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Murakami a Surprise Bronze - Berlin World Championships - Day Nine

by Brett Larner

Following Yoshimi Ozaki's silver medal in the women's marathon, little-known Yukifumi Murakami earned Japan its second medal of this year's World Championships with a bronze in the men's javelin. Coming into the qualification round with a PB of 81.71, only the eighth-best in the field, Murakami shot to attention when he threw 83.10 on his second attempt, earning him the number two ranking going into the final and making him the first Japanese athlete in decades to make a javelin final.

With the national eye abruptly turned toward him, Murakami took the pressure in stride and again broke his pre-Championships PB with a throw of 82.97 to edge out Latvia's Vadims Vasilevskis for the bronze. Apart from the great hammer thrower Koji Murofushi, Murakami's medal was Japan's first-ever field medal. With this unexpected success he will return to Japan a star alongside Ozaki.

2009 Berlin World Championships - Top Results
Men's Javelin
1. Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway) - 89.59
2. Guillermo Martinez (Cuba) - 86.41
3. Yukifumi Murakami (Japan) - 82.97
4. Vadims Vasilevskis (Latvia) - 82.37
5. Tero Pitkamaki (Finland) - 81.90

(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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How it Happened

Ancient History I went to Wesleyan University, where the legend of four-time Boston Marathon champ and Wes alum Bill Rodgers hung heavy over the cross-country team. Inspired by Koichi Morishita and Young-Cho Hwang’s duel at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics I ran my first marathon in 1993, qualifying for Boston ’94 where Bill was kind enough to sign a star-struck 20-year-old me’s bib number at the expo.

Three years later I moved to Japan for grad school, and through a long string of coincidences I came across a teenaged kid named Yuki Kawauchi down at my neighborhood track. I never imagined he’d become what he is, but right from the start there was just something different about him. After his 2:08:37 breakthrough at the 2011 Tokyo Marathon he called me up and asked me to help him get into races abroad. He’d finished 3rd on the brutal downhill Sixth Stage at the Hakone Ekiden, and given how he’d run the hills in the last 6 km at Tokyo ’11 I thought he’d do well at Boston or New York. “If M…

The Kawauchi Counter

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Feb. 18: Kitakyushu Marathon, Fukuoka - 2:11:46 - 1st - CR
Feb. 25: Fukaya City Half Marathon, Saitama - 1:04:26 - 1st
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Mar. 11: Yoshinogawa Riverside Half Marathon, Tokushima - 1:05:50 - 1st - CR
Mar. 18: Wan Jin Shi Marathon, Taiwan - 2:14:12 - 1st
Mar. 24: Heisei Kokusai University Time Trials, Saitama
              5000 m Heat 4: 14:53.95 - 1st
              5000 m Heat 6: 14:36.58 - 2nd
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“The Miracle in Fukuoka” - Real Talk From Yuki Kawauchi on “Taking on the World” (part 1)

http://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201701120002-spnavi

translated by Brett Larner

Ahead of his nomination to the London World Championships Marathon team, Sportsnavi published a three-part series of writings by Yuki Kawauchi on what it took for him to make the team, his hopes for London, and his views on the future of Japanese marathoning.  With his place on the London team announced on Mar. 17, JRN will publish an English translation of the complete series over the next three days. See Sportsnavi's original version linked above for more photos. Click here for part two, "Bringing All My Experience Into Play in London," or here for part three, "The Lessons of the Past Are Not 'Outdated.'"


The Fukuoka International Marathon was held on Dec. 4 last year. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov’t) took part despite nursing injuries he had sustained in training. Falling rain contributed to less than ideal conditions during the race, but from the very early stages…