Men`s 400 m hurdles national record holder Dai Tamesue competed in the Herculis Monaco Grand Prix meet on July 29th just days after last weekend`s Aviva London Grand Prix. Tamesue was 7th of eight runners, only one position better than in London, but his time of 49.51 was a marked improvement and just off his winning time from last month`s National Track and Field Championships. Monaco is scheduled to be Tamesue`s last major competition before the Beijing Olympics.
On July 28, Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu of Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture, received a letter of resignation from its star runner, Kenyan Olympic marathon team member and half marathon world record holder Samuel Wanjiru, 21. The letter was sent by a Tokyo law office and stated that Wanjiru would be resigning "for personal reasons." Wanjiru has been training in Kenya separately from the team since mid-July. Representatives from Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu commented, "We have to confirm that this letter was actually sent by Wanjiru and that this is really his intention."Wanjiru joined Team Toyota Jidosha Kyushu in 2005 after graduating from Sendai Ikuei High School in Miyagi Prefecture where he studied as an exchange student. In his debut marathon at last December`s Fukuoka International Marathon Wanjiru won the race in a course record time. In April this year he wa…
Yuri Kano (Second Wind AC) continued her summer of strength on July 27th, finishing in 3rd place at the 3rd New York City Half Marathon behind Kenyan marathon legend Catherine Ndereba and Mexican marathon national record holder Madai Perez. After finishing 4th in the race`s previous two editions, Kano once again found herself in a lead pack of four along with Ndereba, Perez and Kenyan Alice Timbilili. The four runners stayed close together throughout the race, with Kano doing most of the leading and Ndereba characteristically holding back just off the other competitors` shoulders. Timbilili was the first to fall back as Perez and Kano began to trade surges, but neither the Mexican nor the Japanese runner could respond to Ndereba`s long surge over the final two kilometers. Ndereba won in 1:10:19, with Perez 2nd in 1:10:26 and Kano 3rd in 1:10:31. Kano`s teammate Kiyoko Shimahara, in training for the Chicago Marathon, was 10th with a 1:13:41.
China announced on July 25th that it will be dramatically increasing the number of police on the street during the Olympic women`s marathon in order to protect Japanese athletes and fans, tripling the number of street patrols and course guards in areas which are expected to have large numbers of Japanese supporters. The government has taken this unusually strict action to prevent trouble during the women`s marathon in light of the fact that both Japan and China are fielding favorites for the gold medal. In the past Beijing has experienced large public demonstrations against Japan, and it is expected that the battle in the women`s marathon will lead to an even more heated clash between supporters off the course.
The Japanese team features exceptionally strong members including Mizuki Noguchi, 30, who is going for her second straight gold medal. Large numbers of Japanese supporters are…
Following the July 23rd deadline for athletes to qualify for the Japanese track and field team at the Beijing Olympics, Rikuren has announced the team`s complete lineup. The roster includes 16 women and 24 men and features 17 national record holders along with several defending medalists, junior and university record holders.
A complete list of the current Japanese team with qualification times and PBs - click names for photos and more detailed profiles:
The organizing committee of the 3rd annual Tokyo Marathon, to be held on Mar. 22, 2009, announced on July 24th that 34,014 people had already applied for the 30,000 available slots in the full marathon race within two days of the application window opening on July 22nd. This is the fastest the Tokyo Marathon has reached this of number applicants in its history. Applications to enter the lottery pool will be accepted until Sept. 22nd, with notifications to be sent out to lottery winners in mid-November.
3179 people had also applied for the 10 km race by the end of July 23rd. 5000 spaces are available in the shorter race.
In honor of defending Olympic marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi`s frequent presence in the city for work with her company Sysmex and for events such as the All-Japan Women`s Half Marathon, the city of Kobe will hold a free public viewing of Noguchi`s attempt to become the first woman to win two Olympic marathon gold medals when she runs the Beijing Olympics women`s marathon on Aug. 17th.
