2:28:43 (Saitama International 2015)
Aki Otagiri (Tenmaya) - 2:30:24 (Nagoya Women's 2015)
Yuka Takemoto (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:31:02 (Kitakyushu 2014)
Yuko Mizuguchi (Denso) - 2:31:39 (Nagoya Women's 2014)
Winfridah Kebaso (Kenya/Nitori) - 2:32:08 (Saitama International 2015)
Megumi Amako (Canon AC Kyushu) - 2:34:28 (Seoul International 2015)

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

JAAF Director of Men's Marathoning Takeshi Soh Devastated: "We Need Our Fastest Athletes to Come to the Marathon"

http://www.sanspo.com/rio2016/news/20160823/rio16082305020030-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

In the Aug. 21 men's marathon on the final day of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics the Japanese men suffered a crushing defeat.  Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) was the top Japanese man at 16th overall, while Hisanori Kitajima (Team Yasukawa Denki) was 94th, falling below even Kenjiro Jitsui's 93rd-place finish at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.  JAAF director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh, 63, held his head in his hands as he said, "I guess maybe all we can do is try to get our fastest runners to come to the marathon and then build up their stamina."  But with the heavy emphasis placed on running ekidens wearing sponsor company logos, training and development are left up to each individual team.  Lamenting the way they are mired in lasting, deep-rooted tradition, Soh said, "At the present time we just can't seem to do that. We need the JAAF, the corporate leagues and the university association to come together and talk heart to heart."

Coming from a sprint background, Strengthening Committee Director and coach Kazunori Asaba, 55, was also upset.  Results were poor across the athletics team, not just in the marathon.  Of the 30 Japanese athletes entered in individual events just three, Ryohei Arai (men's javelin throw), Daichi Sawano (men's pole vault) and Miyuki Uehara (women's 5000 m), made the final in their event, with an additional three, Asuka Cambridge (men's 100 m), Keisuke Nozawa (men's 400 m hurdles) and Ryota Yamagata (men's 100 m), making it only as far as the semifinals.  In the shadow of the brilliance radiating from the men's 4x100 m relay silver and men's 50 km race walk bronze medals, the problems faced in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics stand out in stark relief.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rio Men's Marathon Tops Soccer With 23.7% Peak TV Viewership Rate

http://news.mynavi.jp/news/2016/08/22/138/

translated by Brett Larner

The Aug. 21 men's marathon on the final day of the Rio Olympics recorded peak viewership rates of 20.1% between 9:15 and 10:00 p.m., 23.7% from 10:05 to 11:00 p.m., and 18.4% between 11:05 p.m. and midnight.  Early in the morning the same day, the Brazil-Germany men's soccer final recorded rates of 11.8% between 6:24 and 7:00 a.m. and 16.8% between 7:45 and 8:55 a.m.  The evening's pre-marathon Rio Olympics Highlights program earned a 17.6% rate between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.

Additionally, NTV's Aug. 19 women's wrestling feature from 5:00 to 7:45 a.m. that included three-time gold medalist Saori Yoshida's tearful silver medal had an 11.4% viewership rate.  The evening men's wrestling and men's 50 km race walk segment from 10:00 to 11:50 p.m. scored a 10.7% rate, with the late night synchronized swimming segment from 11:55 pm. to 1:30 a.m. rate hitting 10.5%, both segments getting into double digits.

The Aug. 20 athletics segment from 8:15 to 11:11 a.m. that included Japan's men's 4x100 m relay silver medal recorded a viewership rate of 18.2%.  That day's highlight show had an 18.2% between 6:10 and 6:45 p.m. and a 16.3% rate between 7:30 and 8:45 p.m.  Rates were examined by Video Research Ltd. in the Kanto region for NHK's general Olympic broadcast except where noted.

Men's Marathon Rout - JAAF Executives Announce Resignation

http://www.nikkansports.com/olympic/rio2016/athletics/news/1698472.html

translated by Brett Larner

In the Rio de Janeiro Olympics men's marathon on Aug. 21, Satoru Sasaki (30) was the top Japanese man at 16th in 2:13:57.  Suehiro Ishikawa (36) was 36th, with Hisanori Kitajima (31) placing 94th.

At the end of athletics competition Japan's total was two medals and two top eight finishes, a total exceeding the JAAF's target one medal but falling short of its goal of five top eight finishes.  JAAF strengthening committee chairman Kazunori Asaba (55) announced that he intends to resign his position following the Rio Olympics.  Strengthening committee vice-chairman Katsumi Sakai (56) and director of men's marathoning Takeshi Soh (63) are also expected to join the exodus of resignations.  Japanese athletics will be forced to make a fresh start before the Tokyo Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Ten Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

No real surprises in the men's marathon to wrap up the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Berlin and London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) for gold, Tokyo Marathon winner Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) for silver, Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) stepping up for a medal in bronze, world champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) just missing the podium, DNFs for Kenyan and Ethiopian B-men Stanley Biwott and Tesfaye Abera, and irrelevant performances from the Japanese men.  The Japanese men finished in PB order, Satoru Sasaki and Suehiro Ishikawa hanging on to the pack for a while until fading to 16th and 36th, Hisanori Kitajima never in it and finishing 94th in 2:25:11.

Four men born outside Africa qualified for Rio with sub-2:10 times.  The Japanese men were three of them.  Sasaki was the only non-African-born athlete to have qualified sub-2:09.  This was a good team, one of the best in the field.  And yet, they were irrelevant, again.  Hats off to the less accomplished athletes like Alphonce Felix Simbu (Tanzania), Jared Ward (U.S.A.), Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) and Eric Gillis (Canada) who made the top ten.  Sasaki's 2:13:57 for 16th, the 9th-fastest ever by a Japanese man at the Olympics, was exactly in line with most of the rest of Japanese long distance in Rio, a mid-to-high-teens placing and a time just inside the ten fastest-ever Japanese times at the Olympics:

  • men's marathon: 16. Satoru Sasaki, 2:13:57 - JPN Olympic #9
  • women's marathon: 14. Kayoko Fukushi, 2:29:53 - JPN Olympic #8
  • women's 10000 m: 18. Yuka Takashima, 31:36.44 - JPN Olympic #8
  • women's 5000 m: 15. Miyuki Uehara, 15:23.41 (h) - JPN Olympic #8
  • men's 3000 mSC: 11(h). Kazuya Shiojiri, 8:40.98 - JPN Olympic #7

U.S.-based Suguru Osako, part of the Alberto Salazar-led Nike Oregon Project alongside Rupp and Rio gold medalists Matt Centrowitz (U.S.A.) and Mo Farah (Great Britain), deserves credit for beating that curve somewhat, his 13:31.45 the second-fastest 5000 m time ever by a Japanese athlete at the Olympics and his 27:51.94 the third-fastest 10000 m, but even those landed him only 16th in his 5000 m heat and 17th in the 10000 m.  Except for his 10000 m and Uehara's surprising 5000 m performance, none of them made the Japanese Olympic top ten for placing,

So pretty well across the board in Rio, the Japanese spectrum ranged from Sasaki and the other top Japanese athletes running OK times nowhere near what they needed to be competitive and downwards from there.  These are good athletes.  Especially given the strength of the men's marathon team, how could this be?  Brainstorming possible reasons of varying plausibility:

  • The JAAF and coaches are setting the wrong goals.
  • The JAAF and coaches are instilling the wrong mentality.
  • The JAAF and coaches are stuck in the past.
  • The JAAF and coaches don't know how to cultivate their best talent.
  • Their coaches don't know how to peak them for an international championships.
  • They are overtraining for the Olympics (subset of the above).
  • They don't know how to compete internationally.
  • They don't have competitive psychology or can't handle stress.
  • They don't care about medalling or running seriously.
  • They have other reasons for being at the Olympics.
  • Their PBs from domestic races are not what they seem.
  • There are problems with the selection system.
  • Add your theory here.

Exploring those would be another article or two, or three.  Maybe later this week.  But whatever the reasons, the consistent level of Japanese distance performances shows exactly where its bar is being set.  Overall Rio was Japan's best-ever Olympics, 6th overall in the medal count with 12 gold, 8 silver and 21 bronze, medals and podium near-misses coming in a range of sports and events including many outside Japan's traditional strengths. That's great news with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, but the men's 4x100 m silver medal aside, the contrast between most of the rest of the Japanese Olympic team and its athletics squad couldn't have been starker.  It's clearly not the case that the Japanese athletes aren't good enough, but it's equally clear that they're not getting what they need to be their best when it counts most.  Other sports have cleaned house and represented Japan in a way that made the country proud.  It's time for athletics to do the same.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 21, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's Marathon
1. Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) - 2:08:44
2. Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) - 2:09:54
3. Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 2:10:05
4. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) - 2:11:04
5. Alphonce Felix Simbu (Tanzania) - 2:11:15
6. Jared Ward (U.S.A.) - 2:11:30
7. Tadesse Abraham (Switzerland) - 2:11:42
8. Munyo Solomon Mutai (Uganda) - 2:11:49
9. Callum Hawkins (Great Britain) - 2:11:52
10. Eric Gillis (Canada) - 2:12:29
-----
16. Satoru Sasaki (Japan) - 2:13:57
36. Suehiro Ishikawa (Japan) - 2:17:08
94. Hisanori Kitajima (Japan) - 2:25:11

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Nine Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Men's javelin throw national champion Ryohei Arai (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was the lone Japanese athlete in action on the last evening of Olympic athletics action.  Despite a throw of 84.16 m in the qualification round that put him at 4th going into the final, Arai choked under the pressure.  Opening with a throw of only 77.98 m, he followed with two more throws under 80 m before being cut and ultimately finished 11th of 12.  In a TV interview afterward he could do little more than sob and apologize to everyone who supported him.  His underperformance means that two Japanese men must make the top eight in the marathon for the Japanese athletics squad to meet the JAAF's total targeted number of medal and top eight placings, a tall order.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 20, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's Javelin Throw Final
1. Thomas Rohler (Germany) - 90.30
2. Julius Yego (Kenya) - 88.24
3. Keshorn Walcott (Trinidad and Tobago) - 85.38
-----
11. Ryohei Arai (Japan) - 79.47

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Eight Japanese Performances

by Brett Larner

Empty-handed so far despite strong showings by the rest of the Japanese Olympic team, the eighth day of athletics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics finally brought Japan two medals, one controversial, one beautiful.

