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Ogata Says "If It`s Hot There`s a Chance" After 3rd Beijing Test Run

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Beijing Olympics men`s marathon team member Tsuyoshi Ogata (35, Team Chugoku Denryoku) completed his third test run of the Beijing Olympic marathon course on July 29th and July 30th, making a 'bullet tour' of the course as he prepares to attempt to become the first Japanese man to win an Olympic marathon medal since Koichi Morishita won silver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Looking toward the fast-approaching race day, Ogata told the press, "If it`s hot then the Japanese runners have a chance."

Ogata made a snap decision to run the course a third time and did not inform the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), which is supposed to know all details of its athletes` schedules, of his trip to Beijing. Ogata had elected to legally assume responsibility for his own training, an option available from the JOC to all marathoners which allows them some measure of independence.

For this test run Ogata ran the final 20 km of the course, the section he "most wanted to run." In April`s Pre-Olympic Marathon, rain kept the temperature low. June`s test run saw fierce heat. This time the temperature was a cool 20 degrees when Ogata began his session at 7:00 a.m. Such unusual and unpredictable weather is a cause for anxiety. "If it`s this cool the race will be fast," says Ogata. A high-speed race will doubtlessly play in favor of the Kenyan team, but Ogata is strong in the heat as evidenced by his 5th place finish at last summer`s Osaka World Championships. If Beijing displays its usual vicious heat temperatures may reach 40 degrees, turning the race into one of survival.

Women`s marathoner Mizuki Noguchi test ran the course only once, while Noguchi`s teammate Yurika Nakamura hasn`t visited the course at all. Having run the course repeatedly and seen important points such as the hill at 34 km gives Ogata peace of mind. "I ran this course so many times because I wanted it to be as familiar as my backyard," he said after returning to Japan on the afternoon of July 31st. "Maybe I couldn`t go train in Europe or somewhere far away, but my body knows the course now and I have a good mental image of the important parts of the course. I know where the real race is going to be."

Ogata next heads to Hokkaido where he will train until leaving for Beijing on Aug. 21st, three days before the Olympic marathon.


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translated and edited by Brett Larner