translated and edited by Brett Larner
Japan's three entrants in the Aug. 24 Beijing Olympics men's marathon, Atsushi Sato and Tsuyoshi Ogata of Team Chugoku Denryoku and Satoshi Osaki of Team NTT Nishi Nihon, arrived in Beijing on Aug. 21 after leaving from Osaka's Kansai International Airport. The next day, the team appeared at an official press conference in Beijing. Ogata, the 5th place finisher at last year's Osaka World Track and Field Championships marathon, confidently assured reporters, "I've done what I needed to do and I can't wait to run."
Sato, who holds the fastest qualifying time of the three athletes after running 2:07:13 at last December's Fukuoka International Marathon, was more subdued, saying, "I'm glad that I'll be there on the starting line. I want to run as well as I can." Osaki added, "I'm going to run my own race."
Looking at the results of the Aug. 17 women's marathon, in which the unheralded Romanian Constantina Tomescu broke from the field at 20 km to run away to the win while Japan's team had its worst-ever performance, Ogata reflected, "It goes to show that competing against the world is not so simple. No one can say that Japan will definitely medal. Even perfect preparation isn't enough to get you to the end." Osaki took inspiration from Tomescu's performance, saying, "Everyone has a chance of winning." Sato offered, "I'd like to keep myself in a position to respond to any move anyone makes at any point."
Japanese men have not won a medal in the Olympic marathon since Koichi Morishita of Team Asahi Kasei won silver in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The failure of Japan's women to win a marathon medal in Beijing puts major pressure on Ogata, Osaki and Sato to perform.
To be continued shortly.