In the men's 50 km race walk, Koichiro Morioka was out of the front-end action early, while Takayuki Tanii and Hirooki Arai were part of a nine-man chase group behind breakaway leader Yohann Diniz of France.  Tanii fell off the pace, but Arai stayed up front as the pack dwindled, then overtook Diniz.  In 3rd behind Beijing World Championships gold medalist Matej Toth (Slovakia) and London Olympics gold medalist Jared Tallent (Australia) in the final stages of the race, Arai was caught by Canada's Evan Dunfee.  With 1 km to go, Arai made a move to retake Dunfee.  As he passed he bumped Dunfee hard; Dunfee seemed to lose his balance, then a few seconds later appeared to cramp up.  Arai pulled away for bronze by 14 seconds, Dunfree coming through in a national record 3:41:38 for 4th.  But it wasn't over yet.

Canada was quick to file a protest over Arai's contact.  Arai was disqualified and Dunfee elevated to bronze.   Japan appealed the decision, and it was duly overturned to put Arai back onto the podium.  Dunfee had the option to appeal to the CAS, but instead he issued a very respectable statement in which he said he felt that the decision was correct, that contact happens, and that he could never be proud of getting a medal that way.  "I will never allow myself to be defined by the accolades I receive, rather the integrity I carry through life," he wrote in a statement that is recommend reading for anyone who hasn't yet.  In an Olympics in which appeals and protests have played a major role in overturning the outcome of races it was refreshing to see someone put their personal honor and integrity before a medal-at-all-costs attitude.  And a Canadian to boot.  The JAAF has targeted one medal in Rio, but a bronze in what is probably athletics' most fringe event won under a small cloud wasn't really something that could have satisfied expectations.  A few hours later came redemption.

After a brilliant heat that saw then come to the final ranked 2nd just 0.03 behind the U.S.A., Japan's men's 4x100 m ran to almost near perfection in the final, leading at the final exchange and outrunning both the U.S.A. and Canada to take silver behind Jamaica in an Asian record 37.60.  Ryota Yamagata started them off strong, slightly sloppy on the exchange to Shota Iizuka but nothing fatal.  Iizuka and Yoshihide Kiryu doing their work, the team's well-practiced underhand exchanges a technical advantage that gave them the edge they needed.  Anchor Asuka Cambridge getting a glance from Jamaican great Usain Bolt as they ran side-by-side in Bolt's final Olympic race.  Cambridge holding off next-generation stars Andre de Grasse (Canada) and Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.) to cross the line 2nd, straight up legit silver unaffected by the U.S.' subsequent disqualification.  Silver, behind the greatest of all time, in one of the Olympics' marquee events.  The third-fastest country ever.  No sub-10 runners, no sub-20 runners, no runners with doping suspensions on their record.  A true team, youth on their side, staring into a Boltless future with a home-soil Olympics on the horizon.  Cambridge post-race: "In four years we'll try to bring home a better medal!"

Missing multi-year national champion Yuzo Kanemaru, the men's 4x400 m relay team, already lucky to have made the Olympics, didn't have the same luck, finishing 7th in its qualifying heat.  Women's 20 km race walker Kumiko Okada likewise couldn't match Arai's medal, finishing 16th in 1:32:42.  The day's other Japanese athlete in action, Miyuki Uehara, finished 15th in the women's 5000 m in 15:34.97.  Having turned heads by frontrunning her heat to become only the second Japanese woman to ever make an Olympic 5000 m final, Uehara tried the same approach but found the bar set several meters higher.  Dropping back as soon as 10000 m gold medalist Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) made a move, Uehara struggled to maintain pace.  Her final time was 11 seconds slower than in her qualifying heat, but ranked last among the 17 starters on PB her 15th-place finish was a small triumph for someone totally unexpected to make the final.  With only the men's marathon yet to come for Japan she remains its top long distance performer of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 19, 2016
click here for complete results

Women's 5000 m Final
1. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 14:26.17 - OR
2. Hellen Onsando Obiri (Kenya) - 14:29.77
3. Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 14:33.59
4. Mercy Cherono (Kenya) - 14:42.89
5. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 14:43.75
-----
15. Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 15:34.97

Men's 4x100 m Final
1. Jamaica - 37.27
2. Japan - 37.60 - AR
3. Canada - 37.64 - NR

Women's 20 km Race Walk Final
1. Hong Liu (China) - 1:28:35
2. Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez (Mexico) - 1:28:37
3. Xiuzhi Lu (China) - 1:28:42
-----
16. Kumiko Okada (Japan) - 1:32:42

Men's 50 km Race Walk Final
1. Matej Toth (Slovakia) - 3:40:58
2. Jared Tallent (Australia) - 3:41:16
3. Hirooki Arai (Japan) - 3:41:24
-----
4. Evan Dunfee (Canada) - 3:41:38 - NR
14. Takayuki Tanii (Japan) - 3:51:00
27. Koichiro Morioka (Japan) - 3:58:59

Men's 4x400 m Relay Heat 1
1. Jamaica - 2:58.29 - Q
2. U.S.A. - 2:58.38 - Q
3. Botswana - 2:59.35 - Q, NR
-----
7. Japan - 3:02.95

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Friday, August 19, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Seven Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japan's top two decathletes, Suzuki Hamamatsu AC teammates Keisuke Ushiro and Akihiko Nakamura, wrapped up their Rio Olympics with good second day performances to move up through the rankings.  24th and 25th after the first day of competition, Ushiro advanced to 20th, just shy of the 8000 point mark.  Nakamura won his 1500 m heat by over 10 seconds in 4:18.37 to pick up 823 points and move up to 22nd.

But the bigger news was in the men's 4x100 m heats, where the young Japanese team of Ryota Yamagata (Seiko), Shota Iizuka (Mizuno), Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo Univ.) and Asuka Cambridge (Dome) lopped 0.35 seconds off the Japanese national record and 0.14 off China's minutes-old Asian record to win its heat in 37.68 over a Bolt-and Blake-less Jamaican squad.  With the U.S.A. and Canada also not running some of their A-listers Japan's time ranked it 2nd going into the final just 0.03 behind the U.S. team. Anticipation is high for Japan's first sprint relay Olympic medal since Beijing.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 18, 2016
click here for complete results

Decathlon Final Standings
1. Ashton Eaton (U.S.A.) - 8893 - OR
2. Kevin Mayer (France) - 8834 - NR
3. Damian Warner (Canada) - 8666
-----
20. Keisuke Ushiro (Japan) - 7952
22. Akihiko Nakamura (Japan) - 7612

Men's 4x100 m Relay Heat Two
1. Japan - 37.68 - Q, AR
2. Jamaica - 37.94 - Q
3. Trinidad and Tobago - 37.96 - Q

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Six Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Japanese athletes were thin on the ground on the sixth day of athletics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.    Men's javelin national champion Ryohei Arai (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) threw 84.16 m on his first qualifying round throw to make the final, the Japanese performance of the day, short and sweet.  His Suzuki teammates Akihiko Nakamura and Keisuke Ushiro ended the first day of the decathlon ranked near the bottom of the field, Nakamura 24th with 3899 points and Ushiro 25th with 3886.

On the track in the men's 5000 m heats, 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei) echoed his run in the 10000 m final.  Ranked 17th of 25 in Heat One, Murayama ran up front early with Richard Ringer (Germany) before fading to 22nd in 14:26.72.  5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) was ranked 8th of 26 on PB in Heat Two, giving him a chance of becoming only the second Japanese man post-war to make an Olympic 5000 m final. Osako has lost countless key races by relying on his kick but seemed to have learned his lesson with the long surges he used to win both the 5000 m and 10000 m titles this year.  In Rio he kept himself in a good position near the mid-front end of the pack, and with around four laps to go he seemed to be setting up for a long move.  But backing off, he settled back in the pack and was left behind when the kickers' race began.

Osako finished 16th in 13:31.45, the second-fastest time ever by a Japanese man at the Olympics but far from the cutoff from making the final and, relative to his ranking amid the competition, a weaker placing than Murayama's.  The two men's performances underscored the strength of the women's 5000 m final-qualifying run by Miyuki Uehara (Team Daiichi Seimei) yesterday, the lone bright spot in Japanese long distance so far at the Rio Olympics.  All that remains is her run in the final and Sunday's Olympics-ending men's marathon.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 17, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's 5000 m Heat One
1. Hagos Gebrehiwet (Ethiopia) - 13:24.65 - Q
2. Albert Rop (Bahrain) - 13:24.95 - Q
3. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 13:25.25 - Q
4. Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei (Uganda) - 13:25.70 - Q
5. Bernard Lagat (U.S.A.) - 13:26.02 - Q
-----
22. Kota Murayama (Japan) - 14:26.72

Men's 5000 m Heat Two
1. Paul Chelimo (U.S.A.) - 13:19.54 - Q, PB
2. Muktar Edris (Ethiopia) - 13:19.65 - Q
3. Dejen Gebremeskel (Ethiopia) - 13:19.67 - Q
4. Birhanu Balew (Bahrain) - 13:19.83 - Q
5. Andrew Butchart (Great Britain) - 13:20.08 - Q
-----
16. Suguru Osako (Japan) - 13:31.45

Men's Javelin Throw Qualification Group B
1. Keshorn Walcott (Trinidad and Tobago) - 88.68 m - Q
2. Johannes Vetter (Germany) - 85.96 - Q
3. Ryohei Arai (Japan) - 84.16 - Q

Men's Decathlon Day One Standings
1. Ashton Eaton (U.S.A.) - 4621
2. Kai Kazmirek (Germany) - 4500
3. Damien Warner (Canada) - 4489
-----
24. Akihiko Nakamura (Japan) - 3899
25. Keisuke Ushiro (Japan) - 3886

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Five Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

20-year-old Miyuki Uehara (Team Daiichi Seimei) became only the second Japanese woman ever to qualify for an Olympic 5000 m final, boldly fruntrunning her heat to make it through on the fifth day of athletics competition at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Just 6th at June's National Championships, her 15:21.40 PB was enough to put her on the Olympic team over three athletes ahead of her without the Olympic standard.  Pre-race her coach Sachiko Yamashita, the 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon silver medalist and 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathon 4th-placer, told her simply, "Be aggressive."  Uehara took that to heart.