The viewing will be held at Kobe`s Civic Central Gymnasium and will open at 7:45 a.m. The marathon begins at 8:30. Former women`s marathon national record holder and Kobe native Yoshiko Yamamoto will be on hand as a guest commentator during the broadcast of Noguchi`s race. Towels personally signed by Noguchi and other prizes will be given away, and attendees can also sign a poster which will be given to Noguchi. A fitness check corner and other services will also be available.
Athens Olympics women`s marathon gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi (30, Team Sysmex) received her superlight and superfast 'Golden Shoes' from Asics` grandmaster shoe craftsman Hitoshi Mimura at a press conference in Kobe on July 16th. Mimura has nicknamed the shoes his 'Beijing Special.'
Noguchi had ordered five different types of shoe from Mimura, testing each out on the Beijing Olympic marathon course and selecting the one which felt the best. Mimura then modified the basic design to respond to the idiosyncrasies of Noguchi`s stride, coming up with a 'magical' shield against Beijing`s hard concrete roads for the Olympic champion.
The shoes` last is angled slightly forward to improve motion and reduce fatigue, while the midsole cushioning has been reduced, lightening the shoes` weight by 13 grams from its previous design weight of 118 grams. The design of the mesh on…
Beijing Olympics women`s marathon team member Reiko Tosa (32, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) was unharmed by Sunday`s explosion of a commuter bus in southern China`s Kunming, carrying out her scheduled training on July 21st. Situated at 1900 m elevation, Kunming is a popular location for altitude training for both Japanese and Chinese athletes. A spokesperson for the Chinese sports association responsible for overseeing foreign athletes reported, "We have spoken with all Japanese athletes and coaches and all are safe."
At the time of the explosion, Tosa and her coach Hideo Suzuki were training in the countryside approximately 40 minutes by car from the city of Kunming. This was her only scheduled day of training outside the city. Speaking from within Japan, Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo manager Takashi Takaseki assured the public, "This situation created no problems for us.…
Men`s 3000 m steeplechase national record holder Yoshitaka Iwamizu (Team Fujitsu) competed in the DN Galan track and field meet in Stockholm, Sweden on July 22nd. Iwamizu had a weak performance, finishing 12th of 14 competitors in a time of 8:34.05. His time was over 4 seconds slower than his winning time at last month`s National Track and Field Championships and well off his national record of 8:18.93. Iwamizu now enters his final training for next month`s Beijing Olympic Games.
At the Rikuren-certified 22nd Shibetsu Half Marathon on July 20th, Kenyan Kibet Kipgenon (Daiichi Kogyo Univ.) won the men`s race in a time of 1:04:29, while Noriko Higuchi (Team Wacoal) ran 1:13:52 to record her first win. Kipgenon broke from the pack at the 15 km point with a long spurt, while Higuchi came from the rear of the lead pack to win.
Kipgenon commented after the race, "That was close to my race plan, and I set a new PB so I am quite happy." Noguchi, training in Shibetsu at a Kansai Jitsugyodan training camp, said of her race, "I followed my coach`s plan to 'stick to the lead pack like blood.' Winning here is going to help me run better in the ekiden season this fall."
A total of 1415 men and women entered the half marathon, 10 km, 5 km and 2 km races, with 660 in the half marathon alone. 1377 finished the race, including 629 in the half marathon.
2008 National Track and Field Championships women`s 3000 m steeplechase champion Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) ran 9:33.93 to break her own Japanese national record by almost 5 seconds at the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium on July 20th. Her time, which was nearly 15 seconds better than her winning time at last month`s Nationals, landed Hayakari in 4th place just a step behind 3rd place finisher Irini Kokkinariou of Greece. 1st and 2nd place finishers Jenny Barringer and Anna Willard finished in a virtual tie, both breaking the U.S. national record. Heusden remained a lucky meet for Hayakari after having set the former Japanese national record at last year`s KBC Night of Athletics.
