by Brett Larner
After a year of injury disappointments which kept him out of the Beijing Olympics, Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) has made a definitive comeback. A week after his professional debut in the 5000 m B-heat at the Mt. SAC Relays, the former Tokai University star ran a 13-second 10000 m PB of 27:38.25 to finish 3rd in the New York Road Runners-sponsored Brutus Hamilton Invitational on Apr. 24 in Berkeley, CA. Sato's time was just over 3 seconds off the Japanese national record and is the third-fastest ever run by a Japanese man. Prior to leaving for California he wrote on the Team Nissin Shokuhin blog, "Since these will be my first races as a pro and they're overseas I want to be myself again and do something special." Consider that goal accomplished: the two men ahead of him on the all-time list, Toshinari Takaoka and Takeyuki Nakayama, were both 10000 m and marathon national record holders. The 22 year-old Sato's future looks very bright.
Click picture for more Brutus Hamilton Invitational photos by Victah Sailer.
Although Sato fell 10 seconds behind winner Sam Chelanga (Kenya/Liberty Univ.) and national record-setting runner-up Collis Birmingham (Australia) and missed the Japanese national record due to a lack of a finishing kick, he held off the top two runners from Mt. SAC's 5000 m A-heat, Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) and Anthony Famiglietti (U.S.A.), to take 3rd. Very impressive considering that Barrios and Famiglietti's 5000 m times last week were over 30 seconds faster than Sato's. In fact, doubling Sato's Mt. SAC time, 13:48.71, yields 27:37.42, less than a second faster than he actually ran in the Brutus Hamilton 10000 m.
Sato's performance easily cleared the World Championships A-standard of 27:47.00 and sends him straight to the top of the list of Japanese 10000 m runners in the leadup to Berlin. It also puts pressure on both 5000 m national record holder Takayuki Matsumiya (Team Konica Minolta) and Sato's university-era rival and Beijing Olympian Kensuke Takezawa (Team S&B).
Seigo Ikegami and Suehiro Ishikawa in the men's 10000 m. Photo by Randy Miyazaki.
As in Mt. SAC, Sato's teammate Satoru Kitamura (Team Nissin Shokuhin) was a DNS. Mt. SAC 5000 m A-heat runners Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) and Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) were also in the Brutus Hamilton 10000 m, finishing far back in the pack in 14th and 15th, clocking 28:07.04 and 28:21.10 respectively. Ishikawa's time broke his existing PB by over 11 seconds, while Ikegami missed his own PB by less than 5 seconds.
After strong showings in the Stanford Invitational 5000 m and Mt. SAC Relays 1500 m, Sato's high school teammate Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) ran an undistinguished 13:41.86 in the 5000 m. Ueno started aggressively, running in the lead behind two pacemakers and then alone through the first half of the race but ultimately placing 8th for his efforts well outside the tight pack of seven who placed ahead of him. A strong kick to overtake two rivals in the home stretch was small consolation. Ueno, Ishikawa and Ikegami will complete their California tour next week at the Stanford University Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational.
In the women's 10000 m, Japan-resident Kenyan Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) once again came out on top. Despite a difference of only 2.35 seconds in their PBs, Ongori outran American Katie McGregor by over 21 seconds to take her second victory in a week in a Californian meet. Times were reasonably quick overall as Desiree Davila (U.S.A.) and Lara Tamsett (Australia) ran PBs to round out the top four, all of whom were under the current world leading time for the year. Ongori continues to round out into excellent form as the spring season gradually approaches its key meets.
2009 Brutus Hamilton Invitational - Top Finishers
Click event header for complete results.
Men's 10000 m
1. Sam Chelanga (Kenya/Liberty Univ.) - 27:28.48 - CR
2. Collis Birmingham (Australia) - 27:29.73 - NR
3. Yuki Sato (Team Nissin Shokuhin) - 27:38.25 - PB
4. Anthony Famiglietti (U.S.A.) - 27:39.68
5. Juan Luis Barrios (Mexico) - 27:40.10 - debut
14. Suehiro Ishikawa (Team Honda) - 28:07.04 - PB
15. Seigo Ikegami (Team Honda) - 28:21.10
Men's 5000 m
1. Robert Curtis (U.S.A.) - 13:29.12
2. Ben St. Lawrence (Australia) - 13:30.18
3. Jorge Torres (U.S.A.) - 13:30.65
4. Scott Bauhs (U.S.A.) - 13:30.85 - PB
5. Jordan Horn (U.S.A.) - 13:31.19
8. Yuichiro Ueno (Team S&B) - 13:41.86
Women's 10000 m
1. Philes Ongori (Team Hokuren) - 31:53.46
2. Katie McGregor (U.S.A.) - 32:14.57
3. Desiree Davila (U.S.A.) - 32:25.78 - PB
4. Lara Tamsett (Australia) - 32:27.23 - PB
5. Lisa Koll (U.S.A./Iowa State Univ.) - 32:43.85
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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