Rocketing out at sub-15 pace close to the Japanese national record while the rest of the field completely ignored her, she quickly had a lead of at least 50 m. It's been relatively common in recent years to see Japanese runners frontrun on the track at world-level championships but rarely so dramatically.  Leading past 3000 m without ever looking back Uehara was inevitably caught late in the race, but where the field has always sailed by Japanese runners in her position she repeatedly surged to stay with it.  7th in 15:23.41 just two seconds off her PB she unexpectedly made it through to the final on time.  The only other time a Japanese woman has ever made it, Michiko Shimizu in Atlanta, Uehara was eight months old.  "I wanted to be assertive," she said post-race.  "I didn't pay any attention to what was going on behind me."

Four-time national champion Misaki Onishi and all-time Japanese #5 Ayuko Suzuki both ran in the second 5000 m heat.  Suffering a recent injury that kept her out of the 10000 m, Suzuki was clearly not her regular self, leading the first 1000 m at a conservative 3:07 before sliding back toward the rear of the pack where she finished.  Onishi ran up to expectations, staying in the middle of the field and finishing 9th in 15:29.17 out of contention for the final. But Uehara was the revelation of the day.  In the last year or so she ran the fastest-ever Japanese women's road 5 km outside Japan at the Carlsbad 5000, ran a 10000 m PB at Payton Jordan, and scored the best-ever Japanese placing at the Bolder Boulder 10 km when she took 2nd.  The message seems clear but is one almost entirely lost on the collective mind of the Japanese corporate system: when you race seriously overseas it prepares you to race seriously overseas when you really need to.

There is a lot of hope for the future of Japanese men's sprinting, but in the 200 m realization of that hope was not to be found.  All-time Japanese #2 Shota Iizuka (Mizuno), #3 Kenji Fujimitsu (Zenrin) and #4 Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu) all got stopped in the opening round despite being ranked near the tops of their heats.  400 m hurdles national champion Keisuke Nozawa (Mizuno) was likewise eliminated in the semi-final, in 2nd until the last hurdle but dropping to 6th.  Women's long jump national champion Konomi Kai (Volver) and women's javelin national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) were both far from their bests, finishing near the bottom of their events in the qualification round and missing out on their finals.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 16, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's 200 m Heat Three +0.3 m/s
1. Salem Eid Yaqoob (Bahrain) - 20.19 - Q, NR
2. Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) - 20.23 - Q
3. Aaron Brown (Canada) - 20.23
-----
4. Shota Iizuka (Japan) - 20.49

Men's 200 m Heat Five -1.5 m/s
1. Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 20.42 - Q
2. Matteo Galvan (Italy) - 20.58 - Q
3. Ramon Gittens (Barbados) - 20.58
-----
6. Kenji Fujimitsu (Japan) - 20.86

Men's 200 m Heat Nine +0.6 m/s
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 20.28 - Q
2. Ejowvokogene Oduduru (Nigeria) - 20.34 - Q
3. Solomon Bockarie (Netherlands) - 20.42
-----
6. Kei Takase (Japan) - 20.71

Women's 5000 m Heat One
1. Hellen Onsando Obiri (Kenya) - 15:19.38 - Q
2. Yasemin Can (Turkey) - 15:19.50 - Q
3. Mercy Cherono (Kenya) - 15:19.56 - Q
4. Shelby Houlihan (U.S.A.) - 15:19.76 - Q
5. Susan Kuijken (Netherlands) - 15:19.96 Q
-----
7. Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 15:23.41 - q

Women's 5000 m Heat Two
1. Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 15:04.35 - Q
2. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 15:17.43 - Q
3. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 15:17.74 - Q
4. Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (Norway) - 15:17.83 - Q
5. Eilish McColgan (Great Britain) - 15:18.20 - Q
-----
9. Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 15:29.17
12. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 15:41.81

Men's 400 m Hurdles Semi-Final One
1. Kerron Clement (U.S.A.) - 48.26 - Q
2. Boniface Mucheru Tumuti (Kenya) - 48.84 - Q
3. Sergio Fernandez (Spain) - 48.87
-----
6. Keisuke Nozawa (Japan) - 49.20

Women's Long Jump Qualification Group B
1. Brittney Reese (U.S.A.) - 6.78 m -0.1 m/s - Q
2. Ksenija Balta (Estonia) - 6.71 m +0.0 m/s - q
3. Ese Brume (Nigeria) - 6.67 m -0.1 m/s - q
-----
19. Konomi Kai (Japan) - 5.87 m +0.3 m/s

Women's Javelin Throw Qualification Group B
1. Maria Andrejczyk (Poland) - 67.11 m - Q, NR
2. Barbora Spotakova (Czech Republic) - 64.65 - Q
3. Linda Stahl (Germany) - 63.95 m - Q
-----
10. Yuki Ebihara (Japan) - 57.68 m

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Four Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

National record holder Daichi Sawano (Team Fujitsu) was the lone Japanese athlete in action in a final on Day Four of athletics competition at the Rio de Janeiro, waiting out heavy rain before getting started in the men's pole vault.  Sawano easily cleared 5.50 m on his first attempt but struggled at 5.65 m, seeming to clear it on his third attempt but brushing the bar just enough to be eliminated.  His 7th-place overall finish in the final checks only the second box in the JAAF's modest goal of one medal and five top eight placings in Rio, a goal that at this point looks tough to achieve despite widespread Japanese success in a variety of other sports.

National champion Keisuke Nozawa (Mizuno) blasted a 48.62 PB to win Heat 4 of the men's 400 m hurdles, frontrunning the entire race to make the semifinals.  Teammate Yuki Matsushita (Mizuno) was the first non-qualifier in 49.60.  In one of two men's 110 m hurdles heats run as heavy rain set in, national champion Wataru Yazawa (Descente) underperformed, running only 13.89 (+1 m/s).  After the rains let up and the other heats were run, however, Yazawa was one of eight athletes called back to be given a second chance to qualify on time due to the difference in conditions between the first two heats and the rest.  13.66 was the mark to beat, but despite having won June's National Championships in 13.48 he could only manage 13.88 (-0.1 m/s) for 3rd.  Deuce Carter (Jamaica) was the only athlete to move on from the supplementary heat, winning it in 13.51.

Having scratched in the 100 m due to lingering concerns over an injury she suffered between Nationals and Rio, 200 m national record holder Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tech AC) ran 23.21 (+0.5 m/s) for 5th in her opening round heat and failed to advance.  Four other Japanese athletes were likewise cut off in the heats in their events.  Most noteworthy among them, 19-year-old Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo University), added to the Rio team in the men's 3000 m SC on Aug. 3 after being offered one of the IAAF invitation spots, outran his last-place ranking in his heat by beating four faster competitors to take 11th in 8:40.98.  His track season having ended with his 8:31.89 PB run on July 7, Shiojiri, a Juntendo second-year, had already moved into heavy mileage summer training for the fall's ekiden season.  Immediately post-race one of the TV presenters asked him about the future, seeming to be leading him to talk about Tokyo 2020.  On live TV at the Olympics, Shiojiri answered, "Well, there's the steeple, yeah, but the Hakone Ekiden is coming up so I have to work hard."

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 15, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's Pole Vault Final
1. Thiago Braz Da Silva (Brazil) - 6.03 m - OR
2. Renaud Lavillenie (France) - 5.98 m
3. Sam Kendricks (U.S.A.) - 5.85 m
-----
7. Daichi Sawano (Japan) - 5.50 m

Women's 200 m Heat Seven +0.5 m/s
1. Ivet Lalova-Collio (Bulgaria) - 22.61 - Q
2. Ella Nelson (Australia) - 22.66 - Q
3. Jodie Williams (Great Britain) - 22.69 - q
-----
5. Chisato Fukushima (Japan) - 23.21

Men's 110 m Hurdles Heat One +0.1 m/s
1. Omar McLeod (Jamaica) - 13.27 - Q
2. Jeff Porter (U.S.A.) - 13.50 - Q
3. Jeffrey Julmis (Haita) - 13.66 - Q
-----
6. Wataru Yazawa (Japan) - 13.89

Men's 110 m Hurdles Supplementary Heat -0.1 m/s
1. Deuce Carter (Jamaica) - 13.51 - q
2. Yeison Rivas (Colombia) - 13.87
3. Wataru Yazawa (Japan) - 13.88

Women's 400 m Hurdles Heat Six
1. Eilidh Doyle (Great Britain) - 55.46 - Q
2. Sage Watson (Canada) - 55.93 - Q
3. Olena Kolesnychenko (Ukraine) - 56.61 - Q
-----
5. Satomi Kubokura (Japan) - 57.34

Men's 400 m Hurdles Heat One
1. Abdelmalik Lahoulou (Algeria) - 48.62 - Q, NR
2. Boniface Mucheru Tumuti (Kenya) - 48.91 - Q
3. Kerron Clement (U.S.A.) - 49.17 - Q
-----
4. Yuki Matsushita (Japan) - 49.60

Men's 400 m Hurdles Heat Four
1. Keisuke Nozawa (Japan) - 48.62 - Q, PB
2. Thomas Barr (Ireland) - 48.93 - Q
3. Eric Cray (Phillipines) - 49.05 - Q

