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Japanese Olympic Distance Running Preview - Men`s 10000 m

by Brett Larner

Men`s 10000 m

Takayuki Matsumiya
Feb. 21, 1980, Akita Prefecture
Team Affiliation: Konica-Minolta
Olympic Event PBs: 5000m: 13:13.20, 2007 – NR; 10000m: 27:41.75, 5/4/08
Season Highlights:
-National Champion, 5000m: 13:47.81, 6/28/08
-National Champion, 10000m: 27:51.27, 6/26/08
-All-time Japanese 4th best, Cardinal Invitational 10000m: 27:41.75, 5/4/08
Career Highlights:
-WR, 30 km (road): 1:28:00, 2005
-NR, 5000m: 13:13.20, 2007
-National Champion, 5000m and 10000m, 2006-2008
-World T&F Championships 10000m, 2007
-World Half Marathon Championships, 2001, 2005
-2nd place, Rotterdam Marathon, 2007

Still young, Takayuki Matsumiya has the potential to be the successor to Toshinari Takaoka`s domination of Japanese men`s distance running. After setting the current world record for 30 km in 2005, Matsumiya has controlled the 5000m and 10000m in Japan, winning national titles in both distances for the last three years and setting the 5000m national record of 13:13.20 in 2007. At the 2008 Cardinal Invitational 10000m Matsumiya set a PB of 27:41.75, a strong time but one which does not indicate the brilliance of Matsumiya’s race. Starting far back in the pack, he gradually moved his way up, putting himself into contention as he clearly angled for a new national record and possibly the overall victory. Just as he started to challenge eventual winner Craig Mottram of Australia for the lead in the final kilometer, Matsumiya abruptly tied up with a sudden stitch, forcing him settle for 4th and a sizeable PB but demonstrating that he is still on the way up. His winning time in the National Championships 10000m was less remarkable, but should he run the Beijing Olympics 10000m with the patience, ambition and craftiness he showed at the Cardinal Invitational Matsumiya may record Japan`s best-ever Olympic 10000m placing.

Kensuke Takezawa
Born: Oct. 11, 1986, Hyogo Prefecture
Team Affiliation: Waseda University
Olympic Event PB: 5000m: 13:19.00, 2007; 10000m: 27:45.59, 2007
Season Highlights:
-2nd place, Nat’l T&F Championships 5000m: 13:49.73, 6/28/08
-Stage Best, Hakone Ekiden 3rd Stage (21.5 km): 1:03:32, 1/2/08
Career Highlights:
-Univ. NR, 5000m: 13:19.00, 2007
-Nat’l Univ. Champion, 5000m, 2007
-World T&F Championships 10000m, 2007
-World XC Championships, 2006-2nd place, Nat’l T&F Championships 5000m, 2008
-2nd place, Nat’l T&F Championships 10000m, 2007
-All-time Japanese 9th best, Cardinal Invitational 10000m: 27:45.59, 2007

Kensuke Takezawa is, along with Yuki Sato, one of two current university students who show the potential to become great international talents. In 2007 he set the university national record of 13:19.00 in the 5000m and the all-time 2nd best university record of 27:45.59 in the 10000m. He also finished 2nd in the 10000m at the 2007 National Championships, earning him a spot in the Osaka World Championships 10000m. At the World Championships normally stoic Takezawa was visibly nervous starting next to Eritrea`s Zersenay Tadesse, but the experience helped him to gain confidence and he appeared a much tougher runner throughout the fall 2007 ekiden season.

Takezawa was sidelined with a serious combination of injuries in Dec. 2007 which kept him out of all competition after January`s Hakone Ekiden in which he won his stage despite running injured. Entered in both the 10000m and 5000m at the June National Championships, Takezawa failed to show for the 10000m. His appearance in the 5000m took spectators and competitors alike by surprise. Clearly not in anywhere near peak shape, he started slowly, gradually moving up through the pack before dropping a 57-second final lap to take 2nd and earn an Olympic slot. While the 10000m is Takezawa's stronger event, the uncertainty of his condition means that Takezawa will likely run only one event. As at the National Track and Field Championships this will probably be the less-damaging 5000 m.

© 2008 Brett Larner
all rights reserved
photo from Rikuren archive


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translated and edited by Brett Larner