Skip to main content

Takao Watanabe Resigns From Coaching Sendai Ikuei to Train Kinukawa Full-time in Leadup to London Olympics

http://www.kahoku.co.jp/news/2008/10/20081016t14028.htm
http://www.nikkansports.com/sports/news/p-sp-tp0-20081014-418874.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

A day after his prodigy Megumi Kinukawa (19, Team Mizuno) returned from prolonged illness to set a new women's junior national record of 31:23.21 in the 10000 m at the Oct. 13 Niigata Big Festa meet, Sendai Ikuei High School head coach Takao Watanabe (61) announced that he was resigning his position after 9 years with the school in order to focus on Kinukawa's development full-time over the next 4 years leading up to the 2012 London Olympics marathon and thanked the school warmly. "I'm very grateful for having had the opportunity to coach from my heart."

After taking over as head coach in 1999, Watanabe led the boy's ekiden team to 6 national title victories in the National High School Ekiden Championships, making Sendai Ikuei the top running high school in Japan. He also brought half marathon world record holder and Olympic marathon gold medalist Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya to Sendai Ikuei and was Wanjiru's first coach in Japan. Asked for his favorite memories from his tenure as coach, Watanabe cited his first season in 1999, the 2004 "God's Country" season when the team set the ekiden high school world record of 2:01:32, and last year when Sendai Ikuei edged out the 2nd place team to win despite both schools clocking the same time.
Watanabe's successor as head coach at Sendai Ikuei, Junichi Seino (24), paid tribute to the retiring leader, saying, "The legacy that Coach Watanabe leaves behind is profound and invaluable. It's a heavy weight to carry, but I will do everything I can to continue the leadership he personified."
Kinukawa attended Sendai Ikuei High School, where she set the previous women's 10000 m junior national record as a senior, qualifying her for the 2007 World Track and Field Championships where she finished 14th. A serious viral infection in the late fall kept her out of competition, including the Beijing Olympics, and reduced her training to just an hour of walking per day. On Sept. 20 she ran her first race in nearly a year, beginning a swift comeback which led quickly to her new junior national record and signalled that she was ready to pick up where she left off a year ago.
Watanabe began coaching Kinukawa when she was a student at Sendai Ikuei and is now devoting himself to cultivating this very special athlete. "More than running in the World Championships last year," Watanabe said of Kinukawa, "setting the new junior record yesterday was a transformative experience. She's not ready to think about challenging [Mizuki] Noguchi yet, but this result showed her that she's good enough to run at the world level."
Kinukawa's mark ranks her at 9th on the all-time Japanese women's 10000 m record list and clears the A-standard for next summer's World Championships in Berlin. "World-class level is coming closer one step at a time," said Kinukawa after her performance in Niigata, a great start on the road to the 42.195 km race 4 years distant.

This month, Kinukawa begins training full-time at the National Training Center in Tokyo. Watanabe chose to move from Sendai to Tokyo in order to dedicate himself to guiding her training as her private coach. "Japan's marathoning in the Beijing Olympics was like a blunt sword. I want to make sure this doesn't happen again in London," Watanabe told listeners, confirming that Kinukawa intends to make the marathon the focus of her career. "Kinukawa will run the marathon in the London Olympics."

At next summer's World Championships Kinukawa plans to race the 10000 m on the track, then in 2010 she will run her marathon debut. Still recovering from the illness which kept her out of competition for most of the year, her longest training run leading up to Niigata was only 16 km, but her training menu for the near future includes runs over 20 km. The next step is, according to Coach Watanabe, "Sub-31 minutes [for 10000 m] next year." Looking over Watanabe's training menus in his plan for a progressive buildup to the marathon, Kinukawa agreed and lightheartedly shrugged, "Yeah, I plan to do my best." After a miraculous comeback, Megumi Kinukawa has the potential to be the great redeemer of Japanese women's marathoning.

Translator's note: Watanabe's move, leaving the six-time national champion high school to focus on one athlete, sets up a relationship like that between Japan's two most revered marathoners, Takahashi and Seko, and their coaches, Koide and Nakamura. In four years today's story may prove to be historic.

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawabata Over Kawauchi at Takashimadaira 20 km

Like a distant echo of the thunder of yesterday's Yosenkai 20 km reverberating across the city, Tokyo's other major 20 km road race took place this morning in the northwestern suburb of Takashimadaira. Narrowly surviving the loss of its main sponsor last year, the Takashimadaira Road Race offers a unique 5 km loop course that delivers fast times. Now in its 42nd year, Takashimadaira is a favorite for upper-tier universities that don't have to run the Yosenkai to requalify for the Hakone Ekiden, for other schools' second-stringers, and for top-level independents and amateurs.

This year's race was fronted by a group of runners from Izumo Ekiden winner Tokai University who didn't make Tokai's final Izumo roster, by London World Championships marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) and others from yesterday's Yosenkai winner Teikyo University and the Hakone-qualified Juntendo University and Komazawa University. In the same cool and lightly rainy…

Kawauchi and Kanematsu Win Rainy Shimantogawa 100 km

The 23rd edition of the Shimantogawa Ultramarathon took place Oct. 15 in Shimanto, Kochi. 1822 runners started the 100 km division, where Yoshiki Kawauchi (26, Saitama T&F Assoc.) and Aiko Kanematsu (37, Team RxL) took the men's and women's titles for the first time.

The 100 km division started under a heavy downpour at 5:30 a.m. in front of Warabioka J.H.S. The 576 participants in the 60 km division got off 4 1/2 hours later from Koinobori Park, with both races finishing at Nakamura H.S.

Kawauchi, the younger brother of "civil servant runner" Yuki Kawauchi, ran Shimantogawa for the second time, improving dramatically on last year's run to win in 6:42:06. "Last time I was 21st, a total disaster," Kawauchi said afterward. "My brother told me, 'Don't overdo it on the uphills,' and his advie helped me get through it. The scenery around Iwama Chinkabashi was really beautiful."

Kanematsu began running with her husband around age 30…

Tokai University Outruns Defending Champ Aoyama Gakuin to Win First Izumo Ekiden Title in Ten Years

Kanagawa's Tokai University outran two-time defending champion Aoyama Gakuin University to win the 2017 Izumo Ekiden, its first win at one of the Big Three university men's ekidens under head coach Hayashi Morozumi and Tokai's first Izumo title since 2007.

Formerly head coach at Nagano's Saku Chosei H.S. where he produced the fastest-ever all-Japanese high school team and standout Suguru Osako (Nike Oregon Project) on a cross-country based training regimen, since taking over at Tokai in 2011 Morozumi has set about systematically developing the Tokai program into one with the greatest depth in Japanese university running. On paper AGU had a slight advantage over Tokai over the first half of Izumo's six stages, but with Tokai's second half runners, including its top two men Shota Onizuka and Hayato Seki, ranked at the top of their stages AGU needed a decent lead by halfway to stand a chance.

From the start it wasn't to be. In hot and sunny conditions Tokai&#…