Men's 3000 m Steeplechase Heat One
1. Hillary Bor (U.S.A.) - 8:25.01 - Q
2. Soufiane Elbakkali (Morocco) - 8:25.17 - Q
3. Ezekiel Kemboi (Kenya) - 8:25.51 - Q
-----
11. Kazuya Shiojiri (Japan) - 8:40.98

Men's Triple Jump Qualifying Group A
1. Bin Dong (China) - 17.10 m -0.1 m/s
2. Will Claye (U.S.A.) - 17.05 m +0.4 m/s
3. Shuo Cao (China) - 16.97 m +0.3 m/s
-----
15. Daigo Hasegawa (Japan) - 16.17 m +0.3 m/s

Men's Triple Jump Qualifying Group B
1. Christian Taylor (U.S.A.) - 17.24 m +0.2 m/s
2. Nelson Evora (Portugal) - 16.99 m -0.3 m/s
3. Karol Hoffman (Poland) - 16.79 m +0.2 m/s
-----
18. Kohei Yamashita (Japan) - 15.71 m +0.3 m/s

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, August 15, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Three Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

After biding her time throughout the race, two-time Nagoya Women's Marathon winner Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) made the move that decided the medal winners in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics women's marathon.  Having lost to Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) in a sprint finish at last year's Beijing World Championships, Kirwa went for a long surge that shook it down to a race between her, Dibaba and London Marathon winner Jemima Sumgong (Kenya).  Kirwa read Dibaba right, getting away from her in the long straight to the finish, but Sumgong read them both better.  4th in Beijing, Sumgong made a last push to score Kenya's first-ever women's marathon gold.  The three medalists came through 26 seconds apart, Sumgong's 2:24:04 the third-fastest winning time in the Olympic women's marathon's nine-race history. Another 17 seconds back, Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) held off second-half agente provocatrice Volha Mazuronak (Belarus) by one second for 4th, Mazuronak seeming to lack the rocket finish that put her faster than all but the top five men from 40 km to the finish at April's London Marathon.

Like Kirwa a Kenyan-born Bahraini, Rose Chelimo took 8th to put three Kenyan athletes in the top ten.  The U.S.A. team of Shalane Flanagan, Desi Linden and Amy Cragg did it for real, rising to the day, running like the Olympics mattered and landing 6th, 7th and 9th.  Linden ran impervious to the caprices of the pack, deserving credit for making the first move to the front after a moderate start and unfazed whether she was out front or behind. Training partners Flanagan and Cragg stayed together up front through much of the race before Cragg faltered, Flanagan lasting almost until Kirwa's move. Flanagan was 6th, Linden 42 seconds back in 7th. Cragg shook off a threat from North Korean twins Hye-Song and Hye-Gyong Kim to stay in the top 10, 9th in 2:28:25.

And Japan?  The American women were what Japan imagines itself to be.  The romantic memory of the heyday of Paris and Athens.  This was a good team. Kayoko Fukushi, 2:22.  Tomomi Tanaka, 2:23.  Mai Ito, 2:24.  No cracks in that lineup.  And yet, nothing.  Ito was never in it.  Fukushi and Tanaka didn't go with the pack's first move to follow Linden, then spent time catching up, then fell off one at a time.  Fukushi, saying she was there to win gold, 14th in 2:29:53.  Tanaka 19th in 2:31:12.  Ito 46th in 2:37:37.  Where the American women performed above themselves, all three Japanese women placed far lower than their pre-race rankings, even with a number of DNFs among the top-level competition.  The mid-to-high-teens placings matched those in the women's and men's 10000 m, and like Yuka Takashima, Hanami Sekine and Suguru Osako in those races Fukushi's time put her into the all-time Japanese Olympic top ten, but whatever the strength of their credentials from carefully controlled domestic races it was clear that the Japanese athletes simply couldn't race in this kind of environment.  The one that matters.

It's not hard to think of several reasons ranging from charitable to skeptical, let's say, why this could be the case.  Over the first week of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics the Japanese national team was enthusiastic and determined across all sports, an impressive 3rd in the gold medal count at that point behind the U.S.A. and China.  Compare it to the sheer overwhelming averageness of the athletics squad so far.  Sports like swimming, rugby, even judo, have gone from periods of weakness, made major changes to their administration, methodology, their psychology, taken steps to adapt to the changing landscape of modernity, and have scintillated this Olympics.  If something as conservative as judo can do it, why not athletics?  If the U.S.A. can get it right, why not Japan?  Japan, it's over. That nice dream you've been living in is over. It's time to wake up and do your laundry.

Fukushi was one of Japan's only medal prospects in athletics in Rio.  With the men's 4x100 m relay now shouldering more of the weight of expectation sprinters Ryota Yamagata and Asuka Cambridge faced the best in the world in the 100 m semi-finals.  National champion Cambridge faltered, slightly slower than in his opening heat as he ran 10.17 (+0.0 m/s) for last in his semi. Yamagata, 2nd in his heat with a fast start, delivered the best Japanese performance on the track so far this Olympics.  Facing the likes of Usain Bolt (Jamaica), Andre de Grasse (Canada) and Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.), Yamagata was again quickest out of the blocks with a reaction time of 0.109 despite a prior false start by another athlete.  Ranked last in his semi and one of only two athletes never to have broken 10, Yamagata delivered a PB of 10.05 (+0.2 m/s) for 5th, missing the final by 0.04 but coolly bringing his best under the highest pressure.  No shame in his game.  He can hold his head high.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 14, 2016
click here for complete results

Women's Marathon
1. Jemima Sumgong (Kenya) - 2:24:04
2. Eunice Kirwa (Bahrain) - 2:24:13
3. Mare Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 2:24:30
4. Tirfi Tsegaye (Ethiopia) - 2:24:47
5. Volha Mazuronak (Belarus) - 2:24:48
6. Shalane Flanagan (U.S.A.) - 2:25:26
7. Desi Linden (U.S.A.) - 2:26:08
8. Rose Chelimo (Bahrain) - 2:27:36
9. Amy Cragg (U.S.A.) - 2:28:25
10. Hye-Song Kim (North Korea) - 2:28:36
-----
14. Kayoko Fukushi (Japan) - 2:29:53
19. Tomomi Tanaka (Japan) - 2:31:12
46. Mai Ito (Japan) - 2:37:37

Men's High Jump Qualification Group A
1. Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) - 2.29 m - q
1. Bohdan Bondarenko (Ukraine) - 2.29 m - q
3. Andriy Protsenko (Ukraine) - 2.29 m - q
-----
18. Takashi Eto (Japan) - 2.17 m

Men's 100 m Semi-Final 2 +0.2 m/s
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 9.86 - Q
2. Andrew De Grasse (Canada) - 9.92 - Q, PB
3. Trayvon Bromell (U.S.A.) - 10.01 - q
-----
5. Ryota Yamagata (Japan) - 10.05 - PB

Men's 100 m Semi-Final 3 +0.0 m/s
1. Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 9.94 - Q
2. Yohan Blake (Jamaica) - 10.01 - Q
3. Christophe Lematire (France) - 10.07
-----
7. Asuka Cambridge (Japan) - 10.17

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Two Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

Day two of athletics at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics brought high hopes for Japanese men's long distance with a talented 10000 m squad led by national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei).  But in a familiar sight to anyone who remembers the 10000 m at last year's Beijing World Championships, Murayama and Beijing last-placer Yuta Shitara (Team Honda) were out of the action before it even started.  Murayama sank to 30th of 32 finishers in 29:02.51 with Shitara, who lost to Murayama's twin brother Kenta in Beijing, a few strides ahead in 28:55.23 for 29th.

Just lapping Murayama in the final meters, U.S.-based 10000 m national champion Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) ran 27:51.94, the third-fastest ever by a Japanese man at the Olympics, for 17th to handily beat his pre-race ranking of 23rd in the field.  Osako held on to the lead group long into the race and kept pushing with almost even first and second half splits, kicking in the home straight to overtake Murayama.  Some redemption for the corporate system was to be found up front as Kyushu-based Paul Tanui (Kenya) took silver behind defending gold medalist Mo Farah (Great Britain), but combined with Beijing and the difference in Osako's performance it was painfully clear that the current corporate system leadership doesn't know how to handle the talent coming its way from the thriving university circuit.

Along with Osako, Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama University) was the only other Japanese distance runner so far to beat her pre-race ranking.  Ranked just 53rd of 55 in the women's 3000 m steeplechase, junior and collegiate national record holder Takamizawa went out fast before fading to last in her heat in 9:58.59.  When the three heats were tallied, however, she had beaten three runners on time, one bettering herself.  A modest success but success all the same.

One of the JAAF's medal hopes is the men's 4x100 m relay, and public hopes are very high that one of the team members will run Japan's first-ever sub-10 in the 100 m.  Two out of three made it through the opening round of heats, Asuka Cambridge (Dome) just off his 10.10 PB in 10.13 (-0.5 m/s) for 2nd in Heat 4 and Ryota Yamagata (Seiko) likewise 2nd in Heat 8 in 10.20 (-1.3 m/s).  U18 world record holder Yoshihide Kiryu (Toyo University) unluckily drew the short straw, facing a tough heat that included the likes of Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Richard Thompson (Trinidad and Tobago).  Kiryu ran well, clocking 10.23 (-0.4 m/s) for 4th, but was 0.03 seconds short of joining Cambridge and Yamagata in Sunday's semi-finals.  They will likely need to drop that sub-10 to have a chance of making the final.

