by Brett Larner
Men`s 1500 m
National record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) won the 1500 m final thanks to a bizarre accident in the final meters of the race. After an extremely slow 65 second first lap, Makoto Fukui (Team Fujitsu) ran away from the field, running 62 and 60 for the second and third laps and opening a sizeable lead. With 300 m to go, first Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku), then Kazuya Watanabe (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko) and finally Kobayashi started to kick, quickly reeling Fukui in. All three passed him just before the home straight, with Watanabe pulling away and Tago just behind. Meters from the finish, Watanabe abruptly appeared to succumb to sudden exhaustion, losing his balance over the course of several steps and falling flat just before the line. Tago had to jump over the fallen Watanabe, losing his balance just long enough for Kobayashi to duck past. Kobayashi`s time of 3:49.96 was nowhere near the Olympic A or B-standards, but his B-standard qualifying time means he has a chance of being selected for the Beijing Olympic team.
Women`s 1500 m
With national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi`s decision not to run in the 1500 m, the race was easily dominated by two-time winner Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic), holder of the fastest qualifying time in the field by nearly 5 seconds. Yoshikawa led from the start, clocking splits of 68.5, 69.6, and 67.7 on the way to her 4:12.79 victory, short of the Olympic B-standard. In the absence of an Olympic qualifying time, she failed to make the Beijing Olympic team despite her National title.
Men`s 3000 m SC
National record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu), the only man in the steeplechase field to hold the Olympic A-standard, won in a B-standard time of 8:29.75 to secure a spot on the Beijing team. His nearest competitor, Hiroyoshi Umegae, was more than 7 seconds back in 8:36.96. The race`s anticipated duel between Iwamizu and Jun Shinoto (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko), the 2007 3000 m steeplechase national champion who set a stage record on the 9th leg of this year`s Hakone Ekiden, did not materialize as Shinoto fell going over the first barrier, ultimately finishing last.
Women`s 3000 m SC
National record holder and defending champion Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) faced unanticipated competition from cross country ace Kazuka Wakatsuki (Team Toto). Only Hayakari came to the National Championships with an Olympic A-standard qualifier, but the two ran right on A-standard pace until late in the race despite an awkward moment early on in which Hayakari lost rhythm and put her hands up to stop herself from running into a barrier. Hayakari had no trouble pulling away as Wakatsuki grew visibly tired over the last lap. Wakatsuki landed badly coming off the final barrier, losing balance and falling. Hayakari won in 9:48.43, securing her spot on the Beijing Olympic team. Wakatsuki recovered from her fall to finish 2nd in 9:54.93, also clearing the Olympic B-standard.
Men`s 100 m - Men`s 110 mH - Men`s 200 m - Men`s 400 m
Women`s 100 m - Women`s 100 mH - Women`s 400 m
Complete results for all events are available here.
(c) 2008 Brett Larner
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