translated and edited by Brett Larner
The way back to a complete recovery can be steep and grim. The greatest young hope of Japanese women's distance running, 10000 m junior national record holder Megumi Kinukawa (Team Mizuno), finished last of 35 entrants in the May 17 East Japan Jitsugyodan Track and Field Championships women's 5000 m, virtually staggering in to a 17:54.97. "This is the best I can do right now. More than being discouraged I just feel surprised." Just 19, she's learning the hard way the bitter taste of tears.
"I've been injured and sick and....." Kinukawa trails off. Last year she was infected with an unidentified virus which caused her to miss most of the year including her dream of running in the Beijing Olympics. In October she resurfaced, breaking her own national record with a mark of 31:23.21 which cleared the Berlin World Championships A-standard. Having felt a total comeback within her grasp, the shock of Kinukawa's performance at the East Japan meet was huge.
Kinukawa ran the 2007 Osaka World Championships women's 10000 m as a senior at Sendai Ikuei High School, feeling the spotlight for the first time. However, it was just months later that she became ill and faced a year of setbacks. This year she began to experience Achilles tendon trouble in January, then caught a severe flu virus. "I couldn't even stand for a month," she reveals.
Kinukawa began training again in May, but she experienced breathing trouble severe enough to require emergency examination. Her unstable condition continues. With the National Track and Field Championships coming up in late June, Takao Watanabe, her coach since high school, has opted for her to sit out for the second year in a row. "She's still young," he says. "What she needs now is complete rest."
Translator's note: Takao Watanabe was the head coach of national champion Sendai Ikuei High School, guiding a young Samuel Wanjiru to his first half marathon world record among other achievements. Following Kinukawa's new 10000 m junior national record in October he resigned from Sendai Ikuei to become her personal coach. The pair's stated goal is the marathon in the 2012 London Olympics.