Less successful was the three-man pole vault squad.  3rd at June's National Championships, Seito Yamamoto (Toyota) was out early, the only athlete in the qualification round not to clear any height.  Nationals 2nd-placer Hiroki Ogita (Mizuno) was next to go, clearing 5.45 m but missing on three attempts at 5.60 m.  National champion and national record holder Daichi Sawano (Team Fujitsu) cleared 5.60 m easily but missed three tries at 5.70 m, lucking into the final as the last qualifier.  Sawano returns to action Monday.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 13, 2016

Men's 10000 m Final
1. Mo Farah (Great Britain) - 27:05.17
2. Paul Tanui (Kenya) - 27:05.64
3. Tamirat Tola (Ethiopia) - 27:06.26
4. Yigrem Demelash (Ethiopia) - 27:06.27
5. Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 27:08.92
6. Joshua Kiprui Cheptegei (Uganda) - 27:10.06
7. Bedan Karoki (Kenya) - 27:22.93
8. Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) - 27:23.86
9. Nguse Amlosom (Eritrea) - 27:30.79
10. Abraham Naibei Cheroben (Bahrain) - 27:31.86
-----
17. Suguru Osako (Japan) - 27:51.94
29. Yuta Shitara (Japan) - 28:55.23
30. Kota Murayama (Japan) - 29:02.51

Men's 100 m Heat 4
1. Andre De Grasse (Canada) - 10.04 - Q
2. Asuka Cambridge (Japan) - 10.13 - Q
3. Bingtian Su (China) - 10.17 - q

Men's 100 m Heat 7
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 10.07 - Q
2. Andrew Fisher (Bahrain) - 10.12 - Q
3. James Dasaolu (Great Britain) - 10.18 - q
-----
4. Yoshihide Kiryu (Japan) - 10.23

Men's 100 m Heat 8
1. Akani Simbine (South Africa) - 10.14 - Q
2. Ryota Yamagata (Japan) - 10.20 - Q
3. Aaron Brown (Canada) - 10.24

Women's 3000 m Steeplechase Heat 1
1. Ruth Jebet (Bahrain) - 9:12.62 - Q
2. Sofia Assefa (Ethiopia) - 9:18.75 - Q
3. Gesa Felicitas Krause (Germany) - 9:19.70 - Q
-----
17. Anju Takamizawa (Japan) - 9:58.59

Men's Pole Vault Qualification Group A
1. Sam Hendricks (U.S.A.) - 5.70 m - q
2. Changrui Xue (China) - 5.70 m - q
2. Renaud Lavillenie (France) - 5.70 m - q
-----
7. Daichi Sawano (Japan) - 5.60 m - q
-----
11. Hiroki Ogita (Japan) - 5.45 m

Men's Pole Vault Qualification Group B
1. Konstadinos Filippidis (Greece) - 5.70 m - q
2. Thiago Brax Da Silva (Brazil) - 5.70 m - q
3. Shawnacy Barber (Canada) - 5.70 m - q
-----
NM - Seito Yamamoto (Japan)

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day One Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

With the rest of the Japanese national team doing well, ranked 3rd behind the U.S.A. and China in the  medal count at the end of the first week of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, members of its athletics squad face modest expectations of one medal and five top eight finishes, the medal expected to come somewhere between the men's 4x100 m relay, the women's marathon and the men's 20 km and 50 km race walks.  No dice in the 20 km on the first day of athletics competition.  Toyo University student Daisuke Matsunaga was the best of the Japanese men at 7th in 1:20:22, 45 seconds out of the medals but, on the upside, scoring one of the JAAF's hoped-for top eight placings.

No such luck in the world record-breaking women's 10000 m.  With national champion Ayuko Suzuki a scratch it fell to her junior Japan Post teammate Hanami Sekine and Yuka Takashima (Shiseido) to try to make a dent.  Both ran the second-fastest times of their careers to date, Takashima missing her PB by one second and both clocking inside the Japanese Olympic all-time top ten, but at 18th and 20th overall they were far from the action.  8th placer Gelete Burka of Ethiopia ran 30:26.66, meaning it would have taken a national record for Suzuki to make top eight had she been in it.

Women's 100 m national champion Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tech AC) was likewise a scratch.  19-year-old Toyo University student Julian Walsh, the men's 400 m national champion, was more than a second off his best, 6th in his heat in 46.37.  His predecessor as national champion, Yuzo Kanemaru (Otsuka Seiyaku), coming off an injury that kept him out of June's National Championships but added to the Rio team anyway, was ineffectual, last in his heat in 48.38.  His fitness to run in the 4x400 m relay looked questionable.  Men's 800 m national champion Sho Kawamoto (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) came the closest to moving on, 7th in his heat on the last corner but kicking to 4th, just 0.01 from taking 3rd and a qualifying spot in the semis.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Rio de Janeiro, 8/12/16
click here for complete results

Women's 10000 m Final
1. Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 29:17.45 - WR
2. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - NR
3. Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) - 29:42.56
4. Alice Aprot Nawowuna (Kenya) - 29:53.51
5. Betsy Saina (Kenya) - 30:07.78
6. Molly Huddle (U.S.A.) - 30:13.17 - NR
7. Yasemin Can (Turkey) - 30:26.41
8. Gelete Bruka (Ethiopia) - 30:26.66
9. Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (Norway) - 31:14.07
10. Eloise Wellings (Australia) - 31:14.94
-----
18. Yuka Takashima (Japan) - 31:36.44
20. Hanami Sekine (Japan) - 31:44.44
DNS - Ayuko Suzuki (Japan)

Men's 20 km Race Walk Final
1. Zhen Wang (China) - 1:19:14
2. Zelin Cai (China) - 1:19:26
3. Dane Bird-Smith (Australia) - 1:19:37
-----
7. Daisuke Matsunaga (Japan) - 1:20:22
21. Isamu Fujisawa (Japan) - 1:22:03
42. Eiki Takahashi (Japan) - 1:24:59

Men's 400 m Heat 4
1. Lalonde Gordon (Trinidad and Tobago) - 45.24 - Q
2. Luka Janezic (Slovenia) - 45.33 - Q
3. Baboloki Thebe (Botswana) - 45.41 - Q
------
6. Julian Walsh (Japan) - 46.37

Men's 400 m Heat 7
1. Ali Khamis (Bahrain) - 45.12 - Q
2. Steven Gardiner (Bahamas) - 45.24 - Q
3. Liemarvin Bonevacia (Netherlands) - Q
-----
8. Yuzo Kanemaru (Japan) - 48.38

Men's 800 m Heat 5
1. Taoufik Makhloufi (Algeria) - 1:49.17 - Q
2. Mostafa Smaili (Morocco) - 1:49.29 - Q
3. Giordano Benedetti (Italy) - 1:49.40 - Q
4. Sho Kawamoto (Japan) - 1:49.41

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Japanese Olympic Long Distance Event Rankings

by Brett Larner

Entry lists for track and field events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics were publicly released yesterday on the IAAF website.  Start lists are due to be released later this week and are bound to include scratches.  Based on the current entry lists, below are Japanese long distance athletes' ranking in their events by best time within the Olympic qualifying window.  Rankings will be revised based on updated start lists.

Ranked 5th in the women's marathon field of 160, Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) looks like Japan's best chance at a distance medal, with 8th-ranked Tomomi Tanaka (Team Daiichi Seimei) an outside contender.  Ranked 9th in the women's 10000 m, Ayuko Suzuki (Team Japan Post) is the only other Japanese athlete in the top 10 in their event.  Beating her ranking would give her the best Japanese women's 10000 m Olympic placing in 20 years.  Three other athletes, Hanami Sekine (Team Japan Post) in the women's 10000 m, Mai Ito (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) in the women's marathon and Satoru Sasaki (Team Asahi Kasei) in the men's marathon, are ranked in the top 12 and could have chances of top 8 finishes.

National record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) is ranked 17th in the men's 5000 m with Suzuki ranked 18th in the women's 5000 m.  The challenge for both of them will to become just the second Japanese man and woman post-war to make an Olympic 5000 m final.  For young collegiate steeplers Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama Univ.), ranked 53rd of 55 in the women's 3000 mSC, and Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo Univ.), 43rd of 45 in the men's race, the challenge will be to finish as far ahead of their rankings as they can.

Women's 10000 m - Aug. 12 - 42 entrants
9. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 31:18.16
11. Hanami Sekine (Japan Post) - 31:22.92
17. Yuka Takashima (Shiseido) - 31:35.76

Men's 10000 m - Aug. 13 - 34 entrants
14. Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 27:29.69
19. Yuta Shitara (Honda) - 27:42.71
23. Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) - 27:45.24

Women's 3000 mSC - Heats: Aug. 13 / Final: Aug. 15  - 55 entrants
53. Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama University) - 9:44.22

Women's Marathon - Aug. 14 - 160 entrants
5. Kayoko Fukushi (Wacoal) - 2:22:17
8. Tomomi Tanaka (Daiichi Seimei) - 2:23:19
12. Mai Ito (Otsuka Seiyaku) - 2:24:42

Men's 3000 mSC - Heats: Aug. 15 / Final: Aug. 17  - 45 entrants
43. Kazuya Shiojiri (Juntendo University) - 8:31.89

Women's 5000 m - Heats: Aug. 16 / Final: Aug. 19 - 37 entrants
18. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan Post) - 15:08.29
27. Misaki Onishi (Sekisui Kagaku) - 15:16.82
32. Miyuki Uehara (Daiichi Seimei) - 15:21.40

Men's 5000 m - Heats: Aug. 17 / Final: Aug. 20 - 51 entrants
17. Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) - 13:08.40
34. Kota Murayama (Asahi Kasei) - 13:19.62

Men's Marathon - Aug. 21 - 159 entrants
12. Satoru Sasaki (Asahi Kasei) - 2:08:56
14. Hisanori Kitajima (Yasukawa Denki) - 2:09:16
17. Suehiro Ishikawa (Honda) - 2:09:25

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Monday, August 8, 2016

Japan's Olympic Long Distance History

by Brett Larner

Outside of the marathon, Japanese distance runners have rarely made an impact at the Olympics.  Post-war, in the 10000 m only three men and two women have ever made the top eight, and the men's 5000 m, the women's 5000 m and the men's 3000 m steeplechase have seen just one Japanese athlete each make the finals.  Of those, only Michiko Shimizu made a mark with a 4th-place in the women's 5000 m at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Below are the top ten post-war Japanese men's and women's performances at the Olympics for the 3000 mSC, 5000 m, 10000 m and marathon, ranked both by placing and by time.  Click any list to enlarge.  With a talented distance squad including men's 10000 m national record holder Kota Murayama (Team Asahi Kasei), men's 5000 m national record holder Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project), women's 3000 mSC junior and collegiate national record holder Anju Takamizawa (Matsuyama University) and more the lists should need updating before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics closing ceremonies are finished.

