Skip to main content

Is Naoko Running Nagoya for Real!? Takahashi Training in Tokunoshima

http://www.chunichi.co.jp/chuspo/article/sports/news/CK2009022002000136.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

Naoko Takahashi stands between the two monuments in her honor on Tokunoshima island.

Sydney Olympics women's marathon gold medalist and former world record holder Naoko Takahashi (36, Phiten), who retired from professional running last fall, began training on the island of Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture on Feb. 19 for what she has up until now called a 'thank-you run' at the Mar. 8 Nagoya International Women's Marathon. Q-chan has said her goal for her 'final run' is simply, "to break 3 hours." However, she recently commented, "I'm really afraid that when the starting gun goes off I might get excited and try to run up front [in the lead pack] instead of going out as planned," suggesting the possibility that Nagoya might become a 'real run.' Takahashi was quick to add, "I'm going to try to hold back as much as possible."

Tokunoshima was where Takahashi trained for many of her greatest performances, including her national record win in her second marathon, her gold medal run in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and her two Nagoya victories. Returning to a place with so many positive associations, Takahashi has been quick to recover much of her fitness. She originally planned to just do whatever training she could in the short periods between the jobs which have come her way in her new capacity as a television personality, but after watching last November's Tokyo International Women's Marathon from the outside as an announcer her thoughts changed. "I understood again that an athlete gives everything they have, and that they must understand their own strength. I don't want to run 'adequately' or 'easily.' I want to do it with all my ability."

This is Takahashi's third island training camp since her strength-draining appearances during the New Year season. For today's public training she wore a warmup suit, but as her laps of the course piled up Takahashi ran faster and faster. In the afternoon she wore t-shirt and shorts for a session of speedwork. "[The 30 reporters] watching were expecting me to just be jogging, so they were surprised to see me dress that way and I really felt the tension." Even accustomed as she is to being in front of the cameras, the excitement got into this great runner's blood.

As part of her stay on Tokunoshima, Takahashi attending the unveiling of a momument commemorating her eleven marathons in front of the Sunset Resort hotel. The new monument stands next to one already raised to mark the start point of 'Naoko Road,' the course she used in training for her marathon gold medal in Sydney. "I am deeply grateful that my achievements have been permanently recorded here and want to help other athletes use Tokunoshima as a springboard to competing around the world." Currently staying at the Sunset Resort as they prepare for Nagoya are Hitomi Niiya (20, Team Toyota Jidoshokki) and Chika Horie (28, Team Aruze).

At the end of March Takahashi will take up a full-time position as a sportscaster. Of Nagoya she says, "My only goal is to run the 42 km as hard as I can together with everyone else and showing my thanks to everyone watching along the course. There probably isn't much chance I can follow the lead pack." With her hopes expanding the Takahashi of today may still show us something special.

Translator's note: The Nagoya International Women's Marathon has not yet released its elite field, but below is a listing of athletes other than Takahashi who have declared their intent to run in this year's World Championships selection race edition. Indicated times are the runner's best within the past two years.

2009 Nagoya International Women's Marathon - Preliminary Elite Field
Chika Horie (Team Aruze) - 2:27:16 (5th, Nagoya '08)
Takami Ominami (Team Toyota Shatai) - 2:29:24 (3rd, Nagoya '07)
Haruko Okamoto (Team Noritz) - 2:30:09 (6th, Nagoya '07)
Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshokki) - 2:31:01 (1st, Tokyo '07)
Yukiko Matsubara (Team Asahi Kasei) - 2:34:05 (18th, Osaka '08)
Kei Terada (Team Tenmaya) - debut - 1:10:53 (half mar.)

Comments

dennis said…
The nagoya field is really weak. Even the winner probably won't get selected. The door is open for Tahakashi to win. Maybe she can make a comeback.
dennis said…
And I also wish Tahakashi would run Berlin. In 2005 and 2006 is a waste of year for her running in Tokyo. She should've run Berlin instead. Berlin is a special city for her. She set the WR there and yet she won't returned!!!
Anonymous said…
Realmente me encantaria que Takahashi , corriera fuerte y ganara en Nagoya , el campo es debil , y nadie sabe realmente en que forma ella se encuentra, seria maravilloso que pudiera ganar.
mis mejores deseos para ella.
Marcos

Most-Read This Week

Kim Sets Korean 5000 m National Record, Tsuetaki Clears Steeple Standard, Osako Comes Up Short - Abashiri Highs and Lows

The final meet in Japan's Hokuren Distance Challenge series, Thursday's Abashiri meet was set up to give people one last chance to clear the qualifying standards for next month's London World Championships ahead of the fast-approaching deadline. Temperatures were far above normal for northern Hokkaido through much of the day, the mid-afternoon peak reported at over 36C at the time of the men's 800 m A-heat and still at 25C at the start of the five standard-chasing races in the evening.

網走女子5000A https://t.co/GquthBd13K — ホクレン・ディスタンスチャレンジ2017 (@hokurendc2017) July 13, 2017
The best race of the day was the women's 5000 m A-heat. With two women already confirmed for London the third spot on the team was up for grabs. First in line under the JAAF's criteria for addition, top three at Nationals and under the 15:22.00 standard, was 16-year-old Shuri Ogasawara (Yamanashi Gakuin H.S.), 3rd at Nationals in an U18 national record of 15:23.56. Next in line would be anyon…

Takamatsu Makes Return to Racing After Nike Oregon Project Disappointment

Running again in her hometown on the second day of the Osaka Track and Field Championships at Yanmar Stadium Nagai, 2014 Youth Olympics girls' 3000 m gold medalist Nozomi Musembi Takamatsu (19, Osaka T&F Assoc.) took the first step toward a comeback. Closing the gap to the runner ahead of her on the second lap, Takamatsu finished with effort to spare in 2:14.51 for 2nd. "I was able to run the way I'd envisioned," she said afterward. "I had some anxiety since it was pretty much my first real race in a year but I was able to give it my best."

After graduating from Osaka Kunei Joshi Gakuin H.S. in the spring last year Takamatsu moved to Oregon, U.S.A. to take part in the "Nike Oregon Project" elite long distance group created by Nike. With a dream of winning gold in the 5000 m or 10000 m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and high hopes in her heart, she crossed the ocean.

But in the U.S. she was hit by the cold hand of reality. "I was DFL every ti…

Kawauchi Named Captain of Japanese National Team for London World Championships

At a JAAF event at the British Embassy in Tokyo on July 21, marathoner Yuki Kawauchi (30, Saitama Pref. Gov't) was named men's captain of the Japanese national team for next month's London World Championships. Javelin throw national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) was chosen as women's captain.

In a wide-ranging and impassioned speech 4 minutes and 20 seconds long, Kawauchi stoked the team's morale as he told attendees, "I think that there are athletes here today who look at London as just a checkpoint along the way to the Tokyo Olympics. But as a representative of Japan it is not enough just to be there competing. I feel it strongly. You must produce results at this event, the London World Championships. This is the task assigned to each and every one of us. It is critical that we work seriously to achieve our goals. The Japanese people want nothing less. What can we as athletes do for them? More than just wearing the uniform, each of us mus…