by Brett Larner
5000 m national record holder and 30 km world record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica-Minolta) won the Japanese National Track and Field Championships men`s 10000 m for the third straight year at Kawasaki`s Todoroki Stadium on June 26. Under the Japanese Olympic selection system, an athlete holding an Olympic A-standard time will be guaranteed a spot on the Beijing Olympics team if he or she wins an event at this year`s National Championships. With the absence of Waseda University senior Kensuke Takezawa, Matsumiya was the only runner in the field entering the competition with an A-standard qualifying time after running 27:41.75 at last month`s Cardinal Invitational. His 27:51.27 victory here, while itself falling short of the A-standard, met the selection criteria and was enough to secure Matsumiya a place in the Olympic 10000 m. The other eight runners who broke the 10000 m Olympic B-standard in the National Championships are unlikely to be named to the team but must wait until June 30 when Rikuren will announce the complete team membership.
Fresh from securing a spot on the Japanese national team for October`s World Half Marathon Championships by finishing as top Japanese at the Sapporo International Half Marathon less than two weeks ago, Chuo Gakuin University senior Masato Kihara took the race out hard, immediately taking the lead position in a pack including all the top Japanese professionals. Immediately behind Kihara was junior national record holder Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei), who competed in the Athens Olympics 10000 m as an 18-year old, followed by Ono`s Athens teammate Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku). Strung out behind the leading three was a large pack led by the man with the fastest PB in the field, Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu), with Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo) and Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin) right behind. Matsumiya sat back in the middle of the pack.
Kihara took the pack through the first km in 2:43. Through 5 km nothing changed among the leaders until Kihara, noting with the 13:59 5k split that the pace had slowed, put on a surge to keep the pace on track to break 28 minutes. Ono followed, but the two opened a small gap on Omori. The move was enough to break things up as Mitsuya, Irifune and Matsumiya went past Omori to regain contact with the two leaders.
At 6500 m Irifune went wide to try to move past Mitsuya into third, but the move was unsuccessful and he returned to the fourth postion on the back curve. At the same time, Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko) went past Omori to move into the sixth. At 7500 m Matsumiya made his first move of the race, accelerating down the home straight to pass Kihara before the curve, with Irifune moving out to follow. Kihara covered the move and the two were forced to step back into the line. The top six were now Kihara, Ono, Matsumiya, Mitsuya, Irifune and Maeda, with Kitamura and Omori at the head of the chase pack. Ono ran slightly on the outside, effectively boxing Matsumiya in behind Kihara.
By 8200 m the professionals had had enough of the ambitious university student Kihara`s lead. Ono made a quick attack, streaking past Kihara and opening the door for Matsumiya to move as well. Mitsuya, Irifune and Maeda rapidly followed suit, but Kihara managed to hold on to the rear of the pack. 200 m later as the group entered the back straight Matsumiya moved out to set up his final push, but behind him Kihara put on an astonishing spurt to pass Irifune and Maeda and regain contact with the three leaders. Matsumiya would not have it, launching his kick the moment Kihara arrived and taking the lead for the first time. Only Mitsuya was able to follow, as first Kihara then Ono dropped away. By 8800 m Mitsuya also began to fade, and the race was Matsumiya`s. Ono caught Mitsuya at 9 km but was unable to match Matsumiya`s 2:39 final kilometer and had to settle for an anguished second place in 27:55.16. Mitsuya was the last man to break 28 minutes, third in 27:58.63, his season best but doubtless a disappointment.
Maeda had a sensational final kilometer to take fourth. Irifune, Kihara, Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei), Omori, Kitamura and Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) finished in rapid succession after him, with Kihara, Bungo and Nakao recording personal bests. The top nine finishers met the Olympic B-standard, but it is unlikely that any will join Matsumiya in Beijing later this summer.
The Japanese National Track and Field Championships continue on June 27 with the women`s 10000 m, featuring a highly-anticipated battle between 10000 m national record holder Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo), 3000 m, 5000 m and half marathon national record holder Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), the rising star Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren), and darkhorse Noriko Matsuoka (Team Suzuki).
1 km: 2:43 2 km: 5:29 3 km: 8:18 4 km: 11:09 5 km: 13:59
6 km: 16:49 7 km: 19:40 8 km: 22:34 9 km: 25:12 10 km: 27:51.27
1. Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica-Minolta): 27:51.27 (selected for Olympic team)
2. Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei): 27:55.16
3. Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu): 27:58.63 (SB)
4. Kazuhiro Maeda (Team Kyudenko): 28:00.29
5. Satoshi Irifune (Team Kanebo): 28:05.44
6. Masato Kihara (Chuo Gakuin Univ.): 28:06.48 (PB)
7. Tomoaki Bungo (Team Asahi Kasei): 28:07.20 (PB)
7. Terukazu Omori (Team Shikoku Denryoku): 28:07.20
9. Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin): 28:09.22
10. Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku): 28:10.19 (PB)
Complete results are available here.
(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved