Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Atsushi Sato Leaves for Berlin Targeting "Top Five at Worst"

translated and edited by Brett Larner
source articles at bottom

Marathoner Atsushi Sato (Team Chugoku Denryoku) left Hiroshima on Aug. 10 with his coach Yasushi Sakaguchi to travel to Berlin for this year's World Championships, which are scheduled to begin on the 15th. It's been one year since Sato suffered a complete breakdown at the Beijing Olympics. Looking toward this year's peak summer race as he prepared to depart, Sato said, "At the very worst I'm looking at top five."

Sato is flying out of Tokyo's Narita Airport on Aug. 11 but left Hiroshima a day early to avoid the approaching Typhoon #9. He returned from a training camp in New Zealand on only Aug. 8, but was relaxed and unconcerned about the strain of all the travelling, saying, "If you can't deal with stress when you need to then you can't deal with the demands of competition either."

The World Championships marathon is on Aug. 22. It's been four months since Sato qualified for the national team at the London Marathon. Since early July he's been in peak training in Nagano Prefecture's Sugadaira Takahara and in New Zealand, and he is in top condition. "By keeping my spirit light and free I was able to concentrate in my training," Sato said of his preparations. Sakaguchi agreed, adding, "He's recovered nicely from the fatigue of training and his body is fresh and ready."

Sato and Sakuguchi will initially travel to Frankfurt, Germany. On Aug. 15 Sato will run a 10 km road race in Amsterdam before heading to Berlin on the 19th. "It's just a local amateur race. I don't even know what it's called," Sato laughed. "I just want to run around 29 minutes."

Sato's training partners Shigeru Aburaya and Tsuyoshi Ogata together finished in the top five at the last four World Championships. Having overcome the psychological and spiritual damage of finishing last in Beijing, Sato himself once again looks ready to compete at the world level. Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru (Kenya) isn't running the World Championships marathon but a high-speed race looks inevitable. "I couldn't run competitively in Beijing," Sato says, but he's determined as he adds, "This time is preparation for [the] London [Olympics] and I want to put out a world-class race."


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