Women's Marathon - Aug. 14
Men's Marathon - Aug. 21

Women's 10000 m - Aug. 12
Men's 10000 m - Aug. 13

Women's 5000 m - Heats: Aug. 16 / Final: Aug. 19
Men's 5000 m - Heats: Aug. 17 / Final: Aug. 20

Women's 3000 mSC - Heats: Aug. 13 / Final: Aug. 15
Men's 3000 mSC - Heats: Aug. 15 / Final: Aug. 17

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Sunday, August 7, 2016

World U20 Bronze Medalist Wesley Ledama Breaks CR by Over One Minute at Towada Hachimantai Ekiden

by Brett Larner



Just 17 years old, 2016 Bydgoszcz World U20 Championships men's 5000 m bronze medalist Wesley Ledama of Kenya turned up at Akita's Towada Hachimantai Ekiden running for the Subaru corporate team to rock a new record on the 13.6 km First Stage.  Hammering experienced 32-year-old Ethiopian Kassa Mekashaw (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) into the ground, Ledama took almost a minute and a half off the 39:49 stage record set last year by Kenyan Charles Ndungu (Team Komori Corp.) as he handed off in 1st in 38:28.  Mekashaw likewise broke the record, next into the first exchange zone in 38:35, with Yuki Takamiya (Team Yakult A), the top Japanese man at this year's Tokyo Marathon and winner on Towada's First Stage in 2014, 3rd in 40:27.

Both Yachiyo Kogyo and Yakult ran down Subaru on the 13.4 km Second Stage, stage record holder Bernard Kimanyi (Team Yakult A) coming just 2 seconds short of Shota Kai (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) for the lead at the second exchange zone.  Shun Inoura (Team Yachiyo Kogyo) built his team's lead back up to 27 seconds on the 16.2 km Third Stage, but on the 16.4 km Fourth Stage Yakult's Ryu Takaku overtook Yachiyo Kogyo's Kazuyoshi Chiba and opened a 21-second lead before handing off to anchor Masahiro Kawaguchi.

Facing 14.1 km of steep uphill Kawaguchi ran strong, extending Yakult's lead to 53 seconds to win for the second year in a row in 3:48:57.  Yachiyo Kogyo, with a solid team performance that saw four of its five runners make the top three on their stages, was 2nd in 3:49:50.  Last year's runner-up Komori Corporation, short its Olympian ringer Ronald Kwemoi, caught Subaru on the Third Stage for 3rd and held on to that position for the rest of the race, finishing in 3:51:53.

69th Towada Hachimantai Ekiden
Kazuno, Akita, 8/7/16
5 stages, 73.7 km, 37 teams
click here for complete results

Top Team Results
1. Yakult A - 3:48:57
2. Yachiyo Kogyo - 3:49:50
3. Komori Corp. - 3:51:53
4. Subaru - 3:53:44
5. JR Higashi Nihon - 3:55:50
-----
DNF - Comody Iida

Top Individual Stage Results
First Stage - 13.6 km
1. Wesley Ledama (Subaru) - 38:28 - CR
2. Kassa Mekashaw (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 38:35 (CR)
3. Yuki Takamiya (Yakult A) - 40:27

Second Stage - 13.4 km
1. Bernard Kimanyi (Yakult A) - 36:09
2. David Njuguna (Yakult B) - 37:32
3. Shota Kai (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 37:59

Third Stage - 16.2 km
1. Charles Ndungu (Komori Corp.) - 47:27
2. Shun Inoura (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 48:12
3. Cyrus Njui (Team M&K) - 48:13

Fourth Stage - 16.4 km
1. Shoya Kurokawa (JR Higashi Nihon) - 50:42
2. Ryu Takaku (Yakult A) - 50:46
3. Kazuyoshi Chiba (Yachiyo Kogyo) - 51:34

Fifth Stage - 14.1 km uphill
1. Shun Gorotani (Comody Iida) - 52:20
2. Sho Sakuma (Komori Corp.) - 52:43
3. Masahiro Kawaguchi (Yakult A) - 52:58

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

'Why Kenya’s 10,000m Runner, Bedan Karoki, is a Hero Even Before he Runs in Rio'

http://www.kenyanathlete.com/2016/08/why-kenyas-10000m-runner-bedan-karoki.html

Bedan Karoki runs for the Shibuya-based DeNA corporate team where he is coached by 2:07 marathoner Tomoaki Kunichika and overseen by the legendary Toshihiko Seko.  Karoki is an early morning regular on the cross-country loop in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Kiryu Confident After Unofficial NR in Practice: "Feeling Good!"

http://www.sanspo.com/rio2016/news/20160805/rio16080505020012-n1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner
note: Many thanks to a reader who pointed out an error in the translation.  Kiryu was commenting on an having run a good time in practice rather than saying they had run a good time.

In search of its first medal since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay team did some of its final pre-Rio sessions on Aug. 4 at Japan's Olympic training base at New Jersey's Princeton University, where it was revealed that the team had run a 37-second time, faster than the official Japanese national record of 38.03.  The team's ace, 10.01 man Yoshihide Kiryu (20, Toyo Univ.), showed complete confidence, talking openly as he said: "Even in practice we're dropping great times.  Feeling good!"

Along with Kiryu, the team includes 100 m stars Ryota Yamagata (24, Seiko) and Asuka Cambridge (23, Dome), all three targeting Japan's first-ever sub-10, plus 200 m national champion Shota Iizuka (Mizuno) and last year's 100 m and 200 m national champions Kei Takase (Fujitsu) and Kenji Fujimitsu (Zenrin).  Many are calling them Japan's best-ever lineup.

Training in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi in July, the team ran the hand-timed 37-second mark, faster than the 38.03 national record if not as accurate as done with electronic timing.  The Princeton training camp is focusing on the team's baton passing and other details, and everything is looking good.  Coach Shinji Karube, 47, contrasted the team with the bronze medal-winning 2008 lineup, saying, "That time it felt like if anything had happened to one person we would have been in a tough situation.  This time we've got plenty of talent in reserve so we have less to worry about."  Yamagata agreed, saying, "Whoever runs whichever leg, we can produce good results.  We're confident."

'Running, Spending and Saving in Japan: Migrant Kenyan Athletes Must Meet the Demands of Family and Prepare for Their Own Futures.'

http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2016/08/04/running-spending-and-saving-in-japan/

A look at social issues surrounding Japan-based Kenyan athletes by Michael Peters.

Friday, August 5, 2016

From Hakone to the Olympics

by Brett Larner

The Hakone Ekiden is Japan's biggest, most prestigious sporting event, a two-day road relay with twenty university teams of ten men each running roughly a half marathon that pulls in tens of millions of viewers on live TV and along the 210 km+ course.  University men focus on Hakone above all else.  Jason Lawrencea New Zealand runner who took part in Josai University's summer training camp for Hakone, wrote, "For most team members if not all, Hakone is the pinnacle of their careers and it's what they think about 24/7."

The media and the public love the catchphrase 箱根から世界へ, from Hakone to the World, Hakone's role as a springboard to the World Championships and, ultimately, the Olympics.  But at the same time there is frequent criticism that Hakone has grown too big, too popular, that the focus Lawrence cites is a distraction from prioritizing the Olympics as a career goal.  This line of criticism suggests that the very best young talent, the runners who might make top five on their stage at Hakone, are being burned out mentally and physically before they can develop.

And yet, of the seven Japanese men entered in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics long distance events, all seven have run the Hakone Ekiden.  Three of them graduated from Toyo University, the first school to break a 3:00/km average pace for the entire distance of Hakone.  Five of them made the top five on their stages at some point in their university careers.  Three won their stages. One set a new stage record. One is even a current Hakone runner.  Originally conceived of as a way to develop Olympic marathoners, there may be problems with the Hakone Ekiden and there may be casualties, but at least this year there is not much evidence to support claims of a negative impact on Japan's future Olympians.

The Hakone Ekiden performance history of Japan's seven Rio long distance men:

Suehiro Ishikawa (36, Honda) - men's marathon
graduated Toyo University 2002
  • 2000 Hakone Ekiden (2nd yr.) - Ninth Stage - 15th
  • 1999 Hakone Ekiden (1st yr.) - Second Stage - 14th

Hisanori Kitajima (31, Yasukawa Denki) - men's marathon
graduated Toyo University 2007
  • 2007 Hakone Ekiden (4th yr.) - Eighth Stage - 1st
  • 2006 Hakone Ekiden (3rd yr.) - Fourth Stage - 8th

Kota Murayama (23, Asahi Kasei) - men's 5000 m, 10000 m
graduated Josai University 2015
  • 2015 Hakone Ekiden (4th yr.) - Second Stage - 2nd
  • 2014 Hakone Ekiden (3rd yr.) - Second Stage - 18th
  • 2013 Hakone Ekiden (2nd yr.) - Second Stage - 15th
  • 2012 Hakone Ekiden (1st yr.) - First Stage - 5th

Suguru Osako (24, NOP) - men's 5000 m, 10000 m
graduated Waseda University 2014
  • 2014 Hakone Ekiden (4th yr.) - First Stage - 5th
  • 2013 Hakone Ekiden (3rd yr.) - Third Stage - 2nd
  • 2012 Hakone Ekiden (2nd yr.) - First Stage - 1st
  • 2011 Hakone Ekiden (1st yr.) - First Stage - 1st

Satoru Sasaki (30, Asahi Kasei) - men's marathon
graduated Daito Bunka University 2008
  • 2008 Hakone Ekiden (4th yr.) - Second Stage - 10th
  • 2007 Hakone Ekiden (3rd yr.) - Fifth Stage - 6th
  • 2006 Hakone Ekiden (2nd yr.) - Fifth Stage - 6th
  • 2005 Hakone Ekiden (2nd yr.) - Fifth Stage - 6th

Kazuya Shiojiri (19, Juntendo University) - men's 3000 mSC
current Juntendo University 2nd-year
  • 2016 Hakone Ekiden (1st yr.) - Second Stage - 5th

Yuta Shitara (24, Honda) - men's 10000 m
graduated Toyo University 2014
  • 2014 Hakone Ekiden (4th yr.) - Third Stage - 1st
  • 2013 Hakone Ekiden (3rd yr.) - Third Stage - 1st
  • 2012 Hakone Ekiden (2nd yr.) - Seventh Stage - 1st, course record
  • 2011 Hakone Ekiden (1st yr.) - Third Stage - 8th

© 2016 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Japan's Rio de Janeiro Olympics Distance Roster - Profiles

by Brett Larner

Japan's long distance roster at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics features 16 athletes from 10 corporate teams and 2 universities, with athletes entered in the men's and women's 3000 m steeplechase, 5000 m, 10000 m and marathon.  Below are profiles of each member of the long distance squad.  Click here for a detailed look at the Hakone Ekiden histories of the 7 men on the Rio team.

