Skip to main content

Japan's Olympic Marathon Results Raise Questions About Rikuren's Crisis Manangement Ability

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080823-00000173-jij-spo

translated by Brett Larner

An injury is an accident and therefore something unavoidable. This is the viewpoint of Rikuren, the governing body of Japanese track and field. Everyone understands that Olympic marathon representatives need to push their bodies to the limit and drag themselves through incredible extremes of distance to be Olympic material, but at the same time it must be called abnormal when first women's marathoner Mizuki Noguchi (Team Sysmex) and then men's marathoner Satoshi Osaki (Team NTT Nishi Nihon) pull out of the Olympic marathon at the last moment.

These withdrawals and other problems illustrate the lack of crisis management ability in the current Japanese system. Rikuren did not get control of Noguchi's situation before her injury became a serious fact. Both the men's and women's team alternates were omitted from the final Olympic team roster, meaning that neither was elligible to fill the available slots on the team and run in the Olympic race.

To what extent what Osaki's team in control of his condition? Coach Susumu Takano admitted that he had been optimistic. "Right on the verge of leaving Japan I heard that Osaki felt like something was wrong, but I thought that after arriving in Beijing we could get some good medical treatment and it would be okay." Asked at a press conference whether something was wrong with the system in the face of the problems with both the men's and women's teams, Takano evasively responded, "That's something to talk about after tomorrow's race. There are athletes present here who will be running and I'm not going to talk about that kind of thing right before they have to compete. I want them to be in a position to run their best performances." That may be so, but if anything is going to shake the confidence of the other athletes it is not a coach's words but seeing those with whom they have shared the bonds of training broken and unable to compete.

With regard to the problems among this year's Olympic marathoners, if information about possible injuries had been available more quickly then the worst might have been avoided. Rikuren official Keisuke Sawaki apologized to the public, bowing deeply and saying, "I'm deeply sorry for the disappointment brought by our men and women." A valuable lesson has been taught to the Japanese running system.

Comments

Roberto said…
Certainly Rikuren bears responsibility for sending athletes who were unprepared, and their failure to register alternates is inexcusable, but I see this as an athlete problem.

Without knowing all of the details (since they have been kept from us), my guess is that the athletes (Noguchi, Sate, Tosa, et al) kept their problems secret from Rikuren in order to preserve their own chances to run in an Olympic Games, which enhances their personal brands and careers. [Paula Radcliffe and Liu Xiang did the same ...] That's selfishness on the part of the athletes, who put themselves above the team, the fans, the nation. Shame ...

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Brothers Repeat Father's Day Okinoshima Ultra Sweep

For the second year in a row brothers Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and Yoshiki Kawauchi (unattached) returned to their late father's home island of Okinoshima to dominate the Father's Day Okinoshima Ultramarathon 50 km and 100 km.

Yoshiki, the younger of the two, ran the 100 km for the third time. In his 2015 debut he suffered mightily on the way in to an 11:21:52 finish. Returning with a year's more experience in 2016, he won in a course record 7:20:31. This time he was out fast in search of his first sub-7 clocking, averaging 4:00/km at 40 km through the hilliest part of the course before starting to slow. At 60 km he was still on track for a sub-7, splitting 4:07:10, but when he hit the series of three >100 m elevation gain climbs just after 60 km sub-7 slipped out of reach. Still well under course pace with a 7:12:27 projection at 80 km Yoshiki struggled on the last 100 m climb just over 5 km from the finish, coming in for the win in 7:29:06. Yoshiki has…

Ageo City Half Marathon Leads Weekend Action - Preview

by Brett Larner

Rainy weather lies ahead for a busy weekend of racing across the country.  Track is a part of the calender from April through December, and this weekend features several large time trial meets including the Shizuoka Long Distance Time Trials Meet and, closer to Tokyo, the Nittai University Time Trials Meet.  Men's 5000 m is the focus at Nittai with 37 separate heats in one day, the fastest heat led by 12 Japan-based Africans including Bedan Karoki (DeNA RC), Ronald Kwemoi (Team Komori Corp.) and Paul Kuira (Team Konica Minolta).

The main action this weekend, however, happens on the roads, and there's no question that the Ageo City Half Marathon is the main event.  Ageo, the race that university coaches use to thin their rosters ahead of deciding their lineups for January's Hakone Ekiden, is one of two Japanese half marathons vying for the title of world's greatest half, locked in a duel with March's National University Half Marathon to produce the d…

List of Japanese Athletes Qualified for 2017 London World Championships

It's 50 days to go to the 2017 London World Championships and just over a week out from the 101st Japanese National Track and Field Championships in Osaka where the country's best will be trying to earn places on the London team. Athletes will have the chance to chase standards in the weeks after Nationals, but excluding the marathon, walks and combined events, all of which are held separately from the National Championships, the following is a list of Japanese athletes already holding valid qualifying marks for London.

Things are looking very thin right now, with only the men's 100 m, women's 5000 m and women's 10000 m currently capable of fielding complete contingents, although at least the men's 200 m, men's pole vault and conceivably the men's 10000 m could join that short list. With sixteen women currently holding the London standard the women's 10000 m looks to be the toughest to make even if marathon squad members Yuka Ando (Suzuki Hamamatsu…