Skip to main content

Team Chugoku Denryoku`s Aces Aburaya and Sato Face Off in Fukuoka in Bid for Beijing Ticket

http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/sports/Sp200711280135.html

translated by Mika Tokairin and Brett Larner

The first of the selection races for the Japanese men`s Beijing Olympics marathon team takes place Dec. 2 at the Fukuoka International Marathon. The elite field includes two runners from Team Chugoku Denryoku, Shigeru Aburaya and Atsushi Sato. The team`s coach Yasushi Sakaguchi says, "Whoever wins Fukuoka will probably be going on to the Olympics. Only one person can win, so I don`t want the two of them to have any bad blood." This will be a rare occasion to see two runners from Team Chugoku Denryoku facing each other in a world-class event.

Aburaya`s High-Mileage Preparation Going Well
To make the Olympic team, Aburaya has been training to win. "There is only one chance, if I lose that`s it. Whoever I find myself running against, I won`t lose." Aburaya decided to race Fukuoka after hearing that not only Sato but also national record holder Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo) and former national record holder Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu) would be running.

Aburaya placed 5th in the 2001 and 2003 World Championships marathons as well as in the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon. In contrast to those dynamic years, the two years after Athens were not good. "The reason is clear," says Aburaya. "Injuries kept me from training consistently." This summer`s training was excellent, bringing Aburaya "...back to the kind of shape [he] was in before the (2003) Paris World Championships." He has regained his confidence and the spring in his step.

Aburaya acknowledges that Sato is "very strong, no doubt" but says, "I`m not going to let him beat me in the marathon. I left something at the Olympics and I still have to go pick it up." The medal he couldn`t score in Athens is waiting for him in Beijing.

Sato Fresh From Setting a New National Half-Marathon Record
Sato is running with new inspiration. A uniquely powerful ekiden runner, Sato has not yet been able to translate his ability into a good marathon. "There have been times before a marathon when I`ve felt like I`m going to die from anxiety." Too much pressure from himself and others has hurt his performances.

Recently Sato has been training to run flat-out from the beginning of the race. His almost tragic determination also changed recently. In July he married Japanese national women`s 800 m record holder Miho Sugimori. "The way she trains with great concentration and then doesn`t think about her running when the workout is over has taught me a great deal about how to relax. Above all, I don`t get too irritated now because I don`t have to suffer by myself." He said this with a natural smile unlike his previous forced smile.*

At October`s World Half Marathon Championships in Italy, Sato set a new Japanese national record of 1:00:25. With this kind of experience running against top foreign competitors behind him, Sato says, "Fukuoka is not really that big a race." The pressure is gone. Speaking about Aburaya he says, "I`ve always wanted a serious match against him." The Ekiden Man plans to become "The Japanese Marathon World`s Ace."

Japanese Elite Field at Fukuoka International Marathon
Toshinari Takaoka (Team Kanebo): 2:06:16 - 2002
Atsushi Fujita (Team Fujitsu): 2:06:51 - 2000
Shigeru Aburaya (Team Chugoku Denryoku): 2:07:52 - 2001
Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryuko): 2:08:36 - 2004
Yuko Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta): 2:09:18 - 2005

Photo Details
Left: Half-marathon national record holder Sato goes for his first Olympics.
Right: Athens runner Aburaya tries to make his second straight Olympic team.

*Translator`s note: Sato is famous in Japan for trying anything that might help his running. A few years ago he read that smiling while running helps the body to relax, so he went through a phase of smiling the whole way through marathons.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Morita Goes Sub-32 in 10000 m Debut

Running her track 10000 m debut of a 32:27 road 10 km in the spring, Kaori Morita (Panasonic) closed hard off a slow opening pace to win the National Corporate Federation Women's Long Distance Time Trials 10000 m Friday afternoon in Yamaguchi.

A new filler meet to take up space on the calendar following the National Corporate Women's Ekiden's move to November, the Corporate Time Trials meet featured one heat of 3000 m and three 5000 m heats before its main focus, the 10000 m. After a 3:19 first 1000 m Morita's teammate Yuka Hori, winner of the 10.9 km Third Stage at Nationals, took over, leading the field at 3:12 to 3:14 / km pace through 7000 m. Morita, who won the 7.0 km First Stage, went to the front at that point with a 3:14 to 8000 m before taking off.

Clocking her fastest split up to that point with a 3:07 between 8 and 9000 m, Morita closed impressively with a 3:01 final km to dip under 32 minutes as she won in 31:59.94. Steepler Chikako Mori (Sekisui Kagaku) w…

Saitama International Marathon Top Two's Times Annulled Due to Last-Minute Misdirection by Race Officials

At the Nov. 12 Saitama International Marathon, Kenyan Flomena Cheyech Daniel won a sprint finish over Bahraini Shitaye Habtegebrel by 3 seconds to take her second-straight Saitama title in 2:28:39. On Dec. 11 race organizers announced that both runners' times had been annulled.

In the midst of the pair's battle for the win, race officials misdirected the pair into the righthand lane on the final corner instead of the lefthand lane in which the finish line was located. Both ran over the curb dividing the two lanes and returned to the original course before finishing.

At the time JAAF executive director Mitsugi Ogata said, "This was a mistake by the organizers and the athletes did nothing wrong. There was no effect on the finishing order and no advantage gained in terms of the distance run." After later consultation with JAAF officials, race organizers decided that Cheyech and Habtegebrel had not covered the complete distance and that their times should be annulled. N…

Tokyo Marathon to Move to March Date Beginning in 2019

At a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 12, the Tokyo Marathon Foundation announced that beginning in 2019, the Tokyo Marathon will move from its current date on the last Sunday of February to the first Sunday of March. The next Imperial succession is set to take place in 2019, meaning that February 23 will become the Emperor's Birthday national holiday starting in 2020. The race date is being preemptively moved to avoid any potential overlap.

According to the Foundation, setting up and breaking down the facilities necessary to hold the Tokyo Marathon takes several days. With the finish area being positioned in front of the Imperial Palace there were concerns that problems would arise due to the large number of people who would gather in the area to celebrate the Emperor's birthday.

Translator's note: The Tokyo Marathon previously experimented with a March race date in 2009 but abandoned it to return to February the next year. Since 1994 the first Sunday of March has been t…