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Matsuoka and Miyauchi Make 10000 m A-Standard; Fukushi Misses Olympic Qualifier and Finishes 6th in Niigata Time Trials

translated and edited by Brett Larner

After failing to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in her marathon debut at January`s Osaka International Women`s Marathon, Kayoko Fukushi (26, Team Wacoal) opted to return to the track for another chance at making the Olympic Team. At the Niigata Time Trials track and field meet, held June 1 at Niigata`s Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium, Fukushi`s plans hit a snag when she failed to meet the Olympic A-standard of 31:45.00 in the 10000 m, finishing 6th in 32:22.18.

Japan`s reigning queen of the 10000 m began to fade after 5000 m, ultimately missing even the Olympic B-standard of 32:20.00. While at a training camp in Miyazaki during March, Fukushi injured her left shin and was unable to train seriously for a month. She only returned to speed training one week before the Niigata Time Trials. "I guess I couldn`t qualify in just one try. Looks like my wild old self isn`t quite back yet," Fukushi said afterwards.

Following the time trial`s male pacemakers, Noriko Matsuoka (Team Suzuki) won in 31:31.45. Hiroko Miyauchi (Team Oki) finished 2nd in 31:42.86, both runners clearing the Olympic A-standard with sizeable personal bests. 3rd through 5th place finishers Aya Manome (Team Shimamura), Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei) and Hiromi Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) all broke the Olympic B-standard.

Fukushi will try again to make the Olympic A-standard at the Hokuren Distance meet on June 8 and 11. Fukushi`s last chance to qualify will be at the National Track and Field Championships in late June where she will face off against national 10000 m record holder Yoko Shibui and other rivals for the Olympic team slots.

Complete results for the women`s 10000 m are available here.

Translator`s note: Besides Matsuoka and Miyauchi, three Japanese women have met the Olympic A-standard so far this year: Yoko Shibui (31.19.73 and 31:21.92), Yurika Nakamura (31:31.95) and Yukiko Akaba (31:36.54). In addition to the three B-standard women in Niigata, two others, Mari Ozaki, Chika Horie, have met the B-standard this year.

Akaba additionally ran a superior 31:23.27 in late December, the fastest Japanese time of 2007. Fukushi`s teammates in the 10000 m at last summer`s Osaka World Championships, Megumi Kinukawa and Akane Wakita, both met the Olympic A-standard within the qualification window last year but like Fukushi have been injured and performing poorly or not at all this spring. Hiroko Miyauchi`s twin sister Yoko also met the Olympic B-standard during 2007 along with Kayo Sugihara and Megumi Seike.

Yurika Nakamura is scheduled to run the marathon in Beijing and would be extremely unlikely to double in the 10000 m. Shibui and Akaba have a good chance of being selected, but Matsuoka`s victory in Niigata, potential comeback performances by Fukushi, Kinukawa or Wakita or a breakthrough by any of the B-standard women at the National Championships make the final team selection highly unpredictable.


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