translated by Brett Larner and Mika Tokairin
The men`s and women`s 5000 m were the feature events on Day 1 of the Chugoku Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships at Miyoshi Sports Park`s track and field grounds in Miyoshi, Hiroshima Prefecture. Beijing Olympics men`s marathon team member Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) won the event for the first time, clocking a 13:47.13 result. Sato`s fellow Beijing men`s marathon team member Tsuyoshi Ogata (Team Chugoku Denryoku) ran 14:15.14 to finish 20th.
In the women`s race, Danielle Filomena (Team Uniqlo) won in a meet record time of 15:38.83. Beijing women`s marathon team member Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) was 2nd in 15:51.06. The championship meet continues May 17.
Atsushi Sato ran the men`s 5000 m "according to plan." He tried to hang on to the high-pace Africans in the race, saving himself and breaking away in the last stages of the race. Sato`s first track race of the season was an excellent rehearsal for the strategy he plans to use in the Beijing Olympic marathon. He was the only Japanese runner who went with Kenyans Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel) and Peter Kariuki, who recently transferred from Team Suzuki to Team Mazda. "Finding my rhythm was the same as in the marathon," said Sato. He was patient once he found his rhythm, not making a move until his brave spurt with one lap left to go in the race. "At the end I was only thinking about winning." Sato beat Gitau by a narrow margin, just outleaning him at the line.
After confirming his Olympic spot at last December`s Fukuoka International Marathon, Sato concentrated on improving his speed over 10000 m, intending to target the Japanese national record of 27:35.09 this season. However, he was unwell during the spring and changed his plan. "After focusing on getting rid of my fatigue, I could concentrate on my base training." Sato is now on the way to building up his fitness again with positive thinking.
Following the race, Sato commented, "I felt light while cooling down," confirming that his body is ready to run the 10000 m on May 17th. "Next time I`d like to lead the race and take the initiative." Such a race will be one more rehearsal of a possible strategy for this summer`s main event.
Tsuyoshi Ogata and Yurika Nakamura`s results in their races showed that they still have room for improvement in their preparations for the Beijing Olympic marathons. Ogata was lacking speed right from the start of the men`s 5000 m, finishing nearly 30 seconds behind his teammate Sato. "I had a target for how far I`d be able to go with Sato, but I really didn`t have it today. I was running this race in marathon mode," he told reporters, his disappointment evident on his face. Nakamura was likewise unsatisfied with her result, slower than the pace of the 31:31.95 PB she set for 10000 m just 2 weeks ago. "Since I had a good result in the 10000 m recently I was a bit too complacent and out of focus. I have to get my concentration back." Nakamura will run the women`s 3000 m on May 18th.
Translator`s note: The men`s and women`s 5000 m at the Chugoku Jitsugyodan Championships took place in cold, windy, heavily rainy conditions.