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Niiya Outdoes Nakamura at Oda Memorial Meet

by Brett Larner

Aspiring marathoner Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) bounced back from her failed attempt to win March's Nagoya International Women's Marathon by running a 5-second PB to beat Beijing Olympics marathoner Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya), Kenyans Felista Wanjugu (Team Aruze) and Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) and several other top Japanese women in the competitive 5000 m at the Apr. 29 Oda Memorial Track and Field Meet. Niiya clocked a strong 15:23.27, the second-best time in the world so far this year, to break her nearly four-year old PB of 15:28.70. Nakamura came in in 15:23.99 with the two Kenyans another second back; all three were less than 3 seconds off their best times. A moderate gap separated the lead quartet from the rest of the field. Niiya's win signals that she has moved on from this spring's big disappointment and is ready to retarget this summer's World Championships on the track.

In another of the Oda Memorial Meet's highlights, women's 3000 m SC national record holder Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) suffered a rare domestic loss, coming in second to Yoshika Tatsumi (Team Deodeo) as both runners broke the meet record of 10:05.43. Tatsumi took the lead in the second kilometer after an early lead by Hayakari, clocking 10:03.23 with Hayakari close behind in 10:04.99. Previous meet record holder Chisa Nishio (Team Starts) barely missed joining the pair under her old mark as she finished 3rd in 10:05.52.

In the men's events, Kenyans took six of the top seven spots in the men's 5000 m. Nicholas Makau (Team JAL Ground Service) ran a narrow PB of 13:27.49 to beat out the popular and newly-pro Mekubo Mogusu who is still showing the effects of time off following a car crash in Kenya in February which left his coach hospitalized. 2009 Fukuoka International Cross Country Meet winner and High school student Bitan Karoki (Sera H.S.) was a close 3rd. Like Niiya in the women's 5000 m, Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) came back from a disappointing Tokyo Marathon to break up the Kenyan sweep with an a 13:34.67 5th place finish, a PB by over 8 seconds.

In the men's 1500 m, former university champion Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) broke the fifteen-year old Oda Memorial meet record to take the win in 3:43.30. The hapless Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) was a distant 2nd in 3:46.62 while Murakami's teammate Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu) was 3rd in 3:48.16.

In other noteworthy results:

・Beijing Olympics men's 4 x 100 m relay bronze medalist Naoki Tsukahara (Team Fujitsu) won the men's 100 m in 10.17 over his Beijing teammate Shinji Takahira (Team Fujitsu), who clocked 10.20.
・Beijing Olympian Chisato Fukushima (Hokkaido Hi-Tec AC) ran a wind-aided 11.23 in both the semi and final to win the women's 100 m. Runner-up Momoko Takahashi (Heisei Kokusai Univ.) likewise ran a wind-aided 11.24 in both rounds. The Japanese national record in the women's 100 m is 11.36.
・China's Yin Jing set a meet record of 13.40 in the men's 110 m HH.
・Akane Watanabe (Higashi Osaka Keiai H.S.) set a national high school record of 49.10 m in the women's discus.

Complete results from this year's Oda Memorial are available here.

2009 Oda Memorial Track and Field Meet - Top Finishers
Women's 5000 m
1. Hitomi Niiya (Team Toyota Jidoshoki) - 15:23.27 - PB
2. Yurika Nakamura (Team Tenmaya) - 15:23.99
3. Felista Wanjugu (Team Aruze) - 15:24.48
4. Doricah Obare (Team Hitachi) - 15:25.60
5. Yuko Shimizu (Team Sekisui) - 15:31.82
6. Mari Ozaki (Team Noritz) - 15:33.95
7. Ryoko Kizaki (Team Daihatsu) - 15:35.12
8. Shoko Mori (Team Acom) - 15:38.27
9. Mika Yoshikawa (Team Panasonic) - 15:49.32
10. Takako Yamada (Team Deodeo) - 15:57.26

Men's 5000 m
1. Nicholas Makau (Team JAL Ground Service) - 13:27.49
2. Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem) - 13:29.34
3. Bitan Karoki (Sera H.S.) - 13:32.79
4. Jonathan Ndiku (Team Hitachi Cable) - 13:34.51
5. Yusei Nakao (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:34.67 - PB
6. Samuel Ndungu (Team Aichi Steel) - 13:36.69
7. Micah Njeru (Team Toyota Boshoku) - 13:40.09
8. Naoki Okamoto (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:44.00
9. Kazuharu Takai (Team Kyudenko) - 13:52.36
10. Mitsuyoshi Shirahama (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 13:54.63

Women's 3000 m SC
1. Yoshika Tatsumi (Team Deodeo) - 10:03.23 - CR
2. Minori Hayakari (Kyoto Koka AC) - 10:04.99 - (CR)
3. Chisa Nishio (Team Starts) - 10:05.52
4. Miho Notagashira (Team Wacoal) - 10:44.58
5. Mayu Hitomi (Team Sekisui) - 10:50.31

Men's 1500 m
1. Yasunori Murakami (Team Fujitsu) - 3:43.30 - CR
2. Yasuhiro Tago (Team Chugoku Denryoku) - 3:46.62
3. Hiroshi Ino (Team Fujitsu) - 3:48.16
4. Masaharu Nakano (Team Otsuka Seiyaku) - 3:58.04
5. Yunari Yamaguchi (Team Aisan Kogyo Nagasaki) - 4:00.34

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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