In the men`s 1500 m B-group, Kazuya Watanabe (Team Sanyo Tokushu Seiko), infamous for falling just meters before the finish while leading the 1500 m at last month`s Nationals, ran his best time of the season but just missed the Ol…
Ryuji Ono`s dream of running in his second Olympic 10000 m came to an end on July 16 with his 2nd place 27:54.28 finish in the Hokuren Distance Challenge Kushiro Meet in Kushiro, Hokkaido. Ono, who runs for Team Asahi Kasei, made the 2004 Athens Olympics 10000 m as an 18 year old high school student. Since mid-May he had come frustratingly close to clearing the Beijing Olympics A-standard three times, running 27:56.86 on May 17, 27:53.19 on June 1st, and 27:55.16 at the National Track and Field Championships on June 26. Team Konica-Minolta`s Takayuki Matsumiya won Nationals and held an A-standard time, meaning that Kushiro represented Ono`s last chance of qualifying in advance of the July 23rd deadline to make the Japanese team. Once again he came up short, finishing just behind winner Nicholas Kamau of Team JAL Ground Service.
Other notable results included women`s 1500 m national record holder and Beijing Olympics women`s 5000 m team member Yuriko Kobayashi`s victory i…
The Olympic A-standard victory of Yukiko Akaba (Team Hokuren) in the women`s 5000 m proved the standout result of the July 13 Hokuren Distance Challenge Kitami Meet. Akaba, who has already been named to the Beijing Olympic team in the women`s 10000 m, ran a sizeable PB of 15:06.07 to win the race and all but assure that she will double in Beijing.
Her potential teammate in the Olympic 5000 m, women`s national 1500 m record holder Yuriko Kobayashi (Team Toyota Jidoshokki), won the Kitami 1500 m in 4:12.79, a time too slow to put her in a position for an Olympic double. Men`s national 1500 m record holder Fumikazu Kobayashi (Team NTN) likewise missed setting an Olympic-standard mark, winning the men`s 1500 m in 3:42.67. Barring a last-minute breakthrough, the male Kobayashi will likely be staying home in August.
Athens Olympics 10000 m team member Ryuji Ono (Team Asahi Kasei) won the men`s 3000 m in 7:54.25 in a tune-up for Wednesday`s Hokuren Distance Challenge Kushiro …
At the fifth meet in the Hokuren Distance Challenge track and field series, the July 13th Kitami Meet in Kitami, Hokkaido, Team Hokuren`s Yukiko Akaba won the women`s 5000 m in a personal best time of 15:06.07. Her mark, set with the aid of a male pacemaker, cleared the Olympic A-standard of 15:09.00. Akaba has already been named to the Beijing Olympic team in the women`s 10000 m but is now eligible to double in the 5000 m. Team Toyota Jidoshokki`s Yuriko Kobayashi and Team Wacoal`s Kayoko Fukushi also hold the A-standard and have already been named to the Olympic team.*
Kobayashi, the national record holder in the women`s 1500 m, ran the 1500 m at the Kitami meet. She won in a time of 4:12.76
Other athletes hoping for last-minute Olympic team selection have until July 23rd to run a qualifying time. In any event if one athlete from a given country breaks the Olympic A-standard the country may send up to …
Team Konica-Minolta`s Hiroyuki Yamada ran in the men`s 5000 m at the Mondo Keien Meeting in Holland on July 12th. It was Yamada`s first time competing overseas but he ran a race to be proud of, setting a new PB. He intends to set another new best in his next race as well.
Men`s 5000 m 4. Hiroyuki Yamada (Team Konica-Minolta): 13:48.87 (PB)
Kayoko Fukushi (Team Wacoal) ran 15:19.74 to finish 10th in the women`s 5000 m at the July 11th Golden Gala Meet in Rome, Italy, the third meet in the Golden League track and field series. Fukushi, who has twice set Japanese national records at the Golden Gala, finished nearly 250 m behind winner Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia). Fukushi commented, “I`ve always had good chemistry with the Golden Gala, but this time was completely pathetic right from the start and never got any better.”
