Skip to main content

Yuriko Kobayashi Takes 5000 m at Japanese Olympic Trials

by Brett Larner



1500 m national record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) ran 15:11.97 in heavy rain to win the Japanese National Track and Field Championships women`s 5000 m over four-time winner and 5000 m national record Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal), 10000 m runner-up Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) and 10000 m winner Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo). Kobayashi`s time was just short of the Olympic A-standard but she was automatically selected for the Beijing Olympics team as she had run an A-standard qualifier earlier in the season.

After a slow 3:06 first kilometer led by 10000 m A-standard fourth place finisher Noriko Matsuoka (Team Suzuki), Shibui picked up the pace with a 3:01 second kilometer to keep things on track for an A-standard attempt. She faltered in the third kilometer, the pace dropping to 3:05. Fukushi then took over, followed closely by Kobayashi and Akaba, but her lead resulted in the slowest split of the race, a 3:07 fourth kilometer.

With 500 m to go, Kobayashi had had enough. She kicked hard, swiftly gapping the struggling Fukushi who, as in the 10000 m, displayed her current lack of fitness by being completely unable to respond. Instead it was Akaba who went after the lead, but it was clear that she would not be able to overtake the leader. Akaba was second, followed at regular intervals by Fukushi, Shibui and B-standard holder Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso). Matsuoka held on for sixth a long distance behind.

Kobayashi's decision not to compete in the 1500 m proved wise. Kobayashi set the 1500 m national record of 4:07.86 in 2006, an Olympic B-standard time but outside the qualification window. In repeated attempts this spring she failed to break either the A or B-standards in the 1500 m, but in April she set the only A-standard 5000 m mark of the year by a Japanese woman. With only the post-injury phase Fukushi as an A-standard rival, Kobayashi opted not to run the 1500 m, which had its final 80 minutes before the 5000 m. It was a safe bet as she easily secured her Olympic spot.

The next four finishers also broke the Olympic B-standard, but as Fukushi was the only other woman with an A-standard mark she is the only person likely to be named to the team alongside Kobayashi. 2nd place finisher Akaba`s lack of an A-standard mark means her chances are slimmer than in the 10000 m, in which she was also 2nd but well under the Olympic A-standard. In any case, Rikuren will announce the Japanese Olympic track and field team membership tomorrow, June 30.

Top Finishers
1. Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshoki): 15:11.97 (selected for Olympic team)
2. Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren): 15:13.95
3. Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal): 15:16.27
4. Yoko Shibui (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo): 15:19.29
5. Kayo Sugihara (Team Denso): 15:21.12
6. Noriko Matsuoka (Team Suzuki): 15:32.79
7. Akane Taira (Team Panasonic): 15:35.61
8. Kazue Kojima (Ritsumeikan Univ.): 15:35.87
9. Chitsuki Takagi (Team Starts): 15:36.53
10. Yoshimi Ozaki (Team Daiichi Seimei): 15:40.54

For complete results click here.

(c) 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved

Comments

Roberto said…
What was Fukushi's injury?

Also, I don't think Akaba can be named in the 5K without an A. My understanding of the process is that countries can name up to three A-standard runners, but if there are none, or only one, they can name only a single B-standard runner. If a country had only one B-standard runner (including A-standard qualifiers), only one selection can be made (i.e. you can't send one A and one B).

So Japan can send Kobayashi and Fukushi, because they've both met the A, but not Kobayashi and Akaba (A & B).

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Breaks Nobeyama Ultra Course Record

2018 Boston Marathon winner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) won the longest race of his career to date Sunday in Nagano, taking over six minutes off the Yatsugatake Nobeyama Kogen 71 km Ultramarathon in 4:41:55.

A training run for next month’s Stockholm Marathon, Kawauchi set off solo at a steady pace around 3:45/km. Climbing from 1355 m to 1908 m as he approached 20 km he naturally slowed, but with over 1000 m of descent over the next 30 km he was soon back on track. Hitting the marathon split around 2:39, he was so far ahead of the 2nd placer that the announcer initially forget Kawauchi had already gone by and announced the next runner as the leader.

At 58 km Kawauchi was on track to clear 4:30:00, but hitting the uphills in the final 10 km and feeling the effects of the unfamiliar distance he slowed to almost 5:00/km. But with so much leeway to work with there was never any danger of the 4:48:13 course record slipping out of reach. Kawauchi stopped the clock in 4:41:55, please…

How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

Yuki Kawauchi's 2018 race results: Jan. 1: Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, U.S.A.: 2:18:59 - 1st - CR
Jan. 14: Okukuma Road Race Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:03:28 - 7th
Jan. 21: Yashio Isshu Ekiden, Saitama: 1:01:03 - 1st - ran entire 20.0 km ekiden solo and beat all 103 teams of 6 runners each
Jan. 28: Okumusashi Ekiden First Stage (9.9 km), Saitama - 29:41 - 6th
Feb. 4: Saitama Ekiden Third Stage (12.1 km), Saitama - 36:54 - 4th
Feb. 11: Izumo Kunibiki Half Marathon, Shimane - cancelled due to heavy snow
Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
Mar. 4: Kanaguri Hai Tamana Half Marathon, Kumamoto - 1:04:49 - 12th
Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
           …