Kayoko Fukushi (34, Wacoal)
Women's Marathon

PB: 2:22:17 (Osaka Women's 2016) - all-time JPN #7

Last five races:
  • 1st, 13:35 - Avery Brewing Company 4 km, Boulder, USA, 7/4/16
  • 6th, 1:12:04 - Gifu Seiryu Half Marathon, Gifu, JPN, 5/15/16
  • 1st, 2:22:17 - Osaka International Women's Marathon, Osaka, JPN, 1/31/16
  • 12th, 35:34 - National Corporate Women's Ekiden Third Stage (10.9 km), Sendai, JPN, 12/13/15
  • 2nd, 32:22 - Princess Ekiden Third Stage (10.3 km), Munakata, JPN, 10/25/15
Fukushi is a multiple national record holder and the bronze medalist in the marathon at the 2013 Moscow World Championships.  Having already demonstrated her ability in hot championship conditions she went on to win January's Osaka International Women's Marathon in a PB of 2:22:17, a run which sparked a clash with the JAAF over its Olympic selection policies. Problems with the fifth metatarsal in her right foot forced her to cancel plans to run June's Hakodate Half Marathon.  Her most recent race was a win in a low-key 4 km road race in Boulder, CO on July 4 where she won her weight in beer.  Despite the foot issues Fukushi may remain Japan's best hope for a distance medal.

Suehiro Ishikawa (36, Honda)
Men's Marathon

PB: 2:09:10 (Lake Biwa 2013)
Best in last three years: 2:09:25 (Lake Biwa 2016)

Last five races:
  • 2nd, 1:04:02 - Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, Duluth, USA, 6/18/16
  • 18th, 30:46 - Bolder Boulder 10  km, Boulder, USA, 5/30/16
  • 4th, 2:09:25 - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Otsu, JPN, 3/6/16
  • 25th, 1:02:49 - Kagawa Marugame International Half Marathon, Marugame, JPN, 2/7/16
  • 3rd, 37:59 - New Year Ekiden Sixth Stage (12.5 km), Maebashi, JPN, 1/1/16
Along with Kitajima and Shitara, Ishikawa is one of three graduates of Toyo University on the Rio distance team.  If he starts the race he will become Japan's oldest-ever Olympic marathoner, male or female.  In early 2013 his then-coach Kiyoshi Akimoto threatened to cut Ishikawa from the Honda corporate team roster if he didn't perform well at that year's Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Ishikawa responded by breaking 2:10 for the first time with a 2:09:10 that remains his career best.  In 6 career marathons to date including two runs at the Berlin Marathon he has never run slower than 2:11:46. The only question mark: Ishikawa was a DNS at the July 24 Shibetsu Half Marathon, his last planned race before Rio.

Mai Ito (32, Otsuka Seiyaku)
Women's Marathon

PB: 2:24:42 (Nagoya Women's 2015)

Last five races:
  • 1st, 1:13:31 - Shibetsu Half Marathon, Shibetsu, JPN, 7/24/16
  • 1st, 33:02.94 - Kansai Corporate Championships 10000 m, Osaka, JPN, 5/20/16
  • 10th, 1:12:02 - National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, Yamaguchi, JPN, 2/14/16
  • 1st, 1:10:27 - Osaka Half Marathon, Osaka, 1/31/16
  • 17th, 32:28 - National Women's Ekiden Ninth Stage (10.0 km), Kyoto, JPN, 1/17/16
Ito was the only marathoner on either the women's or men's teams to clear the JAAF's criteria for auto-selection to the Rio de Janeiro team, guaranteeing herself a place by making the top 8 in last summer's Beijing World Championships marathon.  She has been running well so far this year with wins in 3 of her last 4 races, the most recent being a win in hot temperatures at the Shibetsu Half Marathon on July 24.

Hisanori Kitajima (31, Yasukawa Denki)
Men's Marathon

PB: 2:09:16 (Lake Biwa 2016)

Last five races:
  • 2nd, 2:09:16 - Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, Otsu, JPN, 3/6/16
  • 6th, 1:03:38 - New Year Ekiden Fourth Stage (22.0 km), Maebashi, JPN, 1/1/16
  • 2nd, 42:07 - Kyushu Corporate Ekiden Seventh Stage (14.2 km), JPN, 11/23/15
  • 1st, 2:12:44 - Sydney Marathon, Sydney, Australia, 9/20/15
  • 13th, 28:24.89 - Hokuren Distance Challenge 10000 m, Fukagawa, JPN, 7/9/15
Another graduate of Toyo University, Kitajima has had a short but successful marathon career so far.  He scored 2:12 wins in his first two marathons in Nobeoka and Sydney before running a 2:09:16 PB at Lake Biwa in March, coming just 5 seconds short of running down winner Lucas Rotich of Kenya.  A training partner of Moscow World Championships 5th placer and London Olympics marathon 6th placer Kentaro Nakamoto, Kitajima races sparingly and hasn't produced race results since Lake Biwa.

Kota Murayama (23, Asahi Kasei)
Men's 5000 m, 10000 m

PBs: 5000 m: 13:19.62 (Nobeoka 2015) - all-time JPN #8
10000 m: 27:29.69 (Hachioji 2015) - national record

Last five races:
  • 2nd, 28:16.54 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • 2nd, 13:35.06 - Nittai University Time Trials 5000 m, Yokohama, JPN, 6/5/16
  • 1st, 3:44.78 - Setagaya Time Trials 1500 m, 5/28/16
  • 14th, 38:39 - National Men's Ekiden Seventh Stage (13.0 km), Hiroshima, JPN, 1/24/16
  • 24th, 23:36 - New Year Ekiden Second Stage (8.3 km), Maebashi, JPN, 1/1/16
Murayama performed badly in the 5000 m at last summer's Beijing World Championships before breaking the long-standing 10000 m national record in November with a brilliant sprint finish.  Right afterward he suffered setbacks that meant poor races during ekiden season and his absence through much of the spring outdoor track season.  He took a step back with two low-key time trial races in May before taking 2nd in June's National Championships 10000 m to make the Rio team.  In that race, however, he slowed almost to a dead standstill at the top of the last 100 m with what looked like leg pain, then pulled out of the 5000 m where he was the defending national champion.

Misaki Onishi (31, Sekisui Kagaku)
Women's 5000 m

PB: 15:16.82 (Stanford 2015)

Last five races:
  • 1st, 15:19.37 - National Championships 5000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 9th, 15:24.10 - Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 5000 m, Palo Alto, USA, 5/1/16
  • 8th, 12:19 - National Corporate Women's Ekiden Second Stage (3.9 km), Sendai, JPN, 12/13/15
  • 1st, 22:50 - Princess Ekiden First Stage (7.0 km), Munakata, JPN, 10/25/15
  • 2nd, 15:34.21 - National Sports Festival 5000 m, Wakayama, JPN, 10/2/15
The four-time defending 5000 m national champion, Onishi ran the 5000 m at both the Moscow and Beijing World Championships.  She sat on Sekine and Suzuki throughout the 5000 m at this year's National Championships, taking advantage of their lingering fatigue from the 10000 m to kick away on the last lap for her fourth-straight title.  Her 15:19.37 from that race remains her season best.

Suguru Osako (25, Nike Oregon Project)
Men's 5000 m, 10000 m

PBs: 5000 m: 13:08.40 (Heusden 2015) - national record
10000 m: 27:38.31 (Stanford 2013) - all-time JPN #6
Best in last three years: 10000 m: 27:45.24 (Eugene 2015)

Last five races:
  • DNF - Hokuren Distance Challenge 5000 m, Kitami, JPN, 7/14/16
  • 1st, 3:40.49 - Hokuren Distance Challenge 1500 m, Kitami, JPN, 7/14/16
  • 1st, 13:37.13 - National Championships 5000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 1st, 28:07.44 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • DNF - Prefontaine Classic 10000 m, Eugene, USA, 5/27/16
Coached by Alberto Salazar in Oregon, Osako broke the 5000 m national record last summer.  After a credible sub-28 performance at Stanford this spring he was a DNF at the Prefontaine Classic 10000 m.  Having been outkicked for national titles for years by the likes of Murayama and Yuki Sato, Osako finally got it right at this year's Nationals with long surges to score wins in both the 5000 m and 10000 m.  He came up well short in a shot at the 1500 m national record in July, then had another DNF in the 5000 m at the same meet.

Satoru Sasaki (30, Asahi Kasei)
Men's Marathon

PB: 2:08:56 (Fukuoka International 2015)

Last five races:
  • 7th, 14:02.87 - Golden Games in Nobeoka 5000 m, Nobeoka, JPN, 5/7/16
  • 2nd, 14:02.97 - Nobeoka Time Trials 5000 m, Nobeoka, JPN, 4/29/16
  • 18th, 1:02:59 - National Corporate Half Marathon Championships, Yamaguchi, JPN, 2/14/16
  • 7th, 47:43 - New Year Ekiden Seventh Stage (15.5 km), Maebashi, JPN, 1/1/16
  • 3rd, 2:08:56 - Fukuoka International Marathon, Fukuoka, JPN, 12/6/15
Coached by Takeshi Soh, Japan's fastest-ever marathoner at the Olympics, Sasaki is one of two Asahi Kasei corporate runners on the Rio team along with Murayama.  A garden-variety Japanese marathoner for much of his early pro career, Sasaki broke 2:10 for the first time at the 2014 Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon.  Unable to follow that performance up, he made radical changes to his diet and lifestyle last fall that he later credited for his 2:08:56 PB for 3rd at last December's Fukuoka International Marathon.  Sasaki has raced little this year but recently said he thinks he can PB in Rio.

Hanami Sekine (20, Japan Post)
Women's 10000 m

PB: 31:22.92 (Nagoya 2016)

Last five races:
  • 3rd, 15:24.74 - National Championships 5000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 2nd, 31:22.92 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • 2nd, 15:28.88 - Nittai University Time Trials 5000 m, Yokohama, JPN, 5/14/16
  • 12th, 31:48.90 - Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, Palo Alto, USA, 5/1/16
  • 1st, 31:18 - Natonal Women's Ekiden Ninth Stage (10.0 km), Kyoto, JPN, 1/17/16
A junior teammate of Suzuki at the Japan Post corporate team, Sekine had a massive breakthrough when she beat Suzuki on the anchor leg of January's National Women's Ekiden.  Suzuki paced her for the Rio 5000 m standard in a May time trial, then again acted as her pacer in both the 5000 m and 10000 m at the National Championships.  Sekine more than met the mark in the 10000 m but couldn't crack the 5000 m standard, meaning she will run only the 10000 m in Rio.

Kazuya Shiojiri (19, Juntendo University)
Men's 3000 mSC

PB: 8:31.89 (Chiba 2016)

Last five races:
  • 1st, 8:31.89 - Juntendo University Time Trials 3000 mSC, Chiba, JPN, 7/7/16
  • 2nd, 8:36.45 - National Championships 3000 mSC, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 14th, 29:42.82 - National University Ekiden Kanto Region Qualifier 10000 m, Urawa, JPN, 6/18/16
  • 1st, 8:37.84 - Kanto Region University Championships D1 3000 mSC, Yokohama, JPN, 5/21/16
  • 3rd, 28:42.56 - Kanto Region University Championships D1 10000 m, Yokohama, JPN, 5/19/16
Shiojiri is a late addition to the Rio team, his place announced only on Aug. 3 after he earned an invitation from the IAAF.  The youngest member of Japan's Rio distance squad at age 19, he has developed into Japan's top male steepler over the last two years, clipped at the line for the national title in June by defending national champion Hironori Tsuetaki but coming back in early July with an 8:31.89 time trial that ultimately got him into the Olympics.  A second-year at Juntendo University, he is the first current Hakone Ekiden runner to make an Olympic team since 2008.

Yuta Shitara (24, Honda)
Men's 10000 m

PB: 27:42.71 (Nobeoka 2015)

Last five races:
  • 2nd, 27:48.35 - Hokuren Distance Challenge 10000 m, Abashiri, JPN, 7/11/16
  • 1st, 13:38.47 - Hokuren Distance Challenge 5000 m, Fukagawa, JPN, 7/7/16
  • 8th, 13:48.71 - National Championships 5000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 3rd, 28:17.51 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • 1st, 28:39.33 - Nittai University Time Trials 10000 m, Yokohama, JPN, 6/4/16
A teammate of Ishikawa's at Honda, Shitara is yet another Toyo University graduate.  An inconsistent runner internationally, Shitara is both the fastest-ever Japanese half-marathoner on U.S. soil with a 1:01:48 at the 2012 NYC Half and the last-place finisher in the 10000 m at last summer's Beijing World Championships. Building back from his Beijing defeat he has taken a gradual approach this spring, his 10000 m performances from early June to mid-July showing a nice progression from 28:39.33 to 28:17.51 to 27:48.35.  Ideally that would be leading to a peak in Rio.

Ayuko Suzuki (24, Japan Post)
Women's 5000 m, 10000 m

PBs: 5000 m: 15:08.29 (Beijing 2015) - all-time JPN #5
10000 m: 31:18.16 (Stanford 2016) - all-time JPN #8

Last five races:
  • 2nd, 15:24.47 - National Championships 5000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 1st, 31:18.73 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • 1st, 15:26.28 - Nittai University Time Trials 5000 m, Yokohama, JPN, 5/14/16
  • 3rd, 31:18.16 - Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, Palo Alto, USA, 5/1/16
  • 2nd, 31:30 - National Women's Ekiden Ninth Stage (10.0 km), Kyoto, JPN, 1/17/16
Suzuki looks set to be Japan's next great female distance runner, aggressive at last summer's Beijing World Championships where she became the all-time 5th-fastest Japanese woman over 5000 m and continuing to improve since then.  In 8 races since Beijing, including May's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m where she was 3rd, Suzuki has only finished outside the top 3 once, and despite running close to her PB at the National Championships she had the margin and self-control to pacemake teammate Sekine to hit the Rio standard.

Anju Takamizawa (20, Matsuyama University)
Women's 3000 mSC

PB: 9:44.22 (Nagoya 2016) - collegiate national record

Last five races:
  • 1st, 9:44.22 - National Championships 3000 mSC, Nagoya, JPN, 6/25/16
  • 1st, 9:57.69 - National University Individual Championships 3000 mSC, Hiratsuka, JPN, 6/12/16
  • 1st, 4:26.88 - Shikoku-Chugoku Region University Championships 1500 m, 5/27/16
  • 7th, 9:53.82 - Seiko Golden Grand Prix Kawasaki, Kawasaki, JPN, 5/8/16
  • 1st, 10:00.94 - Hyogo Relay Carnival 3000 mSC, Kobe, JPN, 4/24/16
The collegiate and junior national record holder, Takamizawa's race at June's National Championships was arguably the performance of the meet.  On track to break the 9:45.00 Rio standard for the first time with a lap and a half to go, she clipped her foot on the barrier at the end of the back straight and landed on the ground on both knees.  Quickly bouncing up she ran down leader Chikako Mori in the home straight and kicked hard for the win in a large PB of 9:44.22.  Takamizawa hopes to take another chunk off her PB in Rio.

Yuka Takashima (28, Shiseido)
Women's 10000 m

PB: 31:35.76 (Nagoya 2016)

Last five races:
  • 3rd, 31:35.76 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • 1st, 34:30 - National Corporate Women's Ekiden Third Stage (10.9 km), Sendai, JPN, 12/13/15
  • 3rd, 15:44.09 - Nittai University Time Trials 5000 m, Yokohama, JPN, 11/14/15
  • 20th, 32:27.79 - Beijing World Championships 10000 m, 8/24/15
  • 2nd, 32:07.91 - National Championships 10000 m, Niigata, JPN, 6/26/15
One of the top Japanese women in the first half of 2015 with a 2nd-place 10000 m finish at the National Championships and a spot at the Beijing World Championships, Takashima left her corporate team early this year and didn't race again before popping up at the National Championships in June wearing the Shiseido corporate uniform.  There she ran a PB 31:35.76 for 3rd to make the Rio team behind Suzuki and Sekine.

Tomomi Tanaka (27, Daiichi Seimei)
Women's Marathon

PB: 2:23:19 (Nagoya Women's 2016)

Last five races:
  • 10th, 33:39 - New York Mini 10 km, New York, USA, 6/11/16
  • 2nd, 2:23:19 - Nagoya Women's Marathon, Nagoya, 3/13/16
  • 8th, 2:28:00 - Berlin Marathon, Berlin, GER, 9/27/15
  • 5th, 15:37.59 - Hokuren Distance Challenge 5000 m, Abashiri, JPN, 7/16/15
  • 3rd, 32:08.74 - Hokuren Distance Challenge 10000 m, Fukagawa, JPN, 7/9/15
Coached by 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon silver medalist Sachiko Yamashita, Tanaka was the only Japanese woman to win one of the Beijing World Championships selection races but was controversially left off the team in favor of an athlete coached by Yutaka Taketomi, the JAAF director of women's marathoning.  At Nagoya this year Tanaka was in a head-to-head sprint finish with another Taketomi athlete, Rei Ohara, with only one of them standing to be picked for the Rio team.  Tanaka got there first, and to the general relief she was named to the national team this time.  If Fukushi falters Tanaka may be Japan's next best hope for a distance medal.

Miyuki Uehara (20, Daiichi Seimei)
Women's 5000 m

PB: 15:21.40 (Kitami 2015)

Last five races:
  • 6th, 15:33.49 - National Championships 5000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/26/16
  • 7th, 32:18.09 - National Championships 10000 m, Nagoya, JPN, 6/24/16
  • 2nd, 34:16 - Bolder Boulder 10 km, Boulder, USA, 5/30/16
  • 7th, 31:38.80 - Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10000 m, Palo Alto, USA, 5/1/16
  • 13th, 19:35 - National Women's Ekiden First Stage (6.0 km), Kyoto, JPN, 1/17/16
Another Yamashita-coached athlete, Uehara was only 6th in the 5000 m at June's National Championships but earned her place on the Rio team through the JAAF's complex selection algebra.  Only 20, she already has a pretty decent record of racing overseas including a 15:40 at last year's Carlsbad 5 km, a 31:38.80 at this year's Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational and a 2nd in this year's Bolder Boulder 10 km.  That record suggests good things may be possible in Rio.

© 2016 Brett Larner
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