In March this year Fukushi suffered an injury to her left calf. At the National Track and Field Championships earlier this month she appeared out of shape, with little of her characteristic edge. The 26 year-old will now head to Chitose, Hokkaido where she will train until the Beijing Olympics. “This race gives me something to focus on during my training,” Fukushi said with a show of optimism, “so I won`t be going home co…
Beijing Olympics men`s marathon runner Tsuyoshi Ogata (35, Team Chugoku Denryoku) gave a speech at the Kumanomachi Civic Sports Center in his hometown of Kumanomachi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on July 9th. The 2005 Helsinki World Championships marathon bronze medalist told the crowd of 574 supporters, "All of my training has been with the single thought of `Let's get a medal.` If I get there feeling my best then I have a chance."
The event included a performance by the popular group Moebius of a song they had written to show their support for Ogata. Kumano High School 1st-year student Yuki Nidan (16) spoke on behalf of the school`s track and field team, saying, "We`re all waiting for you to bring the best-colored of all the medals back here." Kumano Junior High School 3rd-year student Yoshin Maeda …
Beijing Olympics women`s marathon runner Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) returned to Kunming, China on July 10 for her final overseas training before the race itself. Tosa plans to remain in Kunming through the end of the month. The focus of her training this time will be to memorize the ten-page Olympic course map containing seventy runner`s-view photos prepared by Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo manager Takashi Takaseki. "I ran the Olympic course in April, so I don`t remember everything," said Tosa. "I think this map is really going to help refresh my memory."
Team S&B rookie Aruto Anzai just missed Fumikazu Kobayashi`s men`s 1000 m national record of 2:19.65 at the Hokuren Distance Challenge Abashiri Meet on July 9th. Anzai ran a duel with Team Fujitsu`s Hiroshi Ino, leaving the rest of the field behind and winning in 2:20.43 with Ino 2nd in 2:21.89.
Athens Olympics men`s 10000 m team member Ryuji Ono of Team Asahi Kasei likewise came up short in the 5000 m, landing 2nd behind Kenyan winner John Thuo of Team Toyota Jidosha in 13:32.67. Ono`s mark was well off the Olympic A-standard he needs to have in order to become a last-minute addition to the Beijing Olympic team. His last chance will come in the 10000 m at the Hokuren Distance Challenge Kushiro Meet on July 16.
The Abashiri Meet also included rarely-contested men`s and women`s 600 m races. Ayako Jinnouchi of Saga University won the women`s competition in 1:28.41, while Takeshi Kuchino of Nittai University took the men`s race in 1:16.74.
On June 30 Yukiko Akaba (28, Team Hokuren) was named to the Japanese women`s long distance team for the Beijing Olympics. Akaba gave birth to her daughter Yuna in August 2006; her addition to the Beijing 10000 m team makes her Japan`s first Olympic mother. Akaba was overjoyed at the news, saying, "This is really a dream come true. It validates everything I`ve done about staying with running after marriage and giving birth. At the Olympics I`ll be aiming to finish in the prizes." Her husband and coach Shuhei (28) agreed, "Right after giving birth Yukiko clearly stated her goals, and one by one she`s reaching them."
Akaba was born in Tochigi Prefecture. As a student at Josai University she won the silver medal in the 1999 Universiad Half Marathon and again the bronze medal in the 2001 Universiad 10000 m. She joined Team Hokuren in 2002 and set only two personal bests in …
On July 6 Rikuren announced that it has added women`s 100 m runner Chisato Fukushima (20, Hokkaido HiTec AC) to the Beijing Olympic team. Fukushima will become the first Japanese woman to compete in the Olympic 100 m since Ayako Yoshikawa ran in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
Fukushima broke the Olympic B-standard of 11.42 with her national record-tying 11.36 mark at April`s Oda Memorial Meet. Although she won June`s National Track and Field Championships, Fukushima was not initially selected for the team as she did not meet the Olympic A-standard. In light of her victory at today`s Nambu Memorial Meet in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Rikuren reversed its decision and added her to the Olympic team lineup.
Fukushima reacted to the news of her Beijing ticket by saying, "It hasn`t really hit me that it`s real yet. I would be honored to be the trigger…
Beijing Olympics women`s marathon team member Reiko Tosa (Team Mitsui Sumitomo Kaijo) returned to Japan from high-altitude training in Kunming, China on July 3rd. During her three weeks in Kunming Tosa ran one 40 km and two 35 km time trials. She reports feeling calm and relaxed with 45 days to go until the Olympic race on August 17, but she knows well that on the 40th day before the race the 'gates of hell' will open wide. While training in Kunming 40 days before last summer`s Osaka World Championships Tosa injured her left knee, returning to Japan on crutches. It is a scene she knows all too well. "With 40 days to go I just want to be running normally. That`ll be enough to make me happy," Tosa commented. She leaves Japan again for Kunming on July 10th.
Beijing Olympics women`s marathon favorite Mizuki Noguchi of Kobe-based Team Sysmex spoke at a press conference at Kobe`s Crown Plaza hotel the morning of July 3rd. Noguchi addressed a crowd of 220 supporters including Asics` master craftsman Hitoshi Mimura, who made Noguchi`s shoes for the Beijing Olympics. July 3rd also being Noguchi`s 30th birthday, the Olympic champion told her audience, "Having the Olympics to start off my 30`s is the best present I can think of."
Having just returned from a series of test runs of the Beijing course, Noguchi commented, "My spirits are high and I`m feeling confident to defend my title. I think I can break the mark I set in Athens, but the important thing for me is to be relaxed during the race."
Noguchi leaves for her final altitude training in St. Moritz, Switerland on July 4th.
Beijing Olympic men`s marathon competitor Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) held a practice session with four teammates at Abashiri`s civic track on July 1st as part of his Olympic training camp in Abashiri, Hokkaido. Practicing for a tactical race situation with varying pace, Osaki and his teammates covered 20 km in one hour of surges and periods of respite.
Osaki has been training in Abashiri since June 16th. Looking ahead, he offered, "I think the Olympics are going to awaken something unfamiliar. I`m training for the gold medal, period. I`ve been doing a great deal of mileage and my stamina has never been better."
Team NTT Nishi Nihon coach Koji Shimizu commented, "We want to see him arrive in Beijing in the best shape possible." Osaki will remain in Abashiri until August 19th, when he will tavel to Beijing for the main event.
Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex), on track to defend her Olympic marathon gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, travelled to Beijing on June 27 for a series of test runs on the Olympic marathon course. Noguchi reported that she would be doing the test runs at jogging pace to reconfirm her image of the course after viewing videos and previous test runs as well as to get an idea of the weather conditions in Beijing.
At 4:00 p.m. on June 28 Noguchi ran 26 km of the course, accompanied by her coach Hisakazu Hirose and wearing the race shoes custom-made for her by Asics` master craftsman Hitoshi Mimura. The two covered the final 15 km of the Olympic course in one hour. Conditions during the test run were ap…
Beijing Olympics men`s marathon team member Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) has cancelled his planned July high-altitude training in St. Moritz, Switzerland and will instead remain in Japan for his final preparations. Suffering from exhaustion, Sato finished 35th in the June 15th Sapporo International Half Marathon with a time of 1:04:01.
Sato`s coach Yasushi Sakaguchi explained that in the past Sato has had a tendency to overwork in high altitude training, leading to poor results. As Sato is already showing signs of overwork, Sakaguchi opted to cancel the St. Moritz camp. Instead, Sato will do his Olympic training in Shibetsu and Abashiri, Hokkaido.
Marathoner Naoko Takahashi (Team Phiten) left Japan at the end of last month for a high-altitude training camp in Boulder, Colorado. Beginning with November`s Tokyo International Women`s Marathon, Takahashi plans to run all three of the major domestic women`s marathons. "Tokyo is the first order of business," commented Takahashi. "I want to get off to a good start. Life is long so I don`t want to fret."
After suffering a leg injury last year, Takahashi will be concentrating on revisualizing her form at this training camp. On November 3rd she will run in the East Japan Jitsugyodan Women`s Ekiden in Saitama, the first time she will run a jitsugyodan ekiden since her days with Team Sekisui when she ran in the 1999 All-Japan ekiden in Gifu. "If there`s a chance for me to take part then I want to do it," she said. Takahashi originally intended to return to Japan…