by Brett Larner
The field events at the 2009 Japanese National Track and Field Championships begin at 1:00 p.m. on June 25 with the women's high jump. With one exception Japan is not really known for its strength in field events, but nevertheless a fair number of athletes stand a chance of making the national team for this summer's World Championships in Berlin. To be guaranteed a place on the team athletes must hold a World Championships A or B standard mark and win their event at Nationals, and in the majority of the field events there is at least one contender.
Japan's strongest field athlete is of course its two-time Olympic medalist in the men's hammer throw, the half-Japanese Koji Murofushi (Team Mizuno). Murofushi will be making his 15th straight National Championships appearance and on the strength of his medal-winning performance at last summer's Beijing Olympics he is in all likelihood already assured a spot on the team. His nearest competitor Hiroaki Doi (Chiba T&F Assoc.) has at his best not thrown within 7 m of Murofushi's most recent championship performances, so even a perfunctory performance should be good for the win.
Men's pole vaulter Daichi Sawano (Chiba T&F Assoc.) is the only other field athlete currently holding an A-standard mark and is the favorite to win. Students Hiroki Ogita (Kansai Gakuin Univ.) and Takafumi Suzuki (Tokai Univ.) each hold the B-standard, and while it's unlikely either can win whichever of them comes out ahead may pick up a Berlin spot alongside Sawano.
Women's long jumper Kumiko Imura (Sunnyside Up), men's high jumper Naoyuki Daigo (Team Fujitsu) and Yukifumi Murakami (Team Suzuki) in the men's javelin throw all hold PBs better than the A-standard but currently have only valid B-standard marks. Although Maho Hanaoka (Narita Kokusai H.S.) has also broken the women's long jump A-standard before, her current best is nowhere near the B-standard and Imura is likely to be competing unchallenged. Daigo will also be competing unchallenged, but short of meeting the A-standard Murakami will face B-standard holder Ken Arai (Team Nanajunana Ginko) for the lone B-standard spot on the national team.
Yuki Ebihara (Team Suzuki) in the women's javelin throw, Daisuke Arakawa (Osaka T&F Assoc.) in the men's long jump and Kazuyoshi Ishikawa (Team Ishikawa Foods) in the men's triple jump are all the only athletes in their disciplines to hold valid B-standard marks and should both win and be named to the Berlin team with ease.
Eight athletes spread across eight different events have also at one time broken the B-standard in their events but do not hold current marks valid for the Berlin World Championships, among them women's hammer and discus thrower Yuka Murofushi (Team Mizuno), the younger sister of men's hammer throw champion Koji Murofushi. In most cases the members of this group are the only athletes in their event to have ever broken the B-standard mark, but regardless they will need to bring their best to have a chance of being picked for the team.
Three events do not feature any athletes who have ever met the World Championships. Men's discus thrower Shigeo Hatakeyama (Team Zenrin), women's triple jumper Fumiyo Yoshida (Team Narita Airport) and both Sotaro Yamada (Hosei Univ.) and Satoshi Hatase (Team Gunma Alsok) in the men's shot put stand good chances of winning but would need to significantly step up their game to break into the pool for Berlin.
A complete timetable and list of field event entrants in available here. JRN will be on-hand to provide video coverage of the 2009 Japanese National Track and Field Championships. Click here to make a donation to help cover the costs of providing this coverage.
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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