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100 m NR Holder Ito: Japan Has Entered the Ranks of the World's True Relay Powerhouse Nations

an editorial by Koji Ito
men's 100 m national record holder
JAAF Development Committee Chair

In London Japan won the men's 4x100 m relay bronze, its first-ever World Championships 4x100 m medal. I'm glad that they were able to win a medal. My honest impression was that they have done well to come this far. Before the race started sprint coach Shunji Karube was saying, "They're totally going to medal," but a key part of Japan's strength is in fact the rich experience he and Coach Hiroyasu Tsuchie bring to the picture. I think their tactics are amazing. During the heats they could make an assessment of Aska Cambridge's situation in just half a day and replace him with Kenji Fujimitsu, who delivered a solid run.

Japan has entered the ranks of the world's true relay powerhouse nations. Apart from leading man Shuhei Tada, the other three members were talking before the race in a totally relaxed way that would have been unthinkable in my era. The final ma…
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Silver and Bronze - Summary of Japanese Performances at 2017 London World Championships

Thanks to a last-minute rush Japan walked away from the London World Championships with a passable haul. The JAAF judges performance in terms of medals and top 8 finishes. Up to Saturday, only one Japanese athlete had met either, 18-year-old sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown finishing 7th in the men's 200 m final as the first Japanese man to make a 200 m final at Worlds since 2003. Three other Japanese athletes had scored top 10 placings, Yuki Kawauchi and Kentaro Nakamoto in the men's marathon and Ayuko Suzuki in the women's 10000 m, but under the JAAF's criteria these were not viewed as success.


Saturday's men's 4x100 m final brought the first Japanese medal of the Championships, with Japan following up on its Rio Olympics silver with a bronze, its first-ever Worlds medal in the discipline. Sunday morning brought Japan's best-ever showing in the men's 50 km race walk, Rio bronze medalist Hirooki Arai moving up to silver, Kai Kobayashi taking bronze wit…

London World Championships - Day Ten Japanese Results

Rio Olympics men's 50 km Race Walk bronze medalist Hirooki Arai followed up with Japan's first silver medal of the London World Championships, leading teammate Kai Kobayashi to a Japanese double medal haul. Far behind the championships record pace set by eventual gold medalist Yohann Diniz of France, Arai, Kobayashi and teammate Satoshi Maruo all sat together in the chase pack through 15 km. Maruo began to drop back approaching 20 km, but Arai and Kobayashi stayed up front through 35 km before making a break that took them all the way to silver and bronze medal finishes 2 seconds apart just over 8 minutes behind Diniz. Maruo fought his way back through the pack, ultimately finishing 5th just over a minute and a half behind his medalist teammates.

On paper the men's 20 km crew had the potential to repeat the 50 km results, but it wasn't to be. One by one Rio Olympics 7th placer Daisuke Matsunaga and world #2 and #3-ranked Eiki Takahashi and Isamu Fujisawa slipped off t…

London World Championships - Day Nine Japanese Results

Following up on its silver medal at the Rio Olympics, the Japanese men's 4x100 m relay squad delivered the first Japanese medal of the London World Championships as it took bronze behind hosts Great Britain and U.S.A. Swapping in alternate Kenji Fujimitsu for ailing anchor Aska Cambridge in the final, the team featured only two starting members of the Rio lineup. Lead runner Shuhei Tada, a student at Kwansei Gakuin University who burst onto the scene in May, again proved himself the best new development in Japanese men's sprinting with a fast start. Rio members Shota Iizuka and Yoshihide Kiryu did their bits on second and third to keep Japan even with Jamaica in 3rd before Fujimitsu delivered the goods.

With bronze at the Beijing Olympics and silver in Rio last year it was Japan's first-ever World Championships men's 4x100 m relay medal. At age Fujimitsu may not make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but with Cambridge, 200 m finalist Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and Rio team …

London World Championships - Day Eight Japanese Results

Finishing 4th in her opening round heat, national champion Ayako Kimura became the first Japanese woman to make a World Championships 100 m hurdles semifinal, running 13.15 to auto-qualify. In Semifinal 2 she was unable to match that performance, finishing last in 13.29. National Championships runner-up Hitomi Shimura ran 13.29 in her heat and did not move on to the semifinals.

In the men's 1500 m semifinals, Japan-based junior world record holder Ronald Kwemoi struggled with a recent injury and failed to advance to the final. Running in the same heat, American Johnny Gregorek, who ran last year's Izumo Ekiden as part of the Ivy League Select Team, moved up from last place over the last 300 m to snag the last spot in the final, the only U.S. man to make the 1500 m final.

In the men's high jump, national champion Takashi Eto cleared 2.22 m for 9th in his qualification group and did not advance. In the decathlon, at the end of the first day of competition Japan's Akihik…

London World Championships - Day Seven Japanese Results

18-year-old national champion Abdul Hakim Sani Brown became the first Japanese man since Shingo Suetsugu's 2003 bronze medal and the youngest man ever to make a World Championships 200 m final. With a 20.32 best he faced seven men who had all broken 20 and run under 20.30 in the semifinals, and with a strong run off the curve he succeeded in taking one of them, the United States' Isiah Young, finishing 7th in 20.63 to Young's 20.64.

In the women's 5000 m heats national champion Rina Nabeshima became the tenth-fastest Japanese woman ever when she ran 15:11.83 in Heat Two, but with the slowest qualifying time going to Bahrain's Kalkidan Gezahegne in 15:07.19 she failed to advance to the final. 9th in the final at the last World Championships, Nabeshima's teammate Ayuko Suzuki showed fatigue from the 10000 m as she ran only 15:24.86 in Heat One.

In the men's javelin throw, national champion Ryohei Arai was far off his best, fouling on his first attempt in the…

London World Championships - Day Six Japanese Results

For the first time in 14 years Japan landed a man in the finals of the World Championships 200 m. In Semifinal 1, 2010 World Junior Champion and Rio Olympics 4x100 m silver medalist Shota Iizuka was eliminated when he finished 5th in 20.62 (+2.1 m/s).

In Semifinal 2, 2016 World Youth Champion and 2017 national champion Abdul Hakim Sani Brown beat Rio 4x100 m gold medalist Yohan Blake (Jamaica) for 2nd in 20.43 (-0.3 m/s) to make for the final, the youngest man to ever do it. The only one of the eight qualifiers not to break 20.30 in his semi, a time faster than his PB, Sani Brown told Japanese media afterwards that he had been lucky to make it. It's going to take some more luck for him to take down some of the other big names in Thursday's final.

#london2017#200m

サニブラウン 20.43 -0.3

準決勝2組2着。着順で決勝決めた👏 pic.twitter.com/kQhWH0O5X9 — EKIDEN HAKIM MANIA (@ekiden_mania) August 9, 2017
London World Championships Day Six Japanese ResultsLondon, England, 8/9/17
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