Saturday, August 23, 2008

Japan's Marathon Men Arrive in Beijing to Face the World

http://www.47news.jp/CN/200808/CN2008082201000744.html
http://www2.asahi.com/olympic2008/news/TKY200808210258.html
http://www.sanspo.com/sports/news/080821/spg0808211244007-n2.htm
http://www.47news.jp/CN/200808/CN2008081901000508.html

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.

1 comment:

Brett Larner said...

I didn't want to include my personal predictions as part of this translation, but here they are.

Japanese finishing order:
Ogata - Osaki - Sato

I had been counting Ogata out for the same reason as I was Reiko Tosa in the women`s marathon: near invisibility since last summer's world championships. To be fair, Ogata had run a few ekidens and track races, but without any even slightly impressive results. Then he had a fantastic showing at June's Sapporo Int'l Half Marathon, just a few seconds off his PB. Not bad at age 35 during marathon training. It looks like he's planned his peak carefully and he sounds confident in interviews. Top 10 is probable, but it's hard to seem him snagging a bronze without hot conditions.

Osaki is solid and stable, with two 2:08's, a bronze medal in heat at the 2006 Asian Games and 6th in the heat at last year's WC marathon, but has never done anything really first-rate. He's been talking about nothing but the gold medal in all the interviews I've read, but while top 10 would not be surprising, anything higher would take a miracle breakthrough.

Sato. He's unquestionably the best of the bunch, but I don't think tomorrow's going to be his day. He was injured in the spring, had a dismal run at the Sapporo Half in June, then cancelled a Swiss training camp due to overtraining worries. Since cancelling the Swiss trip he has been invisible. He's not exactly exuding confidence in his comments, either. I think he's going to finish somewhere in the 20's. Place-wise, not 2:20's. Hopefully I'